Carice van Houten and Ellie Kendrick talk about playing Melisandre and Meera Reed


Game of Thrones season 7 is achingly close, and more cast members are getting out there to speak their piece. Speaking to Country and Town House, Carice van Houten talks about the unique difficulties of playing a character like Melisandre. “I’ve never played a character that’s so far from myself,” she said.

"It was enjoyable to do something really different but at the same time it was harder to tap into her psyche. In other roles, I’ve been able to draw on my own insecurities, fears, obsessions and doubts. I found it easier to play her as her character developed and the cracks began to show. There’s a moment in the last season when she found out that she was wrong all along and that was one of my favourite scenes to play."

She’s probably referring to the moment in season 6’s “Home” where Melisandre, fresh off Stannis’ defeat at Winterfell, admits to Davos that she’d been wrong about all her predictions. It was a quick turnaround from a few episodes before when she was burning Shireen at the stake, a scene van Houten gained a new appreciation for after becoming a new mother. “Even though at the time I knew how horrific it was, it is only now that I’m a mother that I can really understand the impact that it must have had on the audience.”

So if van Houten found Melisandre to be a difficult character, why did she take the job in the first place? “Firstly that it was made by HBO, so I knew it would be of a really high quality,” she said. “Secondly that Melisandre was a very strong female character.”

"There are still many characters where you have to play ‘the girlfriend of so-and-so’. Of course we’ve made some steps in the right direction but as much as I feel like we’re progressing I do read some things and feel like we haven’t come very far at all. We shouldn’t give up though."

One thing you can definitely say for Game of Thrones: there are a wide variety of interesting female characters. Take Meera Reed, the rough-and-tumble Northerner who’s accompanied Bran on his journey north of the Wall and is now charged with dragging him back to civilization. Ellie Kendrick has played her since season 3. She spoke to The Telegraph about life on the set.

Photo Credit: HBO

“Normally you get the sides [the portion of the script that they’re currently shooting] at the beginning of the day,” she said, revealing that she’s not one of the few cast members who gets to read the full scripts. “But on Game of Thrones hardly anyone is allowed the pages and even then you have to sign an agreement before they give them to you and you have to hand them back at the end of the day.”

That’s Game of Thrones’ legendary secretiveness for you. The fewer people who know the spoilers, the fewer can reveal them.

The Telegraph also asked Kendrick the question every journalist asks every Game of Thrones cast member: Who do you want to end up on the Iron Throne? “For me, it’s always been about a reunion of the Stark children,” she said. “I think they’d be pretty great rulers. Well, maybe a bit questionable, but I think a coalition of power is the only way forward.” Amen.

Next: Easter eggs and callbacks in the second trailer for Game of Thrones season 7

Other points of interest:

  • Naturally, van Houten was asked who she wanted on the Iron Throne, too. “Samwell Tarly but there’s no chance in the world he’s going to make it up there. You just want good to conquer evil. Otherwise, Jon Snow wouldn’t be so bad.”
  • Van Houten has a couple of great lines about her dream project: A biopic about Greta Garbo. “It’s not a billion-dollar idea, it doesn’t take place in a spaceship and it doesn’t feature a foxy lady in a leather suit and a handsome guy with grey at his temples. But that doesn’t matter. It will come when the time is right.”
  • Van Houten also tells stories about times she got stoned in school and bought giant stuffed animals. So that’s worth a read.