Calgary Expo 2015: Gwendoline Christie
Updated: May 16, 2020
I lined up with my dad for Gwendoline Christie's autograph. Just before she arrived, a volunteer stepped up onto the table to lay down the ground rules. After he had firmly established the 'dos' and 'don'ts', despite the rude interruption of an Expo announcement over the pa system, he added...
“Don’t tell Ming-Na Wen, or any of the others, but Gwendoline is my favorite! She’s super SUPER nice, so please make this SO awesome that she’ll keep coming back.”
I had never before heard a volunteer say something like that before. I wonder if anyone told Gwendoline Christie about this? Dang it! I should have told her! Why must it be that ONLY hindsight is 20/20?! *clears throat*
My point being that what the volunteer had said was so very sweet and flattering. <3 “Also, her agent’s name is *censored*, so when you get up there to pay be sure to address her by name. It’ll freak her out.”
That's hilarious! Also, I completely forgot to do this as well, dammit!
Before I continue, I think I should explain how lines work at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo ( at least, how they worked this year ): for every table there are two line ups, one for V.I.P.s and one for everyone else. Now, until this particular line, there hadn’t been an issue with this system ( this includes the gong show that was Neil Patrick Harris’s line up ).
So, here’s what happened with the line for Gwendoline Christie’s autograph.
When she arrived, she radiated joy. Like Felica Day and Neil Patrick Harris, she is sunshine. After a kind and lovely introduction, she settled in to start her autograph session. As is tradition, the V.I.P.s got to go first and the rest of us mere muggles waited patiently for our turn. Except that our turn never came because the V.I.P. line was literally endless! Think I’m using the word ‘literally’ incorrectly? Consider the following*: the non-V.I.P. line up—which I was in—only moved by three spaces after a full hour.
Yeah, the system wasn’t working.
Probably didn't help that, for some reason, they were letting parents with strollers into the V.I.P. line ( the ones without VIP badges ) because, if you ask me, that made the line all the more endless.
What. The. Bleep?!
What they should have been doing, what the poor volunteer in charge of the end of the line wanted to do—what they did for the Neil Patrick Harris mob of a line—was to ALTERNATE between VIP attendees and us muggle Deluxe/Regular attendees. Why? Because this system still gets the V.I.P.s their autographs real quick while permitting the rest of us to make some progress.
Alas, it took about an hour and a half for whoever’s in charge to realize this.
BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!!!
My dad scored an ironic photo with the guy who was in charge of making sure no one took photos
She was a GODDESSS!!!
<3 <3 <3
When we finally reached the end of the line, my dad met with Gwendoline Christie first and they had an awesome conversation! I’ve paraphrased it here for your reading pleasure, because my dad is cool. :D
Dad: First I’d like to say that you really are a knight.
Gwendoline: Aw, thank you!
Dad: Second I wanted to tell you a story, if I may?
Gwendoline: *settles in to listen*
Dad: My son is 23, an electrical apprentice, and works out every day. Unfortunately he’s got three sisters and a Parisian mother, so you can understand if he’s a little reserved.
Gwendoline: *little chuckle at ‘Parisian mother’ and nods*
Dad: So a few months ago my son comes to me and asks “You know Brienne the Knight from 'Game of Thrones'”. Now, I thought he was going to tell me she's going to die in the next episode or something, so I said “Yeah?” Then my son says “She’s hot!”
Me: *poor brother*
Dad: Now understand that this is a huge compliment because he’s never, ever said that about a woman to me before. Never!
Gwendoline: Aw, how sweet.
Dad: So if you’re so inclined, maybe thrown in the number to a burner cell or a private e-mail with your signature
Gwendoline: *laughing* Private e-mail?! XD
Gwendoline: I signed with a couple kisses and some hearts, is that alright?
Dad: That’s perfect!
My Dad the wingman, ladies and gentlemen. XD
Now it was my turn. ^_^;;
I told her something along the lines of how I really love her portrayal of the character. How she comes across as strong and firm while still struggling with a world that is against who she is and what she wants to be. How I could see it all in her eyes. How inspiring Brienne's struggle to succeed was, that despite facing of failure after failure she refused to give up. Something like that, though probably less articulate. -_-;;
Then I told her, something like, that her portrayal of Brienne was one of the few—very few—female fictional characters I liked. She seemed real, as in that I felt she was a person and not an object. Her character wasn’t about her gender but about her history, her skills and her choices. Again, something like that but probably—definitely—not as well worded.
