Emmy nominee Carice van Houten on her “favorite thing” about Game of Thrones

Melisandre the long night

Game of Thrones actress Carice van Houten will cap off a big year with another big night this evening, as she competes for an Emmy. Will she take home the prize? We don’t know, but either way, her controversial character went out well in the show’s final season.

The actress discusses her beginnings with Game of Thrones, Melisandre’s tumultuous turns in Westeros, and more in a new interview with SYFY.

Though it’s the role most associated with her now,  van Houten wasn’t sure she even wanted to go for it initially when approached about the Red Priestess. Though she thought the script was well-written, she says she thought, “Is this for me?’ and reached out to “the biggest fantasy fan she knew”, her ex-boyfriend’s brother, who happens to be comedian/TV host, Seth Meyers. Meyers responded to her questions about GoT with, “Are you crazy? This is the coolest thing ever!”

The rest is history, of course. She took the role, and Melisandre was part of some of the show’s most notorious scenes. “My favorite thing was when [Melisandre] hears that the burning of Shireen was all for nothing,” van Houten tells SYFY, regaarding the moment the priestess comes to realize that King Stannis’ army has abandoned him. The sacrifice of the child earned them nothing, and cost them a great deal. It’s a beautifully acted scene.
Melisandre

“Her whole world comes tumbling down in that moment,” van Houten says. “After Shireen’s death, I felt like I was playing a completely different character.”

The character’s intentions and morality are often debated. But, “I never saw her as evil,” she tells SYFY.  “I didn’t want to play her as a Cruella de Vil. But for a few seasons, I was the most-hated character, because I burnt a child alive. I don’t blame them. But after the Battle of Winterfell, everyone sort of forgot that!”

Carice discusses much more about her character at SYFY, so head on over there to read the full article.

The Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series will be presented tonight at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, where van Houten will be in attendance. Follow along on Twitter as we cheer for Carice and Game of Thrones!

18 responses

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    1. “I didn’t want to play her as a Cruella de Vil. But for a few seasons, I was the most-hated character, because I burnt a child alive. I don’t blame them. But after the Battle of Winterfell, everyone sort of forgot that!”

      So, I certainly didn’t forget and neither did Davos. But I have to say, this was a great allegory for what can happen when fanatics are so certain they know the truth. It always amazed me how people can be so certain about something that may have happened thousands of years ago. They have no doubt that they are right and are even willing to burn a child alive. It was an important message to tell when Melisandre realizes she isn’t all knowing. She humbles herself and knows her time is coming to an end. She does her best to help Arya and her fellow people, and then she returns to dust as all humans must eventually do.

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    2. ”But for a few seasons, I was the most-hated character, because I burnt a child alive. I don’t blame them. But after the Battle of Winterfell, everyone sort of forgot that!”
      – Carice VH

      ——-
      That’s what happens when you join Team ASNAWP.

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    3. Melisandre got both the best entrance and the best death of any character in all of Game of Thrones, and that is really saying something.

      As we discover in Kinvara’s dialog with Varys and Tyrion, not all Red Priests are as fanatic as was Melisandre. Her belief seemed to be a special version, perhaps because she was preaching her god in a foreign land. Van Houten managed to play all the facets of Melisandre very well, even though it was a departure from her lighter, more comedic roles. The sparring between her and Davos made for some of the best “high thread count” scenes in a story full of them.

      Let’s hope everyone in GoT gets properly awarded tonight!

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    4. We owe Seth Meyers a debt of gratitude. I adore Carice, and she made me love Mel. One of the best deaths in GoT. Like Aemon, one could say she died of “old age” – natural causes after such an unnatural life.

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    5. The Wrap while Creative Arts Emmys are in progress: “The final season of the epic HBO series has won awards for casting, music, main-title design, picture editing, sound mixing and stunt coordination — though perhaps surprisingly, it was beaten by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” for cinematography.” For some reason it’s often not done well in that category. Perhaps this year frustration with The Long DAAAAARK Night was a factor. In any case, no word on Carice yet.

      https://www.thewrap.com/primetime-creative-arts-emmys-day-2-complete-list-of-winners-updating-live/

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    6. Stark Raven’ Rad:
      The Wrap while Creative Arts Emmys are in progress: “The final season of the epic HBO series has won awards for casting, music, main-title design, picture editing, sound mixing and stunt coordination — though perhaps surprisingly, it was beaten by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” for cinematography.” For some reason it’s often not done well in that category.Perhaps this year frustration with The Long DAAAAARK Night was a factor.In any case,no word on Carice yet.

      https://www.thewrap.com/primetime-creative-arts-emmys-day-2-complete-list-of-winners-updating-live/

      Carice got snubbed and GoT only won 10 awards compared to their previous record of 12. Not a good sign for the main Emmy’s show and the possible sweep for GoT’s swan song. I expect them to lose every acting category except maybe supporting for Dinklage. The academy loved “The Long Night” though. They awarded it 5 times, including Best Picture Editing.

