Warning: Major, major spoilers are ahead for Game of Thrones.
Few could have predicted that in “The Long Night," last night's episode of Game of Thrones, Melisandre, aka "The Red Woman," would not only become a central figure in the episode, but be a big part of the reason for humanity's survival against the Night King and his army of the dead.
According to the actress who plays her, however, Carice van Houten, she feels that while she's happy that Melisandre was got some redemption before she died at the end of the episode, she would have liked to have her character a bit more humanised during the course of the show.
"I would have liked to know a bit more about her past," van Houten told EW. "Because she was a slave. It would have been a nice moment to show she is human and connect her to to others. As an actor it’s more interesting to play doubts and secrets. And it’s nice to tap from your own shit. I wish we knew a bit more about her shit."
In the episode, at a crucial moment, Melisandre reminds Arya Stark that she’s destined to kill people with “blue eyes,” meaning the White Walkers. And after Arya heroically springs into action and kills the Night King, Melisandre walks off, takes off the magical choker that has kept her young and turns to dust, signifying that she had fulfilled her life's purpose.
But it's true that while we may feel a little better about her in the end (beyond sacrificing a little girl in vain for The Lord of Light — sorry, that's unforgivable), but we only really know her throughout the series as a mysterious, cold figure and know less about her background. According to the Game of Thrones books, particularly A Dance with Dragons, Melisandre was a slave (possibly named Melony) in the city of Asshai in the Further East of Essos who was sold to a red temple when she was young. She grew up to be a red priestess of R'hllor (the Lord of Light) and a shadowbinder, whose life's purpose was to find a prophesied prince, Azor Ahai, who will lead the war and vanquish R'hllor's enemy, called the Great Other.
Along with getting to see more of Melisandre's facets, van Houten shared that she would've liked to see a face-off between her character and Westeros' other wicked witch.
"I would have loved to have more interaction with other actors," she said. "She and Cersei would be a good combination."
But for the show's highly anticipated spin-off prequel series, van Houten said that would possibly be an opportunity to explore Melisandre's youth, though she isn't holding her breath.
"Story-wise, there’s loads to tell [in a potential spin-off]," said van Houten. "You can get so much more out of this world. But it’s also [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] and a combination of a lot of factors when something works. I don’t want to be cynical, but I believe in the right moment. Maybe they can CGI me into a young girl. At the same time, all good things come to an end. [Tormund Giantsbane actor Kristofer Hivju] says you’re actually another person now than when you started."
Game Of Thrones season 8 is available in the UK on Mondays on Sky Atlantic and Now TV