Carice van Houten

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Carice van Houten

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Carice van Houten
Born Carice Anouk van Houten
(1976-09-05) 5 September 1976 (age 40)
Leiderdorp, South Holland, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1997–present
Partner(s) Sebastian Koch (2005–2009)
Kees van Nieuwkerk (2013–2015)[1]
Guy Pearce (2015-present)[2]
Children 1

Carice Anouk van Houten (Dutch pronunciation: [kaːˈris ɑˈnuk vɑn ˈɦʌu̯tə(n)];[3] born 5 September 1976) is a Dutch actress and singer. Born in Leiderdorp, a town in the western Netherlands, she was brought up by writer and theatre-radio producer Theodore van Houten. Her younger sister Jelka is also an actress. She was exposed to the performing arts at an early age and studied at the Maastricht Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Kleinkunstacademie Theaterschool in Amsterdam. Her first leading role as the eponymous protagonist in the television film Suzy Q (1999) won her the Golden Calf for Best Acting in a Television Drama; two years later, she won her second 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).

Since 2012, Van Houten has received international recognition for her role as Melisandre on the HBO fantasy drama television series Game of Thrones (2012–present), for which she has been nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.[4][5] After meeting Australian actor and musician Guy Pearce on the set of Brimstone in 2015, she gave birth to their first child the following year.

Early life[edit]

Van Houten was born on 5 September 1976 in Leiderdorp, the Netherlands. Her mother, Margje Stasse, is on the board of Dutch educational TV, and her father, Theodore van Houten (9 August 1952 – 7 April 2016), was a writer and broadcaster. He raised Carice watching many silent movies, and during a Dutch interview she professed to prefer playing scenes without dialogue.[6] She has a younger sister, Jelka van Houten, who is also an actress. Her paternal grandmother was Scottish.[7] Van Houten went to the St. Bonifatiuscollege (high school) in Utrecht, where she played the leading role in Hugo ClausTijl 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.[8]

Acting career[edit]

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 girl in Undercover Kitty (2001). The first time she could be seen in cinemas in the USA 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 the 2006 film Black Book[9] at the Netherlands Film Festival. Black Book’s director Paul Verhoeven says 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”.[10] The international press was also enthusiastic about her role in Black Book.[11] Dick Schümer wrote in his review of the film in the Frankfurter Allgemeine that Carice van Houten is “not only more beautiful, but also a better actress than Scarlett Johansson“.[12]

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.[13]

Carice’s first English spoken movie was Dorothy from French director Agnès Merlet.

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.[14]

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.[15]

On 4 October 2008 filming began on From Time To Time directed by Julian Fellowes. It is based on the children’s literature classic The Chimneys of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston. Van Houten is attached to star as Maria Oldknow.

In April 2009, it was announced that Van Houten would star in Black Death by UK director Christopher Smith and in the highly anticipated Dutch film Komt een vrouw bij de dokter (English title: Stricken), based on the celebrated novel of the same name by Ray Kluun. She also starred in the Science-Fiction thriller Repo Men.[16]

In July 2011, Van Houten was cast as the priestess Melisandre in the second season of HBO‘s fantasy TV series Game of Thrones.[17]

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

In late November 2012, the video for “Particle of Light”, the second single from her album, “See You on the Ice”, debuted on YouTube. This song was written by Howe Gelb of Giant Sand.

In May 2015, she played Annika Van Houten (Milhouse’s cousin) in The Simpsons episode, “Let’s Go Fly A Coot”. She was cast specifically because of her last name.

In 2016, she played the role of Leni Riefenstahl in Race.

In 2016 she acts in Brimstone, her fourth collaboration with director Martin Koolhoven. Other cast members are Dakota Fanning, Kit Harington and Guy Pearce, who after meeting during filming she is now dating.

Personal life[edit]

Van Houten has a friendship with fellow Dutch actress Halina Reijn, whom she has known since about 1994.[20] They worked together in movies Black Book and Valkyrie. In 2013 the two published a book together called Anti Glamour, a (mock) style guide and a celebration of their friendship,[21] as well as a candid look into the unglamourous back-stage side of their lives.[22] Although the two occasionally kiss on camera,[23] and have joked about being lesbians, there is no actual romantic involvement.[20]

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”.[24]

In March 2016 she announced she was expecting her first child with Guy Pearce in late 2016.[25] On August 29, 2016, Van Houten and Pearce announced the birth of their child, Monte Pearce.[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 Stan and Ollie.[27]


Year Film Role Notes
1997 3 ronden Emily
1998 Ivory Guardians unknown
1999 Suzy Q Suzy
2001 Storm in mijn hoofd Peaseblossom / Titania
2001 AmnesiA Sandra
2001 Undercover Kitty Minoes
2002 The Wild Boar Pandora
2003 Father’s Affair Monika
2005 Black Swans Marleen
2005 Lepel Miss Broer
2005 Bonkers Lis
2006 A Thousand Kisses Samarinde
2006 Black Book Rachel Stein / Ellis de Vries
2007 Love is All Kiki Jollema
2008 Dorothy Mills Jane van Dopp
2008 Valkyrie Nina Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg
2009 Stricken Carmen
2009 From Time to Time Maria Oldknow
2010 Repo Men Carol[28]
2010 The Happy Housewife Lea
2010 Black Death Langiva
2010 Satisfaction
2011 Intruders Susanna
2011 Black Butterflies Ingrid Jonker
2011 Vivaldi Julietta
2012 Jackie Sophie
2012 Family Way Winnie de Roover
2013 The Fifth Estate Birgitta Jónsdóttir
2016 Race Leni Riefenstahl
2016 Brimstone Anna
2016 Incarnate Lindsay Sparrow


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”
2004 Kopspijkers Georgina Verbaan Episode: “Dance-4-Life”
2006 Koppensnellers Georgina Verbaan Episode: “1.16”
2009 Gewoon Hans Herself Television film
2010 In therapie Aya 3 episodes
2011 Human Planet Narrator Dutch dubbing
2012–present Game of Thrones Melisandre of Asshai Main Role; 26 episodes
2015 The Simpsons Annika van Houten (voice) Episode “Let’s Go Fly A Coot


  • Black Book (soundtrack) (2007) – vocals in four songs
  • See You on the Ice (2012)[29]
  • “Fear Not” (2015) – featuring Michael Prins

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1999 Golden Calf Award Best Acting in a Television Drama Suzy Q Won
2002 Golden Calf Award Best Actress Undercover Kitty Won
International Children’s Film Festival Best Actress Won
Carrousel international du film de Rimouski Won
2005 Golden Calf Award Best Actress Black Swans Nominated
2006 Golden Calf Award Best Actress Black Book Won
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 Won
Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress Valkyrie Nominated
2010 Rembrandt Award Best Actress Stricken Won
Golden Film Award Best Actress Won
Fangoria Chainsaw Award Best Supporting Actress Black Death Nominated
2011 Rembrandt Award Best Actress The Happy Housewife Won
Golden Film Award Best Actress Won
Golden Calf Award Best Actress Won
2012 Rembrandt Award Best Actress Black Butterflies Won
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 Jackie Won
Rembrandt Award Best Actress Nominated
2013 Rembrandt Award Best Actress Family Way Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series[30] Game of Thrones Nominated
2015 Nominated
2016 Nominated

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