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    7. From the article:
      The Game of Thrones team initially asked the Dutch actress to audition for the role of Queen Cersei

      You know, once I see a character played by a specific actor for so long, especially one as fantastic as Lena, I can’t really imagine someone else playing that character. But I think this is one instance where I could definitely have seen Carice play Cersei. oOOoo And the SyFy article made a mistake saying Carice’s final return was in “season 7.” Woops.

      I’m saddened, but not surprised Carice didn’t win. I personally think Gwen and Maisie have a good chance of winning. But I think Billy Porter and the Killing Eve cast will be the contenders to beat.

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    8. It’s amazing indeed (like Jamie did when he pushed Bran from the window) how Melisandre can do something truly awful then become almost a fan favourite just a few episodes later when she brings Jon back from the dead. People criticise the writing but I loved Melisandre and Carice performance during the Long Night battle.

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    9. I wanted so much to hear her acceptance speech. ;; }[email protected]

      Melisandre has been among my favorite characters for a long time. Reading LiveJournal entries from back when I’d started the series, I see that I’d been initially unsure and distrustful of her, but soon enough I began to understand why she was what she was and did what she did. And I’m so happy that this led to my gaining a new all-time favorite actress. I’ve often wondered what her approach to Cersei would’ve been…that’s a tough one to imagine, even though I do believe she could manage to do anything well…

      I felt as if Meli seemed more fanatical than other members of the Red priesthood because not only did we know her a lot better than any others, but she seemed to have…maybe a more special relationship with the LoL…she’d fully devoted herself to locating and aiding the Azor Ahai/PWWP figure. Kinvara popped in to tell Varys & Tyrion that she’d decided it was Dany, so her crew would help them by preaching in her favor–but that’s kind of all we got. In the end, Dany & co. were out there fighting and the ONLY one who showed up to help was Mel. (After having helped ensure this crucial ice-and-fire union.) I expected her to lead an army of red reinforcements against the NK and AotD! But nope, ’twas all her. And once she’d seen to it that the NK had been slain by the one apparently best equipped to do that, she simply walked off to finally rejoin her beloved god of light. The one she’d spent so long implicitly trusting to guide her down the necessary path. It was a job well done, fulfilling her life’s goal of literally preventing humanity’s demise, and she was spent and ready to go…she really did have the best entrance AND exit! ;.;

      Jack Bauer 24: Carice got snubbed and GoT only won 10 awards compared to their previous record of 12. Not a good sign for the main Emmy’s show and the possible sweep for GoT’s swan song. I expect them to lose every acting category except maybe supporting for Dinklage. The academy loved “The Long Night” though. They awarded it 5 times, including Best Picture Editing.

      I’m feeling this too.

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    10. Pigeon:
      We owe Seth Meyers a debt of gratitude. I adore Carice, and she made me love Mel. One of the best deaths in GoT. Like Aemon, one could say she died of “old age” – natural causes after such an unnatural life.

      Until I read this in the post above, I was not aware Seth Meyers had a hand in convincing CVH to take on the role of Melisandre:

      ”Though it’s the role most associated with her now, van Houten wasn’t sure she even wanted to go for it initially when approached about the Red Priestess. Though she thought the script was well-written, she says she thought, “Is this for me?’ and reached out to “the biggest fantasy fan she knew”, her ex-boyfriend’s brother, who happens to be comedian/TV host, Seth Meyers. Meyers responded to her questions about GoT with, “Are you crazy? This is the coolest thing ever!”

      This also may explain how Seth Meyers had an “in” to get CVH to appear in character in the skit on his show, Late Night with Seth Meyers:
      “Seth Brings Melisandre to a Baby Shower”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5C6kG57J7Q

      It’s always worth a rewatch. 😁 (And who knew when this was aired around 3-4 years ago that it would foreshadow Melisandre igniting the trenches in S8e3?)

