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Carice van Houten

Carice van Houten

Carice Anouk van Houten (Dutch pronunciation: [kaːˈris aːˈnuk fɑn ˈɦʌutə(n)];[1] born 5 September 1976) is a Dutch actress and singer. Her first leading role in the television film Suzy Q (1999) won her the Golden Calf for Best Acting in a Television Drama; two years later, she won the Golden Calf for Best Actress for Undercover Kitty (2001).

She gained widespread recognition for her performance in Black Book (2006), the most commercially successful Dutch film to date, for which she won her second Golden Calf for Best Actress, in addition to nominations from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the European Film Academy, and the Online Film Critics Society. She was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for Valkyrie (2008), and won her fourth and fifth Golden Calf Awards for Best Actress for The Happy Housewife (2010) and Black Butterflies (2011). Her other notable English-language performances include Repo Men (2010), Black Death (2010), and Brimstone (2016).

Van Houten received international recognition for her recurring role as Melisandre on the HBO television series Game of Thrones (2012–2019), for which she received nominations for two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.[2][3][4]

Carice van Houten
Carice Anouk van Houten

(1976-09-05)5 September 1976
Leiderdorp, Netherlands
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1997–present
Partner(s)Guy Pearce (2015–present)
Parent(s)Theodore van Houten
Margje Stasse
RelativesJelka van Houten (sister)
Websitecaricevanhouten.com [38]

Early life

Van Houten was born on 5 September 1976 in Leiderdorp, Netherlands. Her mother, Margje Stasse, is on the board of Dutch educational TV, and her father, Theodore van Houten (1952–2016), was a writer and broadcaster. She was brought up watching silent films and in an interview she professed to prefer playing scenes without dialogue.[5] She has a younger sister, Jelka van Houten, who is also an actress. Her paternal grandmother was Scottish.[6] Van Houten went to the St. Bonifatiuscollege (high school) in Utrecht, where she played the leading role in Hugo Claus' Tijl Uilenspieghel, directed by Ad Migchielsen. Van Houten studied briefly at the Maastricht Academy of Dramatic Arts but continued her professional education after one year at the Kleinkunstacademie in Amsterdam.[7]

Acting career

Van Houten attending the Game of Thrones panel at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.

Van Houten attending the Game of Thrones panel at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.

Van Houten played her first leading role in Martin Koolhoven's TV film Suzy Q. She won a Golden Calf for her part as Suzy. She also won the Pisuisse Award and the Top Naeff Award for her stage acting and another Golden Calf for her part as the kitten that becomes a woman in Undercover Kitty (2001). The first time she could be seen in cinemas in the U.S. was when Martin Koolhoven's AmnesiA (2001) got a small theatrical release. Van Houten won a Golden Calf for her performance as Rachel Stein in Black Book (2006)[8] at the Netherlands Film Festival. Black Book's director Paul Verhoeven said about her in a television interview: "Never in my life I have worked with an actress this talented", and when asked to compare her with Sharon Stone he said "Carice can really act."[9] The international press was also enthusiastic about her role in Black Book.[10]

In December 2006, Van Houten withdrew from a theatre production of Alex van Warmerdam due to personal reasons. According to a theatre spokesman it was because of a work overload.[11]

In 2008, she starred in the non-commercial short movie Zingen in het donker (English: Singing in the dark), a drama on domestic violence. She appeared in the magazine Vanity Fair in the issue for March 2008, photographed by Wayne Maser.[12] In 2008, Van Houten had a role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies but her scenes did not make the final cut of the movie.[13]

In April 2009, it was announced that Van Houten would star in Black Death by British director Christopher Smith and in the Dutch film Komt een vrouw bij de dokter (English title: Stricken), based on the novel of the same name by Ray Kluun. She also starred in the science fiction thriller Repo Men.[14]

In July 2011, Van Houten was cast as the priestess Melisandre in the second season of HBO's fantasy TV series Game of Thrones.[15] Her performance has garnered her praise and recognition, earning her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her final performance as the character in the season 8 episode "The Long Night" in 2019. After nominations were announced for the ceremony, Van Houten received considerable media attention for having been one of the three nominated actors from the show to have self-submitted and paid entry fees to be on the ballot for Emmy consideration after HBO had not done so for them.[16][17] She has also received three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2014, 2016, and 2017 for the role.

