Actress Carice Van Houten stopped by The Wall Street Journal studio to talk about playing two strong women whom audiences love to hate. In the new Focus Features film “Race,” about track star Jesse Owens‘ historic wins in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, she plays Adolf Hitler‘s favorite filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl. She says in this film the focus is on Riefenstahl’s artistic accomplishments, rather than her Nazi connection.
“What do you do as a woman, in 1936,” Van Houten says, “when you are given that sort of opportunity, but for that guy (Hitler)? There is a lot of grey area there.”
The Dutch actress is also well-known to legions of “Game of Thrones” fans as the manipulative Melisandre, the Red Witch. Van Houten’s fans are very vocal, and after last season, when Stannis Baratheon’s daughter burned at the stake under Melisandre’s direction, she says waves of pointed hate messages were flung at her on social media. And while the few death threats she received went too far, she says in general, she doesn’t mind the outpouring.
“It sort of cool to be hated that much,” she says with a laugh, “because in my own country (the Netherlands), I do very light roles. I’m known for much lighter stuff.”
When asked to confirm or deny the rumor that Melisandre brings Jon Snow back to life in Season 6 of the HBO series (which premieres April 24), she denies it. But Van Houten does promise Melisandre plays a pivotal role, and goes through a sort of “transformation.”