Game of Thrones is packed with fascinating characters, but how many of them can say they squeezed a shadow assassin baby out of their nether regions as part of some dark magic? Just one, the bewitching Red Priestess known as Melisandre. I summoned the Lord of Light to get actress Carice van Houten on the phone for a quick chat about Season 4, and we discussed Melisandre's relationship with Stannis, what it's like to play "evil," and why more people aren't following her beloved Lord of Light.
How much of Melisandre will we see this season?
I would say it's a light season for the Baratheons, for the Dragonstone household. But there will be a few good, long meaty scenes. And for Melisandre, it's nice that we will see her have more scenes with women, she'll have an interaction with Stannis's daughter and Stannis's wife. I really like that, it's different.
Last season we saw Melisandre go off on her own a bit. Is she tied to Stannis this season? Will we be seeing less of Stannis?
I think so. That whole storyline with Davos and Stannis is quite light this year.
Boo! Well, last year Melisandre and Stannis were discussing a trip up to the Wall, as seen in the flames by the Lord of Light. Will they be taking that trip?
Well, you see them start that. I can't really say.
How do you think Melisandre will do in the cold?
Well she has magical powers, so she'll make sure she's warm. Myself, I am going to be freezing.
I don't know if this is fair to say, but Melisandre is perceived as an evil character. How do you see Melisandre?
I wouldn't say her methods are, per se, very nice. But I still would like to believe that she's doing it for a greater good, at least that's what she makes us think. And that's the only way I can play it, because if you just play evil then you'll just play Wicked Stepmother, with an evil eye. What's interesting is to play someone who does evil things, but while thinking or believing that they're good things. I think that's why evil people, or as we call them evil, are actually evil. Because they justify their deeds, that's why they believe in it. That's why it gets scary. I don't think people that we consider evil think that they're doing evil things, that's the scary part.
She's doing these things as part of her religion, because she follows the Lord of Light. And in Westeros, there are all these other religions—the seven gods, the one true god—but you don't see a lot of proof of them existing. However, the Lord of Light seems pretty real to me! So I'm sitting here wondering why more people don't follow the Lord of Light.
I know! I'm trying! [laughs] I'm doing all I can, thank you! Like all new things, it may take a little time. It's a long religion they've been following, the seven gods. It's hard to move on.
Well if I saw even one shadow baby, I'd be convinced.
Yeah exactly. [laughs]
The relationship between Stannis and Melisandre seems pretty one-sided. She's gotten Stannis to fall in love with her. But does Melisandre have any romantic feelings for Stannis?
I don't think it's romantic, I think it's more practical. I think she adores him in a sense that she's convinced he's the chosen one. It's more admiring, it's not so much a sexual thing.
Do you think Melisandre has any selfish goals in helping Stannis become the king? Or is she just serving the Lord of Light?
I can't really say. I can't say much about that.
Where would you like to see Melisandre end up when the series is done?
Somewhere warm. [laughs]
Would you like to see her victorious, or punished for her actions?
I don't know, as long as it's spectacular!
Which country do you think has the best Game of Thrones fans?
I haven't been traveling that much, to be honest, so I don't know. But if I check my Twitter account, there are a lot of Spanish fans, but also in Malaysian and the Philippines, I get a lot of tweets from the Philippines. But I haven't been to Comic-Con, and I think that's where the real fans are.
Game of Thrones returns for Season 4 this Sunday, April 6 at 9pm on HBO.