After playing the warrior Brienne Of Tarth in Game of Thrones, the English actress Gwendoline Christie celebrates her participation in Merlina, the new series directed by Tim Burton, not only because it has been a catapult for her career, but also because she enjoys interpreting a character like Larissa Weems with whom she has a special connection.
This likeable performer with an imposing personality and height (she measures 1.91), did not always have an easy life. When she started acting, she revealed that she often felt ‘genderless’ and harassed because of her height and androgynous appearance, a ‘weird’, just like the boys at Merlina’s ‘Neverland’ school and that her own character like Principal Weems. “I lived school as a very difficult experience, it was very challenging and very painful for me. What has come out of that though is that I’ve gotten much better at identifying who my personas are and going where the sunshine is, where the love is, where I am. And I found, when I left school, groups of people who loved me, understood me and celebrated me and that taught me to never stop looking in life, never stop exploring and being curious, because your reality doesn’t have to end where finish your nose, there is always something more”, he tells us in an exclusive interview through Zoom.
In fact, this experience helped her build Larissa Weems, that intimidating director who seems to be there to make life miserable for Merlina (Jenna Ortega), but who in solitude drags her own story as an outsider. Weems, too, created a special bond between her and series director Tim Burton. “That’s something we discussed with Tim around. When we first got close to the character, he told me: ‘Think about school, about how you hated school.’ I asked him: ‘Did you hate school?’ and he answered me: ‘Yes, I hated school too’ and it was incredible to have that bond at that moment, with that great director, where we were both able to transport ourselves back to being children, hating everything lack of power that you can feel, and at the same time At the same time, as here we are two grown students, who are lucky enough to be artists, who dedicate themselves to art for a living and who have definitely found meaning in their existence in life”.
“A liberating dream”
Christie, who we have also seen in the Star Wars saga as Captain Phasma and in The Hunger Games with the role of Commander Lyme, considers it a privilege to have been under the orders of a director like Tim Burton. “It has been a dream, I cannot tell you how liberating it has been, every day was an inspiration. She was looking forward to seeing what she found out, or what she could find out, about character, about relationships, about actually making movies, and how to be a better artist. From Tim I learned a lot and from my colleagues, I felt very lucky to be there, I felt incredibly lucky. It’s something I’d like to do all my life and not disappoint.”
Regarding her character, Gwendoline highlights her strength and humanity. “I think she’s a commander. She is very much in the service of the greater good, busy creating a safe environment for these marginalized youth to grow up, be themselves, and become happy, functional adults. I’ve had to deal with the unreality of that situation like the dynamics between normals and outcasts, but I also think she has her own ego and her own legacy in all of this: how you want to be remembered, how you want to be recognized, the kind of power that she hopes to keep, I think I rescue it. What I take away from her is her humanity, she has some very human angles and facets”.
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