We’ve heard for ages that Captain Phasma, the Star Wars villain played by Gwendoline Christie, was originally written as a man. We now know that’s true. Lawrence Kasdan told Vulture making Phasma a woman was a last-minute decision—but they never told Christie this.
“I...don’t...know that that’s true,” Christie said to io9 when we asked her about it at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens junket Sunday. She looked around the room, completely shocked, then added. “I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that at all.”
Well, it seems like Christie’s reaction, along with the rumor, were both rooted in truth. A few hours later, Christie spoke to Vulture who brought up the same point. The difference being this time was, Vulture had just gotten confirmation from screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan that Phasma was originally male. After The Force Awakens unveiled its first cast photo, featuring only one new female character, online media outlets (including io9) criticized the male-dominated cast—and it turns out this was a major factor in their decision.
“Everything was happening simultaneously,” Kasdan told Vulture. “When the idea came up to make Phasma female, it was instantaneous: Everyone just said, ‘Yes. That’s great.”
That was the first time Christie heard confirmation of the rumor we’d mentioned earlier.
“Really?” Christie exclaimed to Vulture. “It’s so interesting, because I’m really uncovering more about this film from people like you than I knew before!”
When he told her Kasdan’s quote, Christie was humbled. “I think that’s great of them, don’t you?” she said. “That there was a discussion about that, and an evolution?”
That evolution has created an instantly iconic Star Wars character. One fans are already putting on a pedestal with characters like Boba Fett.
“What feels so modern about Captain Phasma is that we are used to forming our immediate relationships with female characters, conventionally, due to the way they are made flesh,” Christie told io9. “So for us to form our immediately and initial relationship with this character, who happens to be a female character, who happens to be Star Wars first female villain on screen, I felt that was really modern. That we respond to her through her character and her actions initially rather than the way she’s made flesh.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18.
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