What does Carice van Houten (Melisandre) think of how Game of Thrones ends?


Since Game of Thrones season 2, Dutch actress Carice van Houten has brought the mysterious Red Priestess Melisandre to life. In a wide-ranging interview with What’s On, Van Houten discussed everything from her favorite performer on the series to who she endorses for the Iron Throne.


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First up, Van Houten revealed what she loves, and hates, about her character:

"It’s a shame that we’ve seen so little of her sense of humour in the series, but I suppose there’s not that much to smile about in her life. In the end, she wants to save the world and that’s something I really admire, though her way of getting there isn’t very nice. She also has a sense of absolute confidence that I wish I had more often… Though I’m not sure we have much else in common, really."

In the long run, it’s probably a good thing that Van Houten has little in common with Melisandre. And speaking of characters with little sense of humor, Van Houten seemed to regret not being able to act alongside fellow co-star Lena Headey (Cersei). “It’s a really shame there aren’t any scenes between them, but the storylines just didn’t come together,” she said. “It was a missed opportunity I think – it would have been really interesting to see that they got on as women as opposed to just fighting, because they’re not that different, they’re both loners.”

Similar to Headey, Van Houten admitted to having a tough time letting go of her character after so many years:

"It was really hard. I cried a lot. I didn’t think I was going to – you know it’s going to come to an end and you prepare for that, but it’s still always a shock. The crew gave a big speech when we finished filming – I was surprised at how emotional I got. It’s not just a role, but seven years of your life that are coming to an end."

That seems to be a common sentiment from the cast and crew. But enough feelings, let’s talk about season 8. For example, can we tell anything about what’s coming based on Melisandre’s outfits?

"I think the costume department could answer that better (or is this a new sneaky way of trying to get spoilers out of me?)! It’s great that fans try to make connections even with the outfits – it sparks so much fantasy in people. But in all honesty, after seven years I was just like ‘can I wear another colour now?’ I wore red a lot."

Drat, almost had her.

Image: HBO
Image: HBO /

We’ve seen the Night King’s posse show up in a major way in the season 8 trailer. How would Van Houten herself fair in real life against the this guy? “I would not be fine, that’s for sure,” she said. “I would be shivering in the corner – I don’t have super powers I’m afraid, and I’m no hero. I would be terrified as hell. But Melisandre would definitely have something up her sleeve. She’d try to go back into her religion and strong belief system, and hope for the best.”

And then there’s the million-dollar question: what did Van Houten think of the ending of the show? She gave one of the more even-keeled answers we’ve heard thus far:

"It is what it is, and so that’s what it should be. There’s nothing to say about whether I’d change it if I were in charge. In an ideal world we would want Samwell Tarly to be the king and rule the world but unfortunately, that’s not the reality."

Later, What’s On asked her who she’d pick to sit the Iron Throne. “Samwell Tarly but zero chance there.” So I guess we can take that as confirmation that Sam does not, in fact, rule Westeros at the end of the show. There goes that dream.

Image: HBO
Image: HBO /

A few other tidbits:

  • Favorite filming location: “Northern Ireland. I absolutely loved the countryside – it’s always raining and miserable but that makes it beautiful and green. The people are lovely, too, with a great sense of humour and a cute accent.”
  • On who else she’d love to play on the show: “I always come back to one of my favourite characters, Samwell Tarly. He has comedy notes, he has a strong inner sense, he’s good-hearted. It’s fun to play the baddie, but also exciting to play a more flesh and blood character.”
  • Did Van Houten keep Melisandre’s necklace? “No! But I wouldn’t really want to – it’s not very comfortable. What it does is great, but I’d rather have a few more wrinkles and not an itchy neck.”
  • Which three characters would she keep alive: “Samwell Tarly, Brienne and Arya.”
  • Who was her favorite performer to work with? “Liam Cunningham. He’s a goofball and I have to tell him to shut up sometimes but he’s made being on set easier – the circumstances aren’t always glamorous, so his sense of humour was a godsend.”

Game of Thrones returns for its final season on April 14.

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