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How Game of Thrones changed after the #MeToo scandal, according to Carice van Houten

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How Game of Thrones changed after #MeToo scandal, according to Carice van Houten

The Melisandre actor has spoken about the impact the #MeToo movement had on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones may be over, but that doesn’t mean we’re finished talking about it. And now it’s the turn of Carice van Houten – aka Melisandre – to spark up conversation around the HBO fantasy show.

As GOT fans will no doubt be aware, the series – based on George R R Martin’s books of the same name –sparked controversy in the past over its portrayal of female characters; some felt that rape scenes were “gratuitous”. That the “mad hysterical woman” trope was overplayed. That most of Westeros’ women all seemed to find power through physical and emotional humiliation.

One thing mostly everyone seemed to agree on, though? That the show’s women were frequently objectified in nude scenes.

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Emilia Clarke, who played GOT’s Daenerys Targaryen, previously defended her character’s scenes in season six, which saw her emerge naked from a burning building (the idea being that the flames had burnt away her clothes but she remained unscathed, highlighting her destiny as the ‘Mother of Dragons’).

“I just wanted to come out and do an empowered scene that wasn’t sexual — it was naked, but it was strong,” she said.

“I get a lot of crap for having done nude scenes and sex scenes. That, in itself, is so anti-feminist.

“Women hating on other women is just the problem. That’s upsetting.”

Now Carice van Houten, who played Melisandre, has talked about the experience of filming nude scenes for both Game of Thrones and the 2006 movie Black Book.

“Yes and no,” she told Deadline, when asked if she ever felt uncomfortable about the nudity. “It wasn’t my favourite thing in the world at all. But yes, in Black Book, I experienced nudity on set. The Dutch are quite open-minded, we’re a bit easier with that, but it’s never comfortable being the only one undressed on set. It was before I had a child. I would be more uncomfortable now.”

She added: “The times have changed in many ways. Back then, it was all a little overwhelming. No one forced me into anything, but in hindsight, I might have been a little more cautious with it.”

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Van Houten went on to explain that the #MeToo movement had a huge impact on how much (or rather, how little) nudity there was in later seasons of Game of Thrones. Indeed, according to the actor, the show’s bosses decided to include less topless and full-frontal scenes in direct response to the “changing climate”.

“It showed that you don’t need it,” she added

Image: HBO

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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