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'Game of Thrones'' Carice van Houten Talks About Playing That Scene, and What She Thinks About Sansa's Rape

By Cindy Davis | Game of Thrones | June 9, 2015 |






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Warning! Thar be ***Spoilers ahead for this past Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode, “The Dance of Dragons.”


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Of Game of Thrones’ least understandable characters — the one we’re perhaps completely unable to identify with in any way, shadowy shape or form — Melisandre has to be at the top of the list. Seemingly emotionless, and led only by her loyalty and devotion to the Lord of Light, the Red Priestess informed Stannis he needed a king’s blood sacrifice. After his initial quick refusal, and spurred by Ramsay Bolton’s surprise attack, the surviving Baratheon brother agreed to the unthinkable. As per usual, Melisandre seemingly felt nothing as she held the flaming torch, then lit the flames that would rise up and swallow poor Shireen. When a particularly horrible character exists, it can be difficult to separate actor from part, but as this interview reveals, Dutch actress Carice van Houten must steel herself to play a child murderer.

I’d wondered if perhaps Melisandre did see Ramsay’s attack coming, and let it happen as the necessary impetus to Shireen’s sacrifice. But van Houten believes otherwise, calling Melisandre’s visions, “blurry.”

“I think the event is pretty shocking to her, and she didn’t see it coming at all—that’s troubling to her, because she’s foreseen most things. But sometimes, I think her visions are a little blurry.”

She has proven that King’s Blood works. She is, first and foremost, a religious person—a priestess—and follows exactly what the Lord of Light wants her to do. She’s not just superhuman, but sees her missions in the flames and follows the visions. Melisandre is a total believer.”

Because of the vision Melisandre had after Blackwater, and after having convinced Stannis to bring Shireen to the Wall, van Houten believes the killing was narratively justified, perhaps plotted in advance.

“‘You [Stannis] will betray your family. You will betray everything you hold dear.’ She wanted to have the card up her sleeve.”


On how van Houten had to prepare herself for the actual burning:

“It’s a very weird scene to play. I had to close certain parts of my soul. It’s appalling. And the only way I tried to play it, which comes across as purely evil, is to be content with the fact that we were doing this because in Melisandre’s head, it’s the only way to save us all. She can’t show any emotion. She wants Stannis on the throne because she thinks he’s the rightful king she saw in the flames, so she sees the bigger picture—them or us. Melisandre thinks, ‘If we let the girl live, we’re going to die anyway, so we need to make this big sacrifice.’”

The “cute” gift 16-year-old Kerry Ingram gave her is…a little strange, no?

“We had a lot of fun in the tent before, and she is the sweetest girl. She gave me a little present—and she was dying! I felt bad and thought I should have brought her something. She got me an eternal flame, one of those candles with a fake flame on it. Really cute.”

Now there’s an interesting sense of humor.


Van Houten also shared her thoughts on the controversial Sansa Stark rape, agreeing with George R. R. Martin’s (also controversial) statements about his imaginary period piece.

“It’s tricky. I tend to think we’re doing the right thing because we have a lot of strong female characters, and it’s true what George R.R. Martin says—it’s a mirror of what happens in reality. It’s confrontational. If you made a truly historical series, you’d see even worse things—especially with women. That being said, I can imagine people find a lot of it hard to watch.”


We’ve already been around the block several times about Sansa’s rape, and whatever your thoughts about how Game of Thrones deals with rape in general, you’re not likely to change your opinion. Suffice to say there are those of us who think there’s been enough depiction on the series that we could easily finish out the entire thing without seeing even one more, and still walk away knowing Hey, there was is a lot of rape back in the day no matter what the time frame.


(via/read more at The Daily Beast)


Cindy Davis, (Twitter)


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