The Story of Gwendoline Christie, Who Was Told She’d Never Get Roles
Gwendoline Christie is a prominent British actress, who we know for her role of Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones and as the headmistress of “Nevermore Academy” in the series Wednesday. Her path to fame was not easy, nor was her path to self-acceptance.
The actress’s height is impressive—191 cm, and for many years it was a problem for her. In her childhood, she was often mocked by classmates, and university teachers warned her that finding a job would be very difficult. But she was able to turn her unconventional appearance into an advantage, and now she confidently wears high heels and inspires everyone with her story.
Gwendoline Christie attracts a lot of attention on red carpets, and it’s not so much because she’s way taller than all of her colleagues, but because of her incredible charisma. The future star was born on October 28, 1978, in the English town of Worthing, and she grew up in a village near South Downs. Her mother was a housewife, and her father worked in sales and marketing. As a child, Gwendoline loved dancing and was professionally involved in gymnastics, which she had to quit due to a back injury.
As a teenager, she loved watching foreign films, reading fashion magazines, and was interested in the acting profession. By the age of 14, her height was already over 180 cm. All of this made Gwendoline stand out from her peers, and as a result, they did not accept her.
Years later, the actress looks at this philosophically. Talking about her outstanding height seems to bore her, as well as constant questions about criticism, “I really don’t want to talk about mocking, I’m more interested in how to overcome it.” Moreover, she claims that she was really lucky because she had a strong personality.
At the age of 15, Gwendoline played the main role in the school play “Lady Macbeth” and realized, even despite her shyness, that she wanted to be an actress. Her parents supported her, even though she didn’t expect them to.
Christie learned about the acting profession at Drama Centre London. Her teachers warned her that it would be hard for her to find work with her appearance because she looked different from other actresses. And she was very shy about her appearance. But she remembers that Tilda Swinton, in Orlando, gave her confidence. She says, “I remember thinking, ’Well, she is in a film, she is otherworldly.’ I realized that maybe there is a place for me too.”
When the future star was 24 years old, she was noticed by photographer Polly Borland, who invited her to be a model for her photo project. This work brought attention to Gwendoline and helped her to love her body and accept her femininity.
Success in the film industry did not come right away. After getting her diploma, Gwendoline didn’t rush to pursue a career in film. She acted in theater, worked as a model, sang, worked as an assistant for actor and writer Simon Callow, and walked his dogs. In an interview, the actress admitted that she even thought of becoming a nun.
She received her first film roles relatively late, at the age of 29. Her movie debut was in the little-known fantasy drama The Time Surgeon. 4 years later, she appeared in the television series Wizards vs Aliens. And finally, the true breakthrough in her career happened — the role of Brienne of Tarth in the series, Game of Thrones.
This role seemed to have been specifically written for Christie. The fans of George Martin’s novels the series was based on discussed online that this actress would be perfect for the role of a tall, strong warrior. These discussions reached Gwendoline, and at the same time, someone even wrote directly to the actress’s agent, suggesting that she should audition for this role. So she started training and preparing for the role several months before casting even started. As soon as the casting directors saw her in character, nobody doubted that the role would go to her.
Gwendoline noted that after reading the book, she was impressed by Brienne. According to the actress, the fact that she also had to deal with mockery about her height and unconventional appearance made her feel a kinship with the character. To prepare for the role, the actress cut her long hair (which was the most difficult part for her), hired a boxing coach, learned fencing and horseback riding, and started wearing unisex clothing to change the way she walked and understand the character deeper.
The role of Brienne became her first full-fledged screen role, and she got it when she was 33. Later, she said that this character changed her life. But initially, Gwendoline did not have any illusions about the success of the series or her career, so even after shooting her role in the now-cult series, she still continued to walk dogs.
Gwendoline later said, “No one was more surprised than me that people liked my character in Game of Thrones.” She had doubts because her character wasn’t conventionally attractive. This is why she was shocked people liked her so much.
Her amazing acting got a series of awards. Christie was nominated for the 2019 Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. By the way, Gwendoline submitted her character for the candidate list herself, even though the show creators didn’t do it. She explained, “I had to do it as a testament to the character and what I feel she represents.”
Later, she was in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, Top of the Lake. And of course, she got a brilliant role as Nevermore Academy headmistress Larissa Weems in Tim Burton’s series Wednesday.
In this role, Gwendoline felt beautiful on the screen for the first time ever thanks to director Tim Burton and costume designer Colleen Atwood, along with the rest of the crew who were responsible for makeup and hair.
The famous director gave Gwendoline full freedom for her character. The actress wanted to give her powerful and strong character more femininity. She was inspired by the main character from Hitchcock’s The Birds. In an interview, Christie noted that she loved turning into characters that are not like her at all. And this role is a great example.
Gwendoline is also closely connected to the fashion world for a different reason. Since 2013, she has been in a relationship with fashion designer Giles Deacon, who she’s been good friends with for a long time. He is best known for designing Pippa Middleton’s wedding dress. Christie supports Deacon in everything, regularly appearing in his dresses and calling him one of her favorite designers.
Gwendoline Christie once said, “As a woman, we all want to feel attractive. We all want to feel that we’re making the very best of ourselves, so we can accept ourselves.”
It seems that there are no viewers that don’t see her charm on the screen. Her success proves the fact that beauty standards change very often, and any of us can achieve whatever we want, no matter what other people think.