Here’s How ‘Game of Thrones’ S6 Pulled Off That Shocking Melisandre Twist
Game of Thrones fans have entered an entirely new realm of spoilers, now that George R.R. Martin’s books aren’t necessarily leading the way, but Sunday’s Season 6 premiere “The Red Woman” dropped one wrinkly whopper about its titular priestess. Now, director Jeremy Podeswa shares how they pulled off that shocking effect, and what it might mean going forward.
You’re warned of full Game of Thrones spoilers through last night’s Season 6 premiere, but suffice to say, there might be a reason Carice van Houten’s Melisandre seems to show off her body at the drop of a hat, in that the woman we’ve seen is but a mere glamour, an illusion concealing the real Melisandre’s significantly-aged appearance.
For those wondering about the effect itself, “Red Woman” director Podeswa revealed to Entertainment Weekly that the figure was indeed Carice van Houten under heavy makeup and prosthetic, though the body itself borrowed a bit of CG from Lena Headey’s “Penance Walk,” casting an older actress to fill the role. Podeswa stayed cagey about Melisandre’s actual age, but noted it might be close to 400:
The idea is there’s an indefinite indeterminate quality that she could be ancient. We were limited by choosing to use a real person rather than a complete CG creation. Because what does a 400-year-old person look like? We don’t know. So if you try to create that, then you’re creating something that looks beyond our known reality. Here you feel like she’s very old without putting a number on it.
I think the performance of both actresses helps making her look ageless. There was a question of whether we should add more effects to make [the body double] look older, but I think anything we could have done would have made them look less real. When doing a fantasy show – or a show with fantasy elements – the more you can anchor an effect to reality the stronger the illusion is.
There remains the question of what bearing Melisandre’s older form will have on the character going forward, as fans have long-suspected her magic will play a part in resurrecting a certain Snow-y corpse, while additional Season 6 photos have kept Carice van Houten in her youthful visage.
It’s likely we’ll learn more by next week’s “Home,” so check out the trailer below, and stay tuned to learn how “The Red Woman” plays into Game of Thrones Season 5.