The woman behind Westeros' fiercest fighter tells HBO.com about Brienne's commitment to Sansa, the revelations from her past and what occasion warrants a raincoat.
HBO: Brienne is so broken at the start of this season. Is that challenging to play?
Gwendoline Christie: When I read the scripts and saw the place Brienne was in, it was a little heartbreaking because you don't expect or want to see that woman's spirit broken. She's so strong. She's overcome so much in her past. You see it in the quote she tells herself in Feast for Crows, "Words are wind. Let them wash over you."
She puts her entire body and soul into overcoming the Hound so that she can rescue Arya and then the Stark girl is gone, and she feels like everything is lost. She carries on, but this seems to be a moment of real emotional destitution. Those scenes are challenging, but that's what makes them so wonderful to play.
HBO: Littlefinger brings up Brienne's "history of failure." Does she see it that way?
Gwendoline Christie: I think that the deeper self of Brienne does see it that way, and I think that Littlefinger has such a brilliant and electric mind that he can assess that that's precisely what will cripple Brienne. And it does – we see it. She strode into this situation with strength, power, determination and positivity that she would rescue Sansa and move on – and, of course, that's not what happens. She's humiliated by this man in front of this woman who is in part, the living embodiment of Catelyn Stark, who she dedicated her life to. It is just crushing.
HBO: What did she expect from Sansa?
Gwendoline Christie: I think she expects to swear the oath in a way that mirrors how she swore the oath to Catelyn Stark in Season 2, and that somehow, mystically or physically, Sansa Stark would recognize that bond in her blood and go with her.
Brienne has such tunnel vision that all she cares about is her objective – to rescue Sansa. That's part of what makes her unstoppable. And it's why it is so crushing when we do see her entertain doubt… and we may well continue to.
HBO: How pervasive are her doubts at this point?
Gwendoline Christie: There's something about the battle and horse chase that ensues [in "The House of Black and White"] that reinvigorates Brienne. She's great at the physical – she can overcome obstacles so easily with her physical actions and her death-defying acts. She also has another project in the form of Podrick.
She sees something of herself in Podrick, someone who has been marginalized as unsuitable to become what they want – a knight. She sees that she played a part in that, and treated him the way that she had been treated in the past. She decides to change that and to empower him. It's in that act of good that she becomes reinvigorated in her mission.
HBO: Brienne tells Pod that she'd "never been so happy" as she was at the ball. Is there a part of her that wants that life?
Gwendoline Christie: Women are all brought up with a series of conventional expectations, so one cannot help but want recognition or affirmation in those areas. I think what's so beautiful and interesting about the character of Brienne of Tarth is yes, she's strong; she's a badass; she has vulnerability. But in all of her lack of convention and her uniqueness, all women can identify with her because she wants to be loved in the way that as human beings – male or female – we all want to be loved. We see the pureness of her humanity, and that she's something that isn't so far away from all of us.
HBO: Did that experience at the ball shape who she is today?
Gwendoline Christie: In my estimation, it just gave her further fuel to become the person that she wanted to be.
HBO: How about Renly's murder?
Gwendoline Christie: It was enormous. She witnessed someone that she had a very pure, long and everlasting love for die in front of her. Although it wasn't really her fault – it was the shadow baby – but she's a sensitive soul and she beats herself up something rotten. Under this exterior of an incredible badass who doesn't care about being traditionally feminized, there is a very pure heart that feels that she has failed on a very basic level. Now she wants to do more good to make up for that.
HBO: She's clear about her feelings for Renly, but what's your take on her relationship with Jaime?
Gwendoline Christie: I'm not going to answer that because I think it's more exciting for the audience to watch it and turn it over in their own minds. There's something about that dynamic that not even those guys know what's going on. It's really progressive as a relationship template. One of the many things that's extraordinary about Game of Thrones is that they produce fresh representations of relationships between men and women, which are long overdue.
HBO: In your wildest dreams, who would you want to have a scene with?
Gwendoline Christie: Varys.
HBO: What's your ideal pet: Dragon, direwolf or Ser Pounce?
Gwendoline Christie: Ser Pounce. I'm not a cat person at all but I think that cat has quite a lot of swagger.
HBO: Who would you want to see on the Iron Throne?
Gwendoline Christie: Hodor.
HBO: As a viewer, what's your house allegiance?
Gwendoline Christie: Tarth! But also, I love the Lannisters. They're just too juicy for words. Such a rowdy bunch.
HBO: You're invited to a GoT wedding? Do you go?
Gwendoline Christie: Definitely. I want a seat at the front. And a rain mac that's spatter-proof.