Michiel Huis­man: ‘Nu­dity? Some­one’s gotta do it!’

Best known for re­bal­anc­ing the naked gen­der di­vide in Game Of Thrones, Michiel Huis­man is now headed for the post-war Chan­nel Is­lands in a cin­e­matic love story

Grazia (UK) - - Contents - words Emily phillips

chances are, you’ve prob­a­bly seen a lot of Michiel Huis­man. Hav­ing been a child ac­tor in his na­tive Nether­lands, he hit our screens via big Net­flix pro­duce ( Or­phan Black), HBO fare ( Treme), quirky cinema ( The Age Of Ada­line) and even as pro­tag­o­nist of a Chanel No 5 advert di­rected by Baz Luhrmann (star­ring Gisele Bünd­chen). But it was his role as Daen­erys Tar­garyen’s war­rior suitor, Daario Na­haris, in Game Of Thrones – and his head­line-grab­bing nude scenes – that pro­pelled him fully into the pub­lic con­scious­ness. This year alone he has six pro­jects hit­ting our screens.

Speak­ing from At­lanta, where he’s film­ing a new show, The Haunt­ing Of Hill House, for Net­flix, Michiel ( pro­nounced ‘Me­keel’) is keen to move on from fronting up to full-frontal con­tro­versy. ‘Some­one’s gotta do it. I think it’s much more preva­lent in Euro­pean cinema – def­i­nitely in Dutch cinema.’ But we sug­gest his tak­ing the heat off Emilia Clarke’s fre­quent bum shots might be tan­ta­mount to a wor­thy con­tri­bu­tion to Hol­ly­wood’s fem­i­nist lev­el­ling. ‘At the end of the day, it’s just my job,’ he laughs. ‘But I’m now just gonna shut up, be­cause oth­er­wise peo­ple are gonna be like, “Hey, so what else did he do?”’

De­spite his grow­ing pro­file, the re­al­i­sa­tion that act­ing is ‘just my job’ is some­thing borne out of hav­ing a daugh­ter (Hazel, 10) with fel­low Dutch ac­tor Tara Elders, 38. ‘Be­fore Tara and I had a child, I don’t think I had such a sense of pur­pose or di­rec­tion. And all of a sud­den, I un­der­stood that I was an ac­tor not only be­cause I love mak­ing movies, but also be­cause it’s how I can pro­vide for my fam­ily. I like that ground­ing.’ Fa­ther­hood seems as if it is some­thing that comes nat­u­rally to the 36-year-old. It also forms a large part of his role in new heart­warm­ing ro­man­tic drama The Guernsey Lit­er­ary And Potato Peel Pie So­ci­ety, di­rected by Four Wed­dings And A Fu­neral’s Mike Newell. He stars op­po­site Lily James’s Juliet, an au­thor vis­it­ing the is­land post-wwii to meet a book club started dur­ing the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion. Michiel plays Dawsey, a man rais­ing a young girl fol­low­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of her mother af­ter she spoke out against the regime. ‘I had a lot of scenes with this won­der­ful lit­tle girl and I wouldn’t even know if I would be able to do that if I didn’t have that ex­pe­ri­ence as a fa­ther,’ he says.

Dawsey is one of three men in Juliet’s life and yet Michiel’s main chal­lenge was not se­duc­tion, or even mas­ter­ing an au­then­tic Guernsey twang, but cor­ralling pigs as a farmer. ‘It took months and months of re­hears­ing!’ he jokes. ‘Dawsey has a spe­cial con­nec­tion with an­i­mals. So, we were shoot­ing it in a very in­ti­mate way, cam­era re­ally close, and it was just the pig, the cam­era, and my­self. Mike was say­ing, “Get closer, I’m not get­ting it,” and I was like, “My god, do you see how big this an­i­mal is?”’

Dawsey is a man who’s at­tracted to strong, de­fi­ant women – some­thing that seems to be a theme across Michiel’s work. He’s played the sen­si­tive phi­lan­thropist love in­ter­est to Blake Lively’s age­less heroine in The Age Of Ada­line, the brood­ing mu­sic pro­ducer to feisty coun­try star Rayna James in Nashville and the Mother of Dragons’ per­sonal swords­man – all roles high­light­ing the in­tri­ca­cies and frail­ties of mas­cu­line emo­tion. The parts he chooses seem suited to these #Metoo times, in which women are unit­ing to con­demn toxic mas­culin­ity. ‘I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate you say­ing that, and I’m go­ing to take that com­pli­ment,’ he says. ‘It’s not some­thing I’m do­ing con­sciously. But in light of ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pen­ing now, I think [these char­ac­ters are] great. And I’m so happy that in some way I’m part of that.’

And he is an en­gaged cam­paigner – tak­ing to the streets for the Women’s March and reg­u­larly post­ing fem­i­nist slo­gans on his In­sta­gram. ‘I’m just try­ing to show re­spect for women. All I can do is show my sup­port. I live with two strong women – my wife and my daugh­ter.’ And it’s a time for change – es­pe­cially as a Euro­pean liv­ing in Amer­ica. ‘ There’s a lot hap­pen­ing in the world right now and it’s time to speak out.’

And one thing he’s a keen to speak out on is his am­bas­sador­ship for Save the Chil­dren, es­pe­cially their work with the Syr­ian and Ugan­dan refugee crises. ‘Both are places I have vis­ited, and met peo­ple in pro­grams run by Save the Chil­dren. So, when­ever I can, I try to use the plat­form so­cial me­dia gives me to sup­port that.’

But his main so­cial me­dia out­put is as a pas­sion­ate pho­tog­ra­pher. With an In­sta­gram feed awash with gor­geously shot, of­ten black-and-white stills, he shoots on ana­logue cam­eras and de­vel­ops the pho­tos him­self. ‘ When I use a dig­i­tal cam­era, I have less fun – I check the screen and it takes away that ex­cite­ment of see­ing it two weeks af­ter you’ve for­got­ten what you’ve shot.’

We no­tice that Michiel’s im­ages ap­pear on the IMDB page for an­other up­com­ing film, The Red Sea Div­ing Re­sort. Has he turned his hand to play­ing on-set pho­tog­ra­pher, as well as lead? ‘I want to find a bal­ance be­tween shar­ing stuff and pro­tect­ing my pri­vacy and my fam­ily. So, shar­ing my work seems like the log­i­cal thing to do. But I need to make sure I don’t share too soon. When you’re say­ing, “Your pictures are the only ones from Div­ing Re­sort on­line,” I’m think­ing, “Oops!”’ Some­how, though, we think the pro­duc­ers might find it in their heart to for­give him. Those shots are ex­cel­lent. And he is one of the good guys.

Cam­paigner, avid am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher, hot war­rior (right), and Guernsey farmer (far right): Michiel Huis­man

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