ESQUIRE – Michiel Huisman (it’s pronounced Mich-ee-el Haus-mon) is a busy man. His trip to London to meet Esquire is very much a flying visit, a quick stop-off between Spain, where he’s been filming season six of Game of Thrones, and Bucharest, where he’s shooting Harley and the Davidsons, a big-budget mini-series about the founding of the iconic US motorcycle firm. “Apparently, parts of 21st century Bucharest resemble Milwaukee in 1903,” he deadpans.
The 34-year-old actor originally hails from Amstelveen, just outside Amsterdam, but for the last seven years has been based in New Orleans, with his wife and daughter. Not that they see much of the place. “We’re never there,” Huisman says. Instead, he is generally on location, and delighted to be so. “It still, after all those years, feels like I’m getting away with not working,” he says, “because I’m doing what I really like.”
Huisman fell in love with New Orleans while working on Treme, the post-Katrina HBO drama from the creators of The Wire. That show gave Huisman his first break in America; after Treme came recurring roles in dramas Nashville and Orphan Black, before Huisman joined the epic fantasy world of Game of Thrones. It’s Huisman’s Thrones-work that Esquire readers will likely be most familiar with; he plays the swashbuckling Daario Naharis — übermensch, lover of the Khaleesi, principled sellsword (“and the sword I use is called an arakh, by the way”) and Game of Thrones’ primary male object of desire. Naharis is handsome, charismatic and cool and Huisman in person is pretty much the same. Which might make him sound unbearable but Huisman’s work-ethic can’t be faulted; he’s been a performer since childhood and enjoyed a successful career in the Netherlands as an actor and musician before making the leap Stateside.
Upon moving to America, Huisman worked diligently with an accent coach, replacing his natural Dutch cadences with a smoother international American twang, to broaden his appeal. “Treme allowed me to use whatever natural accent I had,” he says, “but I took the time outside of working on the show to really try and get rid of that.” Now, when not working on Game of Thrones, Huisman takes on as many other projects as he can (as well as the upcoming Harley and the Davidsons, recent film projects have included WWI love story Mountains and Stones and romantic thriller 2:22). He has also fine-tuned his horse riding, again in his spare time and of his own volition. “It was super-fun and I’m very pleased to say that whenever you see me on a horse [in Thrones] that it’s me. No face replacement, no stunt double.”
Despite a packed schedule, Huisman shows no signs of fatigue, or of slowing down: “I still feel like I need to do everything. Maybe that’s because I’m always looking forward. It’s like, ‘That was a year ago, that doesn’t count.'”
Games of Thrones season six is on Sky Atlantic from 25 April
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