In 2012, Van Houten appeared in Antony and the Johnsons' "Cut the world" video, which was directed by Nabil Elderkin[18] and also starred Willem Dafoe and Marina Abramović.[19]

In 2019, Van Houten starred as a prison therapist that becomes infatuated with one of her patients, a serial rapist, in Halina Reijn’s directorial debut Instinct. The film premiered at the Locarno Film Festival, receiving the Variety Piazza Grande Award and was selected as the Dutch submission for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.[20] Variety’s Guy Lodge described Van Houten as being "on electrifying form" and Reijn’s direction "provides a fearsome reminder" of the former’s breakthrough performance in Black Book.[21]

Personal life

Van Houten is in a relationship with Australian actor Guy Pearce.[22] On 29 August 2016, she gave birth to their son, Monte Pearce.[23]

She previously dated German actor Sebastian Koch, whom she met on the set of Blackbook.[24]

Van Houten has stated that Hollywood makes her unhappy: "I have seen Hollywood, and although I have nothing against it, it's not my kind of life. My agent is shocked that I want to stay in Europe," adding, "If Hollywood offers me a great part, of course I'll take it, but I just don't want to live there".[25]

Van Houten is friends with fellow Dutch actress Halina Reijn, whom she has known since 1994.[26] They worked together in the movies Black Book and Valkyrie. In 2013, the two published a book together called Anti Glamour, a parody style guide and a celebration of their friendship,[27] as well as a candid look into the unglamourous back-stage side of their lives.[28] Although the two occasionally kiss on camera,[29] and have joked about being lesbians, there is no actual romantic involvement.[26]

She is a lifelong fan of Laurel and Hardy and in June 2016 she called in to The Ross Owen Show on Black Sky Radio to talk about her love of the comedy duo.[30]


19973 rondenEmily
1998Ivory Guardiansunknown
1999Suzy QSuzy
2001Storm in mijn hoofdPeaseblossom / Titania
Undercover KittyMinoes
2002The Wild BoarPandora
2003Father's AffairMonika
2005Black SwansMarleen
LepelMiss Broer
2006A Thousand KissesSamarinde
Black BookRachel Stein / Ellis de Vries
2007Love is AllKiki Jollema
2008Dorothy MillsJane van Dopp
ValkyrieNina Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg
From Time to TimeMaria Oldknow
2010Repo MenCarol[31]
The Happy HousewifeLea
Black DeathLangiva
Black ButterfliesIngrid Jonker
Family WayWinnie de Roover
2013The Fifth EstateBirgitta Jónsdóttir
2016RaceLeni Riefenstahl
IncarnateLindsay Sparrow
2019The Glass RoomHana
TBALost Girls and Love HotelsInesPost-production


1997Het LabyrintMariekTelevision series
1999Suzy QSuzyTelevision film
2000Goede daden bij daglicht: Op wegCarolaTelevision film
2001De acteursEllieTelevision series
2002Luifel & LuifelRoosEpisode: "De Krottenkoning"
2004RussenJosé MachielsenEpisode: "De zevende getuige"
KopspijkersGeorgina VerbaanEpisode: "Dance-4-Life"
2006KoppensnellersEpisode: "1.16"
2009Gewoon HansHerselfTelevision film
2010In therapieAya3 episodes
2011Human PlanetNarratorDutch dubbing
2012–2019Game of ThronesMelisandre of Asshai29 episodes
2015The SimpsonsAnnika van Houten (voice)Episode: "Let's Go Fly a Coot"
2016Robot ChickenMelisandre, Sharon, Mama Bear (voices)Episode: "Triple Hot Dog Sandwich on Wheat"


  • Black Book (soundtrack) (2007) – vocals in four songs

  • See You on the Ice (2012)[32]

  • "Fear Not" (2015) – featuring Michael Prins

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryNominated workResult
1999Golden Calf AwardBest Acting in a Television Drama
Suzy Q
2002Golden Calf AwardBest Actress
Undercover Kitty
International Children's Film FestivalBest ActressWon
Carrousel international du film de RimouskiWon
2005Golden Calf AwardBest Actress
Black Swans
2006Golden Calf AwardBest Actress
Black Book
Rembrandt AwardBest ActressWon
Chicago Film Critics Association AwardBest ActressNominated
European Film AwardBest ActressNominated
German Film AwardBest ActressNominated
Online Film Critics Society AwardBest Breakthrough PerformanceNominated
Saturn AwardBest ActressNominated
2008Rembrandt AwardBest Actress
Love is All
Saturn AwardBest Supporting Actress
2010Rembrandt AwardBest Actress
Golden Film AwardBest ActressWon
Fangoria Chainsaw AwardBest Supporting Actress
Black Death
2011Rembrandt AwardBest Actress
The Happy Housewife
Golden Film AwardBest ActressWon
Golden Calf AwardBest ActressWon
2012Rembrandt AwardBest Actress
Black Butterflies
Golden Film AwardBest ActressWon
Golden Calf AwardBest ActressWon
Tribeca Film FestivalBest Actress in a Narrative Feature FilmWon
Golden Film AwardBest Actress
Rembrandt AwardBest ActressNominated
2013Rembrandt AwardBest Actress
Family Way
Screen Actors Guild AwardOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series[33]Nominated
2017Golden Calf AwardBest Supporting Actress
2019Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesNominated


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Citation Linkwww.cinema.nl"Zwartboek beste film aller tijden – Cinema.nl Nieuws" (in Dutch). Cinema.nl. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
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