Skip to main content

“Why Did That Scene Have to Be Nude?” Carice van Houten/Melisandre Reflects on Game of Thrones’ Sexposition


Melisandre/Carice van Houten and Andrew McClay in Game of Thrones (2011)

Carice van Houten, the Red Witch Melisandre in HBO’s Game of Thrones, was the subject of quite a few unnecessary nude scenes that made us all wonder “just why?” In doing promotion for her new project, Instinct, she was asked about the HBO show and shared her thoughts on those nude scenes.

“When the Me Too movement started, that’s when it started sinking in for me,” Van Houten explained to Insider. “And it did sort of change my perspective on my whole career, not just Game of Thrones.”

She continued: “In retrospect, I thought, ‘Why did that scene have to be nude? Why was that normal?’ I did question things and it was not so much that I was blaming anyone, but that’s just how we evolved, and just how the movement affected me.”

There has always been a conversation about nudity in Game of Thrones and what, exactly, its place in the series is. I think that there will always be a place for tasteful nudity and even a bit of voyeurism onscreen, but it needs to be shared around. If you look back at True Blood, one of the things about that show was that it always had equal opportunity fanservice. Almost everyone got to be naked at some point, and it was never trying to hide the gratuitous nature of it all.

While I will agree that we, as a society, do have weird hangups about sex and showing butts, there is something different between equal opportunity nudity and seeing mostly cis women constantly in a state of sexual vulnerability around fully dressed men—especially when there is no plot-related reason for said nudity.

Hell, one scene, where Melisandre is nude without her necklace on, is a plot hole, as HuffPo points out, because her necklace is what keeps her young. But, you know, who cares about the fantasy elements in a fantasy series when you want an exposed clavicle?

According to the interview, Van Houten does makes it clear that she doesn’t think art should erase nudity or explicit sexual scenes, but she does now insist that any nudity must have a narrative function—not simply to make certain audiences happy because they have come to expect a level of nudity from the show.

I think that is a fair assessment, but I also wish that interviewers would ask these questions of the male actors who have had to work alongside these women. We know from Emilia Clarke’s previous interviews that Jason Momoa was an advocate for her on set to make sure she was as comfortable as she could be, but it would be nice to have some of the male Game of Thrones alumni asked how they think their female costars felt.

Actresses are already put in a position to feel anxious about complaining about nudity, so their male counterparts should also work to be more aware of who is often nude on set, and who is not.

(via HuffPo, image: HBO/HELEN SLOAN)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.