Captain Phasma isn't going anywhere.
"I will be in the next Star Wars movie," Gwendoline Christie, 37, said of returning for Star Wars: Episode VIII, to be directed by Rian Johnson. "I think that's an exclusive, actually."
It's the first time the role reprisal has been confirmed, but Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy had hinted in December that Christie would get more screen time in the next installment. "She's an important character," she told The Los Angeles Times, "a baddie in the best sense of the word."
Christie, perhaps best known for playing Brienne of Tarth in HBO's Game of Thrones, says she was "very overexcited" to land a role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has earned nearly $2 billion worldwide. "I made no secret of the fact that I really campaigned for the part for a long time," she told People. "And then I was delighted when J.J. Abrams wanted to have me in the film and then wanted to cast me in this role that had originally been designed for a man."
Similarly, the actress said she loves the "incredible" armor she got to wear as commander of the First Order. "I thought the costume was incredibly striking. "I also just liked this notion of a female stormtrooper. I felt it encouraged diversity and it was doing something new and it was an interesting bit of casting for women," she said, "and I hope that in something that was such a mainstream success it would breed more of those kind of opportunities for other women."
Christie thought a lot about how to best represent women with her role. "Kathleen Kennedy said to me, 'Have you ever Googled 'female heroines'? I said, 'No,' and she did it for me," she told The Los Angeles Times. "If you do it, there are a lot of scantily clad women. Now women should be allowed to dress exactly however they choose, but the idea that you Google female heroines and there isn't a diverse range of examples that come up, I find it a bit depressing."
"We see women in a different range of roles in the film. And the reason I love my character so much and I feel so enthusiastic about Capt. Phasma is, yes, she's cool, she looks cool, she's a villain—but more than that, we see a female character and respond to her not because of the way she looks. We respond to her because of her actions," Christie continued. "I think we're a society that has promoted a homogenized idea of beauty in women—and in men—and I think it's really interesting, modern and necessary to have a female character that isn't about the way her body looks. It isn't about her wearing makeup. It's not about her being conventionally feminized. The idea of this enormous legacy and franchise embracing an idea like that, which of course to many of us feels logical, is actually really progressive. And long overdue."
Star Wars: Episode VIII will hit theaters Dec. 15, 2017.