There’s a handsome new man in Daenerys Targaryen’s life in “Game of Thrones” Season 4, but he’s someone she’s already met.
“Nashville’s” Michiel Huisman has stepped into the role of mercenary Daario Naharis (who was played in Season 3 by Ed Skrein) for the show’s fourth season, and as Emilia Clarke told Access Hollywood, her new co-star is, “a lot of hunk.”
This is primetime cable, so fans shouldn’t expect any soap opera style “and the role of Daario will now be played by…” voice-overs (and there’s been no official word on why the show made the change), but Executive Producer David Benioff promised Michiel will make a big impression.
“Michiel Huisman is phenomenal and I think that there will be that momentary confusion for the audience, but once that they see a scene or two with him, he’s going to become someone they know very quickly,” David told Access. “And he’s just a wonderful, amazing actor and a man of many talents.”
Michiel will be across the dial this television year – he’s been in recent episodes of ABC’s “Nashville” (as Liam, a producer/love interest for the show’s women), and he’s heading to BBC America’s “Orphan Black” Season 2. But, ahead of Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” premiere, Access asked the Dutch actor about all things Daario.
AccessHollywood.com: Is it a relief you did not have to dye your hair blue? (Note: In George R.R. Martin’s books, Daario enjoys the colorful hair hue.)
Michiel Huisman: (Laughs) Yeah, although I’ve never dyed my hair blue and it would be fun to do it at some point, but yeah, no, it was never…
Access: An option?
Michiel: No. The producers, they follow the books closely, but also are not afraid to divert a little bit and when it comes to something like the blue hair that Daario has in the books, it’s probably hard to play this tough mercenary, walking around with a blue beard.
Access: We saw that picture of you on Instagram training before you had been cast. How much work went into training for this, because you do really have a different body type in this vs. in ‘Nashville’ where you’re skinny producer guy?
Michiel: Yeah, well, a lot — a lot of work to be honest. Also, because, first of all, I thought that Daario has this very athletic body, the body of like a well-trained fighter, but second of all, I always really liked to kind of get closer to my character by — if at all required — by learning something or doing something new and this is something I’d never done before. It gave me a way to kind of start prepping the character, like two and a half months in advance. I would work out a lot and kind of feel my body change a bit and get closer to Daario. Sometimes, it’s about learning a certain skill or a certain dialect or whatever. In this case, I loved taking on the physical aspect as a way of getting close the character.
Access : How much weight is that costume ‘cause it sure looks like it’s heavy!
Michiel: Oh yeah… it’s about five layers of leather (laughs). … That’s all part of the fun of working on a show that’s so big and such an epic show as ‘Game of Thrones.’ It starts with putting on the costume, which I really need one or two people to help me [with], and then you walk on set and it’s this amazing hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea or something like that. It’s kind of like half your work is already done there. That’s what it feels like a little bit.
Access: Tell me this, did you have any incidents in your costumes where – I know sometimes ladies, when they have to wear a lot of layers, and they film in the hot sun — you get sick because you overheat.
Michiel: I had a lot of scenes where the Unsullied are in also, so those guys wear only like — they’re very minimalistic outfits, right? And so, usually in the morning, as they were shooting on location, I would feel so bad for them because they were all cold (laughs), and I was nice and comfy in my layering. But then, three hours later, the sun would come out and they were all really comfortable, like all 500 of them and I would be like dying of heat.
Access: You must have lost some of the weight you put on just wearing that costume.
Michiel: Easily, yeah. But then, also, it just takes so much time to put it on and take it off, especially to put it on, that I would sometimes think, ‘How long do we have? We have 10 minutes? 15 minutes until the next shot?’ That’s not enough to take it off. You’re like, ‘Awww!’ But, I would take that any day. I don’t call that suffering. That’s all good.
Access: I know. You get to be in ‘Game of Thrones.’ Tell me about actually getting the role. Obviously someone else played it before. When this came up did you have to chemistry test with Emilia?
Michiel: No. That is very common. It happens a lot, but it didn’t happen in this case. I just auditioned in front of the producers.
Access: And then they sent you off to Morocco or something?
Michiel: Croatia… I had a great time working on the show and I had an amazing time working with Emilia. I think she’s brilliant. I think she’s funny and I hope that the audience thinks that there’s a good chemistry between Daario and Dany.
Access: She needs some love because Khal Drogo is no longer with us. What do you want to hint at about the chemistry? We know they had chemistry before. She had a scene in Season 3 where she was naked in front of him. Going forward, are we going to get some love action for our Dany?
Michiel: Well, I don’t know, but … Daario has obviously never met a woman that has touched his heart this way. … It’s like, this is a whole different thing and I think that he would go through great, great lengths to try and win her over, but she’s the Mother of Dragons, so that’s not easy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Daario will succeed or not.
Access: Were you watching the show before you joined?
Michiel: Yeah, I had seen quite a few episodes, but I’d also — just because there’s always so many things I want to see, there were a few gaps in there and ‘Game of Thrones’ is one of those shows that you can’t really have a gap and you have to kind of commit. So happily… when I got cast, I started all over again, watched all three seasons in probably a week and a half or something.
Access: When you were watching it, before you knew you were going to be in it, did you have hopes that a certain character would get on the throne? Who you were rooting for before you joined the cast?
Michiel: Oh… yeah, I think Dany (laughs).
Access: So you always had a little place in your heart for the Mother of Dragons?
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash