“Hey are you that guy from TV? I don’t really watch TV, but my mum says she recognizes you.” That is how Dutch actor Michiel Huisman recounts his experiences with being recognized on the streets of his home country. The Dutch are a low-key people; much like Huisman himself, who has retained that laid-back cool despite his fast-growing fame.
The handsome, charismatic actor has been a regular on the small screen for the past few years, appearing in highly acclaimed shows such as HBO’s Treme, BBC America’s Orphan Black and ABC’s Nashville. Despite notable performances in each show, it wasn’t until his appearance as a re-cast Daario Naharis on the HBO global mega-hit Game of Thrones that brought the actor to the attention of a wider audience. After his casting was announced, the internet buzzed with speculation about who he could be playing and it was with some degree of surprise when fans found that he would be filling Ed Skrein’s recently vacated shoes as Daenerys Targaryan’s Tyroshi sell-sword lover.
“Daario is an extremely confident man,” Huisman explains, “and he’s a man who is very aware of his strength. I felt that I needed to find something in myself that was also so confident.” A photo of Huisman with his trainer at the gym leaked ahead of his appearance on the show, sparking more interest in his character: “Yeah, it’s a miracle that not more pictures were leaked, because let’s just say I worked out a lot preparing for that role!”
Despite being a newcomer to the series, Huisman got what were arguably two of the most memorable scenes in the season; one in which he takes out the Champion of Meereen with barely a second glance, and that highly anticipated scene where his queen orders him to strip for her. The latter sparked plenty of discussion amongst show devotees, many of who lamented that the sequence could have been…well… expanded upon. “It was a lot of fun for me to be part of something that was so highly anticipated,” he laughs, “it was a good power dynamic because she’s so completely in control.”
Having signed on as a series regular for season five, Huisman will be returning to Essos next year and chances are you’ll be seeing more of him. Game of Thrones aside, the actor brings his “scruffy- hot” factor, as fans have dubbed it, to several soon to be released big screen projects as well. Despite appearing in such high-profile movies as The Young Victoria and World War Z, the upcoming Age of Adaline will mark his first Hollywood movie as the male lead, starring opposite Blake Lively in a star-studded cast that includes Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn. “Oh my god, it was so cool!” Huisman enthuses about his involvement in the movie that just completed shooting several weeks ago, “It’s something that I was really hoping for and working towards. But you never know if it’s in the cards for you or not so I was really over-excited to get that opportunity.” Though little information is currently available yet for Age of Ada
line, it is confirmed that Huisman plays the eponymous heroine’s love interest and the son of Harrison Ford’s character. When asked how it felt to act alongside the screen legend Ford, Huisman has nothing but praise for him: “He was just blowing me away on set. His focus is so inspiring.”
Another upcoming project for Huisman, to be released at the end of this year, is the Jean-Marc Vallée directed biopic Wild, which will see the actor starring alongside Hollywood darling Reese Witherspoon. This will mark the first reunion for Huisman and Vallée, still fresh from the success of Dallas Buyers Club, since they worked together on The Young Victoria. “That really is one of my favourite things about working with someone you’ve worked with before,” Huisman says, “You know what you’re going to get, and that way, you can really build on it and take it to the next step. I very much liked working on The Young Victoria, and knowing that you’re working with such a great director gives you so much trust and faith. Really, Jean-Marc is one of the greatest directors of our time.”
Oh, about the “scruffy-hot” identifier, Huisman just wanted to clarify that it was simply a matter of circumstances: “I was shooting so many different things at the same time that I couldn’t really change my look. I did shave my beard when I played a ballet dancer for the BBC movie Margot. Yeah… in that movie I had to shave a lot of hair… I won’t elaborate, but it was more than the beard I’ll tell you that!” Follicular consistency aside, it’s a real testament to his acting skills that he manages to make each of his roles distinct enough that you might do a double-take upon realizing that it was the same actor in each.
With his slow, relaxed pan-American accent with just a touch of Southern, it’s easy to forget that Huisman originally hails from suburban Amsterdam. Both he and his wife Tara Elders were heavily involved in the movie scene in the Netherlands before moving to the US in 2009 with their young daughter for the filming of Treme. Set in New Orleans, the critically acclaimed show was Huisman’s first foray into American television, and indeed first time living in another country. The family still has their home base in New Orleans to this day. “It’s a funny place,” Huisman says of his adopted home city, “it’s definitely not Europe, but it’s also not entirely typical USA. New Orleanians like to refer to it as the northern-most point of the Caribbean. I think it was a great place for us to land and start our life in the US.”
It is understandable why Huisman would relocate his entire family to the States. The film industry in the Netherlands isn’t exactly what you’d describe as thriving. Having thought that his career would lead down the musical route, Huisman always played music alongside his acting gigs. It was only after acting seemed to continuously yield more fruitful results that he put music on a bit of a back burner. However, having played a musician in both Nashville and Treme, it seems that his skills came in handy after-all.
Now with the majority of his time tied up in American productions, the question of how he and his wife will pass on their Dutch heritage and culture to their daughter comes up. “She’s grown up most of her life in America,” he says, “but she stays connected through her family and grandparents. We try to at least spend a lot of time in the summer in the Netherlands, when the movies are a little slower. We all speak Dutch at home, so she’s fully bilingual and at the same time she has a better American accent than I do!”
With so many different shows and movies
in the works, Huisman confesses that he’s been
lucky enough to be able to bring his family with
him wherever he goes: “My family is my home,
I’ve learned to be home wherever they are.”
As for his daughter, in order for her to have some semblance of consistency in an almost nomadic lifestyle, he and his wife bought her a cat that they take everywhere. “It’s one of those hairless cats, the ones that often play the evil cat in movies,” he laughs, “but in reality she’s very sweet. A kid needs a pet, our daughter really loves animals so how can we deprive her of a pet just because it’s not always so convenient?”
Whether it’s protecting the Mother of Dragons, or charming an immortal woman, expect to be seeing a lot of Huisman next year. The ever on-the-go actor is currently shooting an independent movie in LA as this issue goes to print, and then he’s jetting off to spend a few precious weeks with his family in Amsterdam. After that, it’s back to work filming the next season of Game of Thrones. With all the attributes of a Hollywood leading man mixed in with a good dose of the Dutch down-to-earth personality, there’s no doubt that Michiel Huisman will go far, so watch this space.
Michiel Huisman: Chanel's New Face
Game of Thrones actor Michiel Huisman is featured in the campaign for Chanel No.5 fragrance.
(Prefacing this by saying that I don't speak Dutch, so this is a Google Translation of the article to English + a little finagling on my end. There's a bit of weirdness but the point gets across well enough.)
Chanel has a new face for the No.5 fragrance. It's no Keira Knightley or Audrey Tautou, but our own Dutch Michiel Huisman. The Game of Thrones actor follows in the footsteps of Brad Pitt , who was previously the face of Chanel's classic scent. In May it was announced that the No.5 campaign would include the model Gisele Bündchen, who previously stood for Chanel Les Beiges. Now it appears that Michiel Huisman, alongside the Brazilian model, will be seen in the campaign for Chanel. Recently, the two were spotted on a set all together, which now appears to have been a real Chanel set. Unfortunately we have to wait until September until we along with Gisele admire this Dutch actor.
(Pictures from Michiel Huisman Daily OP Note: Mods, I know that Tumblr isn't considered a real news source, but these are just for the pictures of MH and Gisele on set, as referred to by the article above. The article above is the real informational source.)
Sources: Vantage Shanghai, Vogue Nederland
Sorry mods, I totally forgot to LJ-cut the first article. Fixed now!