And the actor isn’t entirely averse to the idea.
Carice van Houten played the sorceress Melisandre across seven seasons of the HBO hit. Her mysterious and often sinister character was hundreds of years old. Which means Melisandre could have been around during the time of House of the Dragon, which is set in Westeros roughly 300 years before the events in GoT.
So EW asked van Houten whether she’d be down to play The Red Woman again should the prequel’s producers someday come calling.
“Well, it would really depend on the storyline,” says Van Houten, who was nominated for an Emmy for her GoT performance in the show’s final season. “I would be interested if we could see a completely different side to her. It would have to be interesting perspective that we haven’t seen before. Otherwise, I feel like I’ve closed it off in a natural way — which is also a good thing.”
Perhaps, we suggested, with a new costume — as van Houten was famously stuck in the same blood-red dress year after year, all while enduring bitterly cold Northern Ireland winters during the show’s filming. “Yes, maybe she had a blue period,” she says.
House of the Dragon‘s co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik actually directed van Houten’s final episode in season 8, when Melisandre returned to aid in the climactic battle against the Army of the Dead at Winterfell.
Van Houten half-joked the production might need to de-age her Asshai priestess with CG for consistency as she first joined the GoT family nearly a decade ago. But here’s our idea: The origins of Melisandre are almost completely unknown (in George R.R. Martin‘s books, she’s described as a former child slave sold to the Red Temple an unknown number of years ago who then trained in the priesthood). So why not explore her backstory? Van Houten could play the character as a human before she got her powers (and, along with it, a necklace that grants her ageless beauty).
Of course, given that House of the Dragon is focused on the Targaryen family’s rule and eventual civil war, there’s no obvious story initial entry point for Melisandre, but who knows what the future holds. Another character who was still around at the time of House of the Dragon was the Night King, but he wasn’t stirring up trouble during the period of this prequel (he would have been, however, during the other prequel concept set thousands of years before GoT that was shot as a pilot and scrapped earlier this year).
Van Houten currently stars in a buzzy potential Oscar contender for best foreign film: Instinct, a Netherlands film where van Houten stars as a psychotherapist who starts a new job at a penal institution and gets into a complicated relationship with one of her patients (Marwan Kenzari), a serial sex offender who is on the verge of completing his rehabilitative treatment. The film has drawn praise for providing a “much-needed exploration of the grey areas in wider discourses around power dynamics and sexual desire.”