Back in the Game
Motherhood had an unexpected impact on Carice van Houten when she returned for season seven of GameofThrones. By LEXIE CARTWRIGHT
GAME of Thrones might be the biggest TV series on the planet, but Dutch actor Carice van Houten almost considered throwing in the towel for the latest season.
The partner of Australian actor Guy Pearce – who plays sex siren Melisandre in the wildly successful fantasy drama – admits the birth of the couple’s first child, Monte, in August tested her devotion to the series.
The 40-year-old, who returned to work only a matter of weeks after giving birth, tells TV Guide she “broke apart”.
“It was a little too early,” van Houten says. “He was at home and I remember one scene I did, I was in the green room and I was alone and I just broke apart.
“Someone came in and asked if I was OK and I just said, ‘I just want to go home to my baby’.
“It all became unimportant to me. It’s a great, important show, but once you’ve just had a baby nothing else really matters.”
Pearce, who began his career on Neighbours, met van Houten while filming the 2015 movie Brimstone (which also starred GoT actor Kit Harrington, aka Jon Snow).
The pair are known to be extremely private about their relationship and son.
But in a rare moment of candour, van Houten – who has played The Red Priestess since 2012 – let down her guard, revealing how motherhood has changed what she can stomach watching and filming.
She refers specifically to her character killing young Princess Shireen in the sixth series, and admits she couldn’t have done it after becoming a mum.
“I remember reading it and I thought this was the worst scene I ever shot,” she said.
“But I couldn’t really feel what it meant, I just knew it was horrible. And now I can’t watch anything on TV with children or animals or anything – you’re just an open wound once you become a parent.”
Spoilers surrounding possible plot lines of season seven have been circling since producers dropped the trailer in May, but van Houten was careful not to give away any hints.
Judging by Melisandre’s brief stint in the teaser clip, it appears she is set to make her way to Dragonstone, with hardcore fans speculating she could have dealings with Iron Throne contender Daenerys Taragaryen (Emilia Clarke).
However, van Houten teased that viewers would witness a far more vulnerable side to her character, which we came to see a glimpse of towards the end of last season after she was banished from the North for burning Shireen at the stake.
“It was very hard to defend [Melisandre] for a long time, I was struggling hard,” she says. “I was always saying, ‘She’s doing it for the greater good’. I always tried not to play her as a villain but someone who thought she was doing the right thing.
“But I was very happy when there was that moment when she actually confesses she was wrong and that made her human for me.
“As an actor, that was the nicest thing to play, to finally let that bubble break a little bit. To show some sort of vulnerability.”
Seeing red: Carice van Houten returns as Red Priestess Melisandre in season seven of GameofThrones.