I wouldn’t be surprised that, after my Dad and I, if she was as red as a tomato. ^^;;
After Hayley Atwell’s panel ended, we waited patiently for Gwendoline Christie’s panel to start. Soon after my dad joined us from wherever he was, our patience was rewarded. :D
I’m going to jot down some of the stories he shared in point form here because my memory is terrible and I need to get this down before I forget:
After her introduction, Gwendoline strode onto the stage, exuding elation, and hugged the moderator. She was jittery as she sat down. “God lord! There’s so many of you! Thank you so much!” She then addressed the moderator, “Remember how we were talking about this panel earlier and I asked 'How many people will there be? What, like 40 people?'” XD
The moderator quickly got 'the big question' out of the way, the one everyone knows she can’t answer. She was so sincerely apologetic for not being able to talk about her role in the upcoming "Hunger Games" film or her role in the new "Star Wars". “Having worked on these projects personally I can guarantee... It's worth the wait!” Then she cheered, “We’re going to have a great Christmas!!!”
”The most complimentary, but incorrect, rumor is that I was a model and never trained as an actress. If only, but no. I was a semi-professional gymnast until I was injured at the age of 11. After the injury I knew I couldn’t pursue gymnastics anymore so, as I was a little girl, I was like ‘Oh well! I’ll be an actress.'” XD So she attended an academy ( Drama Centre London ) and was thoroughly trained as an actress. When she graduated drama school the teachers were supportive but pessimistic/realistic. No one expected her to find work, but she did end up working pretty consistently in live theatre. Her agent eventually asked “What is it that you want to do, exactly?” and she was like “I want to be on an HBO show!” Her agent scoffed, “Pfft! Good luck with that!” then ten months passed and... <3
When she first googled Brienne or Tarth, Gwendoline was completely enthralled by her. A woman in another time—another world—struggling against social conventions. “She spoke to me!” “God, I wanted that part!” When she heard that she might be up for the part, she worked her ass off and... She got it! :D
Once cast, she was trained in sword fighting and hand-to-hand and combat on horseback. Also, they had her change her walk because “we have to butch you up!” and she admits that they were right. XD
Between seasons, she was reading the books and came across a scene that got her really excited. She went to show runners and asked, “Umm... In the book... She fights a bear... Can I fight a bear?” and the guy in charge was like “Umm...” which really wasn’t much of an answer so she asked “Is that a no?” and the answer was “Wha- OH! No, no, no... I was just imaging asking the producer to acquire a live bear.” He got the bear. Gwendoline was adamant that she do absolutely everything herself with the bear. Which seemed to be alright until she got a call saying “You can’t do everything yourself.” “What? Why?” “Because the bear HITS you in the FACE!" Gwendoline paused for dramatic effect before revealing her response to such reasonable concern. “I don't care.” XD So the part where Brienne gets hit by the bear is actually the bear’s male trainer in a dress and wig. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, a.k.a. Jamie Lannister, later teased her “Have you met your stunt double? Perfect likeness!” The bear was treated like a King: they constantly played country music to soothe him, he got a frying pan full of whipped whenever he did something right (or wrong) and every time entered a room or space everyone had to applaud. ... Gwendoline was like “Can I get that treatment?” <3 She eventually summed up this line of questioning by saying, “Just when I thought this part can't get better, she fights a bear! And later she fights a dog.” *winks*
When she first watched the show and Jamie Lannister... “He was doing something intimate... With a family member... Then he just pushes this kid out the window and I was like I love this show!!” “At first he was putrid but now I don’t know. He's complicated.”
When asked about the fight scene with The Hound, she said, “Umm... It wasn’t a walk in the park. Reading that scene I was like 'Oh I'm gonna die.... Or maybe not.” She praised the choreographer, C.C. Smith, for brilliantly organizing the fight sequence so that it would be epic and so that nobody was really hurt. Gwendoline paused mysteriously while the implications sunk in. “There were some times where I cried but was like 'be strong!” The fight scene was shot in Iceland. She had to walk backward on a mountain landscape while fighting a 6′7″ man twice her weight while in full armor in unseasonably hot weather and she was like “I’m going to make this look like a breeze! Doing this over and over for 12 hrs.”
The panel nearly ends with the moderator spoiling the new season of "Game of Thrones", but Gwendoline yelled “Some people haven't watched it yet!” just in time. The moderator was smooth, though, and finished his sentence, “...and this guy turned out to be his dad. And, who knew Brienne was really Joffery's father?” Laughing, Gwendoline confessed, “I was kind of hoping she’d end up with Jon Snow.” XP
However, the panel did end with Gwendoline giving the crowd one teeny tiny spoiler: “I'll leave you with this: STEEL yourself for some action!”