(NEW YORK) — Caution: spoilers ahead! People are still talking about that stunning reveal on the season-six premiere of Game of Thrones Sunday night, during which the Red Woman, Melisandre, played by Carice van Houten, was revealed to be really, really old, though her magical necklace apparently keeps her young and beautiful.
Van Houten tells Entertainment Weekly she believes a lot of fans were probably shocked. “I don’t think a lot of people will see that coming,” she said. “It makes [Melisandre] immediately more vulnerable, but also more wise and even more mysterious.”
Though the night is still dark and full of terrors, van Houten said the age reveal will also humanize Melisandre — something she’s desperately in need of, given that she has, among other things, compelled the character Stannis Baratheon to burn his own daughter alive last season. The idea is that the Red Woman has seen a lot — perhaps over centuries — so one child’s death isn’t the end of the world to her.
“[Her age] makes everything even more meta. Definitely, that’s where all that stuff comes from,” says van Houten. She also says her character’s powers might be more limited than she’s let on.
“She has no idea how she does it. A magic necklace? Wow,” van Houten said.
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