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    11. Shelle,

      ”… I felt as if Meli seemed more fanatical than other members of the Red priesthood because not only did we know her a lot better than any others, but she seemed to have…maybe a more special relationship with the LoL…she’d fully devoted herself to locating and aiding the Azor Ahai/PWWP figure. Kinvara popped in to tell Varys & Tyrion that she’d decided it was Dany, so her crew would help them by preaching in her favor–but that’s kind of all we got. In the end, Dany & co. were out there fighting and the ONLY one who showed up to help was Mel. (After having helped ensure this crucial ice-and-fire union.) I expected her to lead an army of red reinforcements against the NK and AotD! But nope, ’twas all her…”

      _______
      Mel wasn’t the only one to show up. Let’s not forget the Lord of Light’s equivalent of Seal Team Six: Beric Dondarrion, Red Priest Thoros of Myr, Sandor Clegane, and the rest of the Brotherhood Without Banners who had made a beeline to the front lines as soon as they learned that “cold winds are rising in the north.”

      It seemed to me that at least on the show, Thoros’s crew had “a more special relationship with the LoL.” They got static-free reception of visions in the flames, clearer instructions on where to go, active roles in battles against AotD, and multiple resurrections by LoL, and ultimately, fulfilling the LoL’s purpose of those resurrections: to protect the Princess That Was Promised aka ASNAWPTWP.

      Despite their belief in the LoL, the BwoB never drank the Kool Aid as far as burning people alive, anointing a particular person as the savior, or committing atrocities in the name of their god. (Their one demerit: selling off Gendry.)

      All’s well that ends well: In the end, Melisandre joined with Beric and Sandor to serve the LoL’s purpose after, as Beric had forecast to Arya and Sandor: “The Lord of Light has brought us together all the same. This is his moment.”

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    12. My (unpopular, no doubt) opinion:

      I don’t feel that Carice should have won in the Guest category, in fact I don’t think she should have been nominated. Carice played a regular character. I know that as she appeared in only one episode this series, she technically qualified as a guest but it doesn’t seem to me to be in the spirit of the award.

      For me, a “guest” actor is someone who blows in for one episode, such as Birgitte Hjort Sørensen who played Karsi in ‘Hardhome’.
      Cherry Jones was only in one episode of THT, she played the part of the main character’s mother in a flashback. That’s a guest actress.

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    13. Ten Bears,

      True, I was thinking of the priests/priestesses as a whole…we sadly lost our Thoros, and Beric was definitely there fulfilling his destiny too. Not to mention successfully recruiting The Hound of all people. ^^ Mel’s certainly a lesson in being overly dogmatic, cocksure, and fanatical, even in pursuit of noble intentions…of course since she’s centuries old, I can perhaps be a bit understanding of her adherence to what I imagine might be the more intense, traditional side of the faith which involves sacrifices and whatnot. Thankfully everybody’s faith was ultimately rewarded because they all wound up being where they needed to be and able to do what they needed to do…coming together to pull off a victory, no matter how one might interpret the prophecy…

      Oh, the baby shower skit is hee-laaaarious. She’s too funny. The actual reason CvH knew Seth was that she “had dated his brother Josh and spent time with the Meyers family in both the U.S. and Holland.”

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    14. I enjoyed Carice’s GOT performances and wish her well in her career. She made Melisandre work really well in the story when it could have been ridiculous. Nice job!

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    15. Grandmaester Flash:
      My (unpopular, no doubt) opinion:

      I don’t feel that Carice should have won in the Guest category, in fact I don’t think she should have been nominated. Carice played a regular character. I know that as she appeared in only one episode this series, she technically qualified as a guest but it doesn’t seem to me to be in the spirit of the award.

      For me, a “guest” actor is someone who blows in for one episode, such as Birgitte Hjort Sørensen who played Karsi in ‘Hardhome’.
      Cherry Jones was only in one episode of THT, she played the part of the main character’s mother in a flashback. That’s a guest actress.

      I see the point. Evidently a regular can qualify as a guest time-wise, though, in a season…I know Cox’s character appeared in multiple OitNB episodes, so I guess it ends up being a mix. I still wish it had been her, I was pulling so hard. And I thought she was only presenting today; I was shocked when I heard the announcement (actually at first heard Lange had gotten it), because I can’t figure out why one acting category is separated from the rest.

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