ESQUIRE – He talks about researching cults, perfecting his American accent, and, yes, Jon Snow’s fate.
To gaze upon Michiel Huisman’s IMDB page is to feel a deep shame for all the moments you waste during your brief time on this earth.
In the past five years alone, the Netherlands-born actor has romanced Khaleesi on Game of Thrones, Rayna Jaymes on Nashville, and Cheryl Strayed in the film adaptation of Wild. (OK, that last one may stretch the definition of romance a tad, but the point still stands.) He’s also hung out with the clones on Orphan Black, helped Brad Pitt fight zombies in World War Z and struggled with addiction and jazz on his breakthrough role in Treme.
When Esquire called him on location in Bucharest, he was hard at work on a new miniseries. But he nonetheless took some time to talk about The Invitation, the twisty and tense psychological thriller from Girlfight director Karyn Kusama, in which a small California dinner party slowly reveals itself to be something a bit more sinister. Huisman has plays his fair share of charming rogues before, but as David he gets to be both unnervingly polite and—spoiler alert—a touch evil. Esquire talked with him about cults, grief, and mastering an American accent—and he was also gracious enough to answer a Game of Thrones question. (There are some light spoilers for The Invitation in this interview, but anyone who has ever seen a film could figure out that the something crazy has to happen at the dinner party—otherwise no one would bother showing up on set.)
What attracted you to this project?
Well, a couple of things. We shot this movie right after I had done The Age of Adaline, which is this very romantic movie that came out last year. I was really up for doing the opposite: something dark and with an ensemble cast. I also liked the idea of Karyn Kusama returning to more of an independent movie like the one she started out with, Girlfight, which was really strong. That, and a couple of things about the story: the understandable philosophy of letting go of your grief, but then taking that way too far, which actually is kind of dangerous.
The movie presents a dichotomy in which your character purges guilt and regret and it makes him murderous, while the protagonist can’t let go at all and he can’t move forward in life.
Yeah, exactly. So what is the answer to the healthy state of mind? It’s probably somewhere in the middle, yeah?
You’ve been working a great deal in the last several years, in lots of different roles. Is this your first time playing…if not the villain, then the antagonist?
Yeah, actually. I think so. I’ve played bad boys on multiple occasions, but never the one that goes this far—without spoiling anything, of course. But that was also interesting about the project and the character for me.
Was that something you were attracted to, to be not morally ambiguous but…
Yeah, to a certain extent I was. But I think what attracted me to David’s evilness was the fact that he doesn’t really show that. He tries to be the opposite. He tries to be very understandable and very gentle to the other people, so he’s not the baddie, and it’s not necessarily like we see it coming. I thought it was going to be fun and a challenge to portray that, and go against what you expect from the bad guy in the movie.