Michiel Huisman is a Dutch actor you'd never peg for being born and raised in the Netherlands if you didn't already know. Equally convincing as Daenerys Targaryen's sword-swinging loverboy on Game of Thrones as he is a soulful guitar-slinging purist on Nashville, he's an on-the-rise actor who can take on any accent with no trace of his own. When we sat down with him for a roundtable interview last week to talk about his new movie, The Age of Adaline, he conducted the whole thing in a flawless American English you'd swear was native. We spoke with him about his new movie and couldn't help asking a few questions about Game of Thrones. Here are a few things we learned from the interview.
He Was Blown Away by Age of Adaline's Cast
Age of Adaline's greatest strength might be its cast. With Blake Lively leading the film and Harrison Ford in a very strong supporting role, the cast alone was almost enough to convince Huisman to get involved.
"By the time [the movie] reached me, I was already aware of Blake being attached to it as well as Harrison Ford," he said. "So just the thought of being able to play the male lead opposite Blake and being the son of Harrison Ford in one movie is just too much for me, really. And that was before I had even read the script! I read the script and I was kind of swept away by this journey of a woman through time. ... For me there was not a doubt in my mind that I was dying to be a part of it."
He's Thankful to Have Supported Some Very Strong Actresses
He's winning droves of new fans playing Daenerys' love interest on Game of Thrones, but Huisman has also played alongside Connie Britton on Nashville, Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black, and Reese Witherspoon in Wild.
"I love stories about strong women," he said. "I think that there aren’t really enough stories about strong women on film and TV. So to pick one, it was short, but I got to work with Reese Witherspoon on Wild. I admired that so much. The whole project, and the way she portrayed that character, too. She read that book and said, 'This is something I want to make.' And she made it herself.
"If you look at it from that perspective, I get to support stories about strong women, yeah that’s cool. I love that. But I also like stories about strong men. [Laughs] It seems like lately yes I’m supporting, playing opposite some strong women, but maybe in the future I get to play the strong men."
But He's Ready to Step Into Some Leading Roles
"I shot this movie in the spring of last year, and then went back to Game of Thrones, which is so much about just moments because you have such a big cast. So as an actor I was hoping to do projects that wouldn’t force me to nail a moment, but would really allow me to be a character and to carry a story — not just for a couple of scenes, but the whole way through. So that’s how I picked, together with my team, the project that I’m just about to finish."
He added: "It’s very much a story in which I get to carry it the whole way through, and I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed the freedom that gave me. In a certain sense it’s more pressure, because it’s like, 'Okay, now I’m carrying the story.' If the movie doesn’t work, it’s kind of on me. But when I’m shooting I don’t really think about that. That’s only about a year later when I’m talking about it with people. When I’m shooting I didn’t have four scenes to tell a story or sell a character, but a hundred and four. And I really liked that."
He Had to Make Sure 'Age of Adaline' Wasn't Possible in Real Life
In The Age of Adaline, Blake Lively plays a woman who's been 29 years old for nearly 80 years. The movie's explanation for how she stopped aging has to do with a car crash, a near-drowning in freezing water, and a timely lightning bolt. As far-fetched as that sounds, the movie does a decent enough job of selling the concept that even Huisman had to remind himself it was all science fiction.
"The sci-fi element I thought, at least on the page, was actually not so far of a stretch," he said. "For a second I thought, 'Maybe I should Google this to see if this is like scientifically possible.' Okay so not with a human, but with a mouse? Could you actually kill it and bring it back to life if you do it quick enough? So I liked that idea. There was something in this movie, which was that concept, that you kind of have to go along with. So I hope the audience will."
The Great Writing on 'Game of Thrones,' Makes It Very Easy to Work On
"I love being a part of a show like Game of Thrones that is so well made and so well written. The moments that, as an actor, I’m trying to nail, they’re handing them to me on a golden plate. You get to say to the Mother of Dragons, 'The Queen of Dragons without dragons is not a Queen.' Gah! You’re going to try to do everything you can to nail that line!
But He Hasn't Seen Those Daario GIFs Going Around
We asked him if he'd seen the reaction to the season premiere of Game of Thrones, and he said, "No." So we told him about all the butt GIFs that went online after the first episode.
"[Laughs] I guess that’s why I’m not looking ‘cuz that’s awkward!"
Harrison Ford Was Totally Committed to His Role
"It’s a little intimidating [working with him] for the first 10 minutes because of who he is and because I admire him," Huisman said. "I was kind of surprised by how invested he was in this project and in this story. Part of me thought for him this was just a little movie on his roster, but he gave it his all.
"We were shooting for two or three weeks by the time we ended up shooting with him. I felt like it really — it not only puts the movie in another gear, but also he put me in another gear too. He forced me to step it up, and God I loved it."
Book Readers Will Be Surprised By His 'Game of Thrones' Character Arc
Huisman assured us his story in Game of Thrones is "going to be good" but obviously he couldn't reveal much about Daario's future.
"I know where I end up this season." After a pause he added, "We’re letting go of the books this year. Um, I shouldn’t say anything else because everything I say is some kind of a spoilery thing."