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'Game of Thrones' Before They Were Stars
Note: This post contains a revelation from the end of the
The hugely anticipated return of the HBO drama concluded with a jaw-dropping revelation when Melisandre (Carice van Houten) finally removed her mysterious necklace. In the final moments of the hour, the sorceress disrobed and set aside the gold- and red-jeweled necklace she’s always worn on
until this point. Fans were then stunned to see the
Melisandre for the first time – very old, and possibly ancient.
There have been hints about Melisandre’s age before. Actress van Houten was once indirectly quoted back in season 2 as saying the character is 400 years old. In another interview, she noted the character is well over 100 years old. But showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss only told Houten for certain about her character’s age while shooting last season.
“I was really happy when I read that we were going to reveal that this year,” Houten told EW. “I don’t think a lot of people will see that coming. It makes her immediately more vulnerable, but also more wise and even more mysterious. There’s also a vulnerability in her age.”
Van Houten says the revelation helps put into context her character pushing to sacrifice Shrieen last season in order to potentially save Stannis and his army. The idea of killing one child is trivial to Melisandre because she’s lived long enough to see people of all ages perish in many wars. The Red Woman thinks in terms of what will save thousands, not one.
“That’s why she was able to say, ‘This is just a small war, it’s all relative compared to the big war were going to face,’” van Houten says. “[Her age] makes everything even more meta. Definitely, that’s where all that stuff comes from.”
The necklace twist, along with the disaster with Shireen last year, also suggests Melisandre’s powers might be far more limited than she’s led others to believe.
“She has no idea how she does it,” van Houten says of Melisandre’s magical abilities. “A magic necklace? Wow.”
Previously, van Houten told EW that her character would be going in a different direction in season 6. “It’s changing and I really like it. We see her from a really different side of her now. We see somebody whose whole belief system is tumbling down. She’s completely confused, and I really like to play that. After all the security and strength and pride, now we see something completely different. I’ve been really waiting for this moment.”
recap up on this page, and be sure to check out our season 6 post-episode podcast (new episode posted Monday). Soon we’ll post an interview with
premiere Jeremy Podeswa who will answer the question: “How old is Melisandre supposed to be in this scene?”
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