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).

Carice van Houten
Van Houten in April 2019 at the season eight premiere of Game of Thrones
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)

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]

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 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 Black Book.[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]


Year Film Role Notes
19973 rondenEmily
1998Ivory Guardiansunknown
1999Suzy QSuzy
2001Storm in mijn hoofdPeaseblossom / Titania
'AmnesiA Sandra
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


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Het Labyrint Mariek Television series
1999 Suzy Q Suzy Television film
2000 Goede daden bij daglicht: Op weg Carola Television film
2001 De acteurs Ellie Television series
2002 Luifel & Luifel Roos Episode: "De Krottenkoning"
2004 Russen José Machielsen Episode: "De zevende getuige"
Kopspijkers Georgina Verbaan Episode: "Dance-4-Life"
2006 Koppensnellers Episode: "1.16"
2009 Gewoon Hans Herself Television film
2010 In therapie Aya 3 episodes
2011 Human Planet Narrator Dutch dubbing
2012–2019 Game of Thrones Melisandre of Asshai 29 episodes
2015 The Simpsons Annika van Houten (voice) Episode: "Let's Go Fly a Coot"
2016 Robot Chicken Melisandre, Sharon, Mama Bear (voices) Episode: "Triple Hot Dog Sandwich on Wheat"


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1999 Golden Calf Award Best Acting in a Television Drama
Suzy Q
2002 Golden Calf Award Best Actress
Undercover Kitty
International Children's Film Festival Best Actress Won
Carrousel international du film de Rimouski Won
2005 Golden Calf Award Best Actress
Black Swans
2006 Golden Calf Award Best Actress
Black Book
Rembrandt Award Best Actress Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Nominated
European Film Award Best Actress Nominated
German Film Award Best Actress Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
Saturn Award Best Actress Nominated
2008 Rembrandt Award Best Actress
Love is All
Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress
2010 Rembrandt Award Best Actress
Golden Film Award Best Actress Won
Fangoria Chainsaw Award Best Supporting Actress
Black Death
2011 Rembrandt Award Best Actress
The Happy Housewife
Golden Film Award Best Actress Won
Golden Calf Award Best Actress Won
2012 Rembrandt Award Best Actress
Black Butterflies
Golden Film Award Best Actress Won
Golden Calf Award Best Actress Won
Tribeca Film Festival Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film Won
Golden Film Award Best Actress
Rembrandt Award Best Actress Nominated
2013 Rembrandt Award Best Actress
Family Way
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series[33]
Game of Thrones
2015 Nominated
2016 Nominated
2017 Golden Calf Award Best Supporting Actress
2019 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Game of Thrones


  1. In isolation, the surname is pronounced [vɑn ˈɦʌu̯tə(n)].
  2. "Zwartboek beste film aller tijden – Nieuws" (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  3. "Carice – vijfde Gouden Kalf" [Carice – Fifth Golden Calf]. NOS (Dutch Broadcast Foundation) (in Dutch). 1 October 2011. Archived from the original on 3 April 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2017. Actrice Carice van Houten heeft vanavond voor de vijfde keer een Gouden Kalf gewonnen. Het is nog nooit eerder voorgekomen dat een Nederlandse actrice vijf Gouden Kalveren won.
  4. "Carice van Houten". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. Van Houten, Carice (5 April 2013). "College Tour". College Tour (Interview) (in Dutch). Interviewed by Twan Huys. Amsterdam: NTR. 3:00 minutes in. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  6. Slater, Lydia (5 March 2010). "Euro star: Carice van Houten". London Evening Standard.
  7. Biography for Carice van Houten. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
  8. Winnaars Gouden Kalveren 2006 Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 6 October 2006. Retrieved 7 October 2006.
  9. De Wereld Draait Door Archived 13 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 7 September 2006
  10. Stigter, Bianca (4 September 2006). "Carice van Houten slaat in als een bom" [Carice van Houten hits like a bomb] (in Dutch). NRC newspaper. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2006.
  11. ANP (6 December 2006). "Carice van Houten trekt zich terug uit voorstelling". (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 December 2006.
  12. Van Houten Archived 11 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine (February 2008) in the magazine Vanity Fair. Retrieved on 13 December 2008.
  13. Carice van Houten uit Hollywood-film geknipt. 18 September 2008.
  14. "Repo Men Madness! Six Interviews, Seven Clips, Plus B-Roll". Dread Central. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  15. Hibberd, James (19 July 2011). "'Game of Thrones' casts sorceress Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon". Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  16. Scott Feinberg (17 July 2019). "Emmys: Three Nominated 'Game of Thrones' Stars Self-Submitted After HBO Did Not Enter Them". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  17. Tom Huddleston Jr. (18 July 2019). "HBO didn't submit these 3 'Game of Thrones' stars for an Emmy—so they did it themselves and got nominated". Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  18. Film, Nabil Elderkin's website lists the video. Video at vimeo. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  19. News, webpage, 6 August 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  20. Roxborough, Scott (2 September 2019). "Oscars: Netherlands Selects 'Instinct' for International Feature Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  21. Lodge, Guy (17 August 2019). "'Instinct' Review: Carice van Houten Thrills in a Risky Psychodrama". Variety. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  22. Louis Wise (29 March 2019). "Game of fame". The Australian. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  23. Birth announcement, 29 August 2016.
  24. Will Lawrence (24 May 2013). "'Flashback Friday: Carice van Houten". Wonderland Magazine. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  25. ANP (5 July 2007). "Carice van Houten wordt ongelukkig van Hollywood" [Carice van Houten is unhappy with Hollywood]. (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 21 September 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2007. (English translation at van Houten is unhappy with Hollywood)
  26. "Carice van Houten 'afgewezen' door Halina Reijn" [Carice van Houten 'turned down' by Halina Reijn] (in Dutch). De Telegraaf. 14 December 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  27. "Beroemdemeidenlol: het 'stijlboek' van Van Houten en Reijn" [Famous chicks' fun: Van Houten and Reijn's 'style guide'] (in Dutch). NRC newspaper. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  28. "'Anti glamour': Halina Reijn & Carice van Houten" (in Dutch). De Wereld Draait Door. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  29. "Carice van Houten en Halina Reijn zoenen voor fotoshoot Linda" [Carice van Houten and Halina Reijn kiss for fotoshoot in Linda] (in Dutch). 19 November 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  30. "The Ross Owen Show". therossowenshow.
  31. "Carice is de vrouw van Leonardo en Jude???". 28 September 2007. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2007.
  32. "Carice van Houten – See You on the Ice (CD, Album)". Discogs. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  33. Nolfi, Joey (14 December 2016). "SAG Awards nominations 2017: See the full list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
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