The sixth season of “Game of Thrones” started off with two shocking twists — both involving the Red Witch, Melisandre.
Though she’ll have to tweak her skills when it comes to seeing the future, Melisandre was key to the resolution of the biggest mystery since the end of the show’s fifth season last June: how Jon Snow will come back to life. (Because nobody actually believed the showrunners when they said he was dead, right?)
Melisandre’s magic may not have put Stannis Baratheon on the Iron Throne, but if it can raise the dead — and, in another shocking reveal, keep her alive well beyond a natural human lifespan — then maybe the Lord of Light she worships hasn’t forsaken her after all.
Known for violence on a personal and battlefield scale to move its plots along, the sixth season of “Game of Thrones” is being dominated by those who can wield magic. We asked Dutch actress Carice van Houten about what’s we can expect from Melisandre.
How did you approach the character this time around after everything that happened in Season 5?
We’ve left my character in a really bad state. We’ve never seen her so shaken, so out of control and even confused and vulnerable. In the very last scene [of the fifth season], where she’s confronted with devils asking: “What happened?” — she can’t even speak; she’s completely thrown.
For me, it was great as an actor to move away from this controlling, fanatic, strong character who never shows any emotion and is just very very focused. And all of a sudden, she’s like, “Oh, my God! What happened?” And I loved it; it’s my favorite season.
Melisandre horrified a lot of fans when she sacrificed Shireen, the daughter of Stannis Baratheon, last season. She’s been at the center of a lot of the worst events over the show’s history.
As an actress you go, “Wow! This is great, epic and nobody is going to forget this.” I mean, I had a few of those: the leeches on the penis and the giving birth to the shadow babies. But this really topped everything, of course. As an actor you think this is great, but as a person you think it’s the most horrible thing you have done. And it’s not going to get me any sympathy points.
The shooting itself was also quite harsh. It was extremely cold with strong wind and snow. And, of course, my character is never cold, which is also a challenge in itself. And then there’s Kerry [Ingram, who plays Shireen] — a sweet, bubbly, lovely girl, who is also a very good actor — making you believe she is really on fire. That doesn’t really make it easier. But we did have a lot of fun.
Have you been harassed by fans over your character’s actions?
Oh, yes, but it’s funny there are also people who like my character. I’m a bit suspicious of these people [Laughs]. But, you know, it’s nice for an actor. Obviously, people like to hate, or like the mystery Melisandre is surrounded with. And it’s difficult to like a character like this, in comparison to the Onion Knight.
Should we expect more nudity in Season Six?
This is my answer: Yes and no. And you will see why.