Back in the Game

Motherhood had an un­ex­pected im­pact on Carice van Houten when she re­turned for sea­son seven of Game­ofThrones. By LEXIE CARTWRIGHT

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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