Carice Van Houten Game of Thrones Interview Melisandre Season 6

Carice van Houten on Melisandre’s renewed faith

HBO’s Making Game of Thrones blog talked with actress Carice van Houten (Melisandre) about her character’s resurgence of faith following the successful resurrection of Jon Snow, and about where the character is going this season. (“We start with messy Melisandre – she looks bad, she doesn’t sleep – to her slowly regaining her faith and her confidence… slowly feeling like she has a place in this game.”) If you haven’t yet seen Episode 603, “Oathbreaker,” then turn back now, as there will be SPOILERS.

Melisandre, Davos, and Jon

At the start of the season, as we saw, Melisandre was at something of a loose end. “We see her quite devastated,” Van Houten said. “Her whole faith has tumbled down, and she’s very, very confused.” This was the dejected Melisandre that came riding back into Castle Black at the end of Season 5, after she abandoned Stannis. At the very least, that allowed her and Davos to get a little closer.

He can see her vulnerability for the first time. She’s more approachable. They’re in the same boat because they both lost. First they lost Stannis, and then Jon Snow, who they had high hopes for. That bonds us a little bit.

I wonder if that will change if Davos finds out about the manner of Shireen’s death. It’s tough when friends fight.

Moving on, Van Houten talked about the other big surprise of the season: Melisandre’s age. Apparently, she’s known that secret for a long while now.

It was very early in shooting the whole series. I knew at some point we were going to go back to the subject, but it didn’t come for a long time so I thought, “Well, we’ll see when it comes.” Then when I read the script last year I was like, “Oh yes, I love this. It’s going to be so shocking.

To show-only watchers, the fact that Melisandre looked like she was 400 years old was definitely a shock, and it definitely kicked Season 6 off with a withered old bang. Then there’s the fact that Van Houten was in on the Jon-Snow-is-dead-but-coming-back lie.

I’ve gotten so many questions, and I’ve been lying to all these poor people, but I had to, for the greater good. I’m sure nobody would have wanted me to spoil it. It was also fun to have that secret with us for a long time, although I think my aging was a bigger secret at some point than the resurrection.

I think Van Houten is wrong on this point, but whatever gets her through the night.

Come with me if you want some spoilers

Elsewhere on the Making Game of Thrones blog, Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H’ghar, aka Sexy Jesus) talked to HBO about his tough love approach with Arya.

I think he definitely has a soft spot for Arya. Otherwise he wouldn’t be spending that much time with her and really trying to give her the best training she can get. Obviously, Arya doesn’t see it that way. After Season 5, I got a lot of reactions from the audience asking, “Why? What did you do?” But from his point of view, over the seasons, Jaqen has been very consistent with what he wants. He picked Arya for a reason, and he’s not making it easy for her, but hopefully that’s in her best interest.

Would that special interest be training her for a special mission back in Westeros? A man can dream.

HBO asked Wlaschiha why Jaqen chose blindness as Arya’s punishment:

It made sense to me because it seems cruel, but on the other hand, her other senses are going to get even sharper. Way back at the beginning, Arya says that she has to move like a cat and she has to be unseen. I think being blind just raises the bar to make it more difficult. At the same time, if she manages that, then that will make her even stronger.

Finally, HBO asked a funny little question about whether Jaqen is aware of the Waif ‘s “hatred” of Arya.

We shall see. But I think Jaqen knows everything; nothing goes unnoticed in the House of Black and White.

That’s an odd question to me, as I’ve never really seen the Waif as actually hating Arya. In fact, I’ve thought of the Waif as an extension of Jaqen, and that they’re both trying to make Arya the best acolyte of the Many Faced God as possible. As Wlaschiha says, we’ll see more as the season progresses.


    • I agree with you. There’s definite strong dislike emitting from the waif. Maybe she recognises someone stronger than she is and that Arya has a more important role to grow into, once she reaches her goal. Hopefully looking forward to Arya dishing some back to her at some point :) Maybe the waif senses that too?

  • If you look at the Waif/Arya interaction purely based on their depiction in the tv-show (excluding any knowledge of what happens in the books) then I think it is fairly obvious that the Waif is holding some kind of a personal grudge against Arya. From the very beginning the Waif was muttering something about Arya having “a coin she didn’t deserve”. Again, excluding any knowledge of how the story plays out in the books, it seems Arya’s personal connection to Jaqen is a source of irritation for the Waif. Maybe that along with the fact that she knows Arya comes from Noble family is part of the reason why she doesn’t like her. And in the last training session with Arya, when Arya finally gives the Waif a good hit with her staff, the Waif’s return attack was filled with rage. Someone who was simply “training” Arya wouldn’t have that kind of rage against her.