By now you’ve probably heard the incredible buzz on one of Netflix’s newest shows: The Haunting of Hill House. The ten-episode series, based on Shirley Jackson’s iconic horror novel of the same name, was created, directed, and executive produced by Mike Flanagan, whose credits include Oculus, Gerald’s Game, and Ouija: Origin of Evil. The story explores a group of siblings who grew up as children in what would become the most famous haunted house in the country. Now adults, the family must come face to face with their past in a very ghostly way.
Shortly before the series premiered, I got to sit down with Michiel Huisman—who stars as the oldest sibling, Steven Crain—for an exclusive interview after seeing the first few episodes. During the wide-ranging conversation he shared how the David Simon HBO series Treme changed his life, what it was like joining Game of Thrones and his theory on how the show might end, getting to work with Mike Flanagan on Haunting of Hill House and the long eight-month shoot, how he figures out the character he’s playing, the way he likes to work on set, and so much more.
While there are a lot of great choices on Netflix right now, I absolutely recommend checking out The Haunting of Hill House. It’s extremely well done and absolutely worth your time. The series also stars Carla Gugino, Timothy Hutton, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel and Victoria Pedretti, Lulu Wilson, Mckenna Grace, Paxton Singleton, Violet McGraw, and Julian Hