Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be the first movie in the franchise to have a main female villain. And a lot of fans have wondered why the armor isn't more feminine. With the mask on, Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma looks like a glorified male stormtrooper. And that's for the better, suggest the actress. The character was originally written for a male. And there is definitely a bit of ambiguity to the Captain when looking at her in full costume. This isn't like any female character we've seen in this franchise before. Except maybe Boushh, who was actually Princess Leia in disguise.
Fans have been captivated by Captain Phasma since they first laid eyes on her in the first teaser trailer. She wears armor that is very similar to the First Order troops, only it is shiny chrome instead of flat white. The reveal that it is Gwendoline Christie under the mask, though, has been met with mixed reviews. Some love it, some hate it, and some are simply confused by it. And these reactions are coming from fans on both side of the gender divide. Gwendoline Christie recently talked about that with Variety.
Captain Phasma didn't just open up a pandora's box of sexual criticism, but the character also presented quite a few physical challenges for Gwendoline Christie. Thus far in her career, she has never played this type of costumed bad guy. Though, she has portrayed other females that don't necessary fit into conventional gender roles. Most notably, her performance as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones has been ridiculoud for being too masculine. But those criticism don't bother Gwendoline Christie. While we won't likely know more about the backstory behind Phasma until this December, Gwendoline Christie did discuss the very androgynous armor, and how she had to work with it to create a unique character unlike any we've seen in the Star Wars universe before.
"It was very important to J.J. that I was there acting a part. I found it to be a really interesting acting challenge, not just because of what I felt this character was representing and it was just what I felt, and we talked about it a little bit, but it was never like a manifesto, 'this is what it must be'...And it was exciting to me to have that weight of responsibility taken away, of having to be a certain way as a woman, to have to be mindful in a way that isn't always useful. To have that stripped away was very liberating, and it meant that as an actor I had to focus on other things. I had to focus on what my body was communicating and what exactly my voice is communicating. It becomes about the way in which you hold your hand, the way in which you walk, where your weight lies and what you want that to mean, and I wanted to give the character identity. I thought it was interesting to make something about the character identifiably female in a non-superficial way, and I hope that comes across."
Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma will display some sort of feminine mannerisms, though we're not sure what those are just yet. At the same time, she will definitely be subverting gender stereotypes with this character. In just the few pictures and footage that we've seen, we get no sense of Phasma's personality, and we haven't gotten to hear her voice yet. The performance will be a very physical one that depends on movements. And its possible that she will be the most scrutinized new character this sequel has to offer. About that, the actress stated the following.
"I don't think many female actors get the opportunity to play a part where they're not having to think about the way their face looks, but I found exactly the same thing with Brienne of Tarth, and that was very liberating. It was great as an actor to work on your skills, that it isn't about holding your head so you look beautiful. It's about what you're transmitting, and to be in service of an idea greater than yourself, whether it's the character's overriding objective or, beyond that, hopefully something more sociopolitical. We have seen an image of [Phasma] and again, it's an unconventional kind of woman exhibiting a kind of strength, but in a very different way to my other two characters."
Gwendoline Christie went onto speak about some of the public criticism of the character. In one particular tweet, the official Star Wars social media page responded to the fact that the armor isn't feminine looking by stating, "It's armor. On a woman. it doesn't have to look feminine." Gwendoline Christie had her own response to this as well, stating the following about the official Star Wars response.
"It was beautiful because it was informative, which is what we all need in order to tackle prejudice of any kind in our world ... to be fed information. That's just my opinion, that education combats fear, and fear leads to prejudice, so if we all become more educated, and if our mainstream media continues to expand and show a more realistic representation of women and of men... For instance, in 'The Hunger Games,' Katniss is an incredible woman, but Peeta also is a different kind of male hero. He's a different kind of male character because he has a rich emotional world and he isn't the brawny steadfast man that we have seen again and again."
Surely her outspoken nature about the character won't silence the haters. But it does give us more insight into her creative process and what we can expect from Captain Phasma, a character who won't really come into her own until we see her on the big screen in NEFz5bes3ViiI|The Force Awakens this December. And even then, she'll likely retain some mystery. You can check out the tweet that
Not to be sexist but pic.twitter.com/1oMgXN8maW— Amber Gordon (@missambear) August 28, 2015