Gwendoline Christie first shot to stardom in Season 2 of Game of Thrones as the awkward, ungainly Brienne of Tarth before going on to use her height to become a fixture in the high-fashion world. For her most recent role in Netflix’s Wednesday, Christie channeled her fashionista persona, serving fierce ice-blonde femme fatale looks that audiences adored. However, Christie’s quotes about Wednesday being the first time she felt beautiful on screen are a reminder of how hard it is in Hollywood for those who don’t conform to strict standards of beauty, and how ill-served she’s been in some of her roles.
Warning: Spoilers for Wednesday Season 1 follow. Christie plays Principal Larissa Weems in the new series, the head of Nevermore Academy and former roommate of Wednesday’s mother, Morticia. Upon meeting her, Wednesday at first suspected Weems was targeting her for some ancient grudge against her mother and was perhaps even being the monster she and Enid were searching for within the school’s walls. She was wrong; in fact, Weems kept an eye on Wednesday so she would be safe.
Christie is stunning as Weems, all coiffed hair and gorgeous costumes. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, she credited the series’ hair and makeup department for transforming her into the character. But her highest praise is for director Tim Burton and costume designer Colleen Atwood, who allowed her to make Weems into what she wanted from the outset.
Burton was the one who reached out to Christie initially and offered her the part without an audition. But it was what he said next that bowled her over. According to Christie, he told her, “You can do whatever you like with the character; feel free to make it whatever you want,” Christie told EW. “That was an unbelievable opportunity from this great cinematic master.”
Christie’s idea was to turn Weems into a “Hitchcock-style heroine,” mentioning “Tippi Hedren and Kim Novak” as inspiration. “I like to transform into characters and people that are very far away from myself, and I would never be cast as this part,” Christie said. “It is the first time I’ve ever felt beautiful on screen.”
For that, she credits Atwood specifically. “The way she made me feel was my body felt celebrated and beautiful. Never once did I feel like there was something to hide or something to be ashamed of. She made me feel incredible.”
Wednesday Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.