Michiel Huisman is everywhere. He is the Khaleesi’s prime piece on Game of Thrones. He romances Sarah on Orphan Black. He played Reese Witherspoon’s love interest in Wild. Now, he gets his first romantic lead in a big Hollywood weepie alongside fellow ridiculously good looking human, Blake Lively, in The Age of Adaline (in theatres April 24). The new drama from director Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste & Jesse Forever) follows Adaline—who stops aging after a car crash in her twenties—through the decades. Huisman plays Ellis, the babe who finally convinces her to stop running from love (sadly, just one scene features him sans shirt). Huisman touched down in Toronto to talk about his rising fame, all the amazing women he’s worked with and, of course, GofT nudity.
What was it like working with Blake Lively? With Blake, it was very important that there was some sort of chemistry, because it’s a very romantic movie. If there’s no chemistry between the people that are falling in love, I was afraid nobody was going to buy the story. You can’t really do something to make that happen—it’s either there or it’s isn’t. And to me, it felt like it was there. She was so fun to work with, and it made my job very easy.
What was your most memorable moment on set? There is one thing that I will probably never forget, but it’s not funny. On set, Harrison Ford [who plays the father of Huisman’s character] allowed himself to constantly look for what it was that he wanted to do, and I found that very inspiring. It’s not like he was, This is the character and this is what I’m doing. I could tell he was searching and he was trying different things and it showed me how, after all those years, he is still so passionate about acting and about his craft.
Your character does a lot of romantic things in The Age of Adaline. What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done? There are so many things. I’m such a romantic. I guess we should really ask this my wife this question. I was in love with her for a couple of years before we finally got together, and I never dared to tell her. I finally did tell her by writing a song about her, and I sang her the song one day when she was on the back of my bicycle while I was riding through Amsterdam, and we had our first kiss.
Speaking of romance, you co-starred in the Chanel No.5 film, The One That I Want. I love how you’re calling it a film. It was awesome. The only thing I regret is that it was only a five-minute film. I would love to do something else with Luhrmann again. Talk about passion, and about the performance and the image. It’s all so precise.
We’re Canadian, so we love that you’re on Orphan Black. Tatiana Maslany’s character, Sarah, leads the action while your character is more secondary. What’s that like for you? She’s the driving force to the story. It’s really cool, and it was role I gladly took on. I think Maslany is insanely talented, and I thought that my character was one that had the potential to show a different side of Sarah, just by who he is. And it opens up a bit of her heart, so I was happy to do that.
You’ve worked with a lot of really impressive women in Hollywood, like Reese Witherspoon, Emilia Clarke, Tatiana and Blake. Did you learn anything from them? They’re all very talented, but also driven by passion for what they do. They live and breathe what they’re doing, and that makes it really cool to work with them.
In Game of Thrones, you picked up your character, Daario Naharis, where another actor left off. What has that been like? I never think about the fact that I’ve taken over someone else’s role. To me, it was only three episodes that the other guy played the character. It’s my role, and it’s a testament to how good the show is that it’s worked out. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it because I love being part of that show.
There’s a lot of nudity in Game of Thrones. Is that routine now, or does it make you nervous? Well, listen, it’s so functional in Game of Thrones. It’s very important to be nude on that show. So it comes with the territory! My character just seems to have a wardrobe that’s either full-on armor with swords and stuff, or nothing. I knew when I signed on.
It seems like you’re starting to focus more on movies rather than TV. Which do you prefer? I love doing both. It’s really cool to be able to create a character and very slowly build that character over years. There’s also something about how the audience perceives a character like that. They can really grow attached. But to do a movie where you can focus on a character for two or three months very intensely, and you know where the character is going to end up, you can kind of play with that arc and I love doing that as well. For a while, it seemed like TV had more opportunities for me, because it’s hard to break into film, especially if you want to play lead roles. But I feel I owe it to a lot of TV stuff that I’m now able to do this.
You started acting quite young, right? What was your first role? My first was a movie when I was 10 years old, a graduation film for the film academy in Amsterdam. It was a story about a young kid looking for his dog. At the time, I really wanted a dog, but my parents were both working so they didn’t have time to raise a puppy. The animal handler on the movie had another dog and he offered it to my parents, and they said yes. So I got a dog from my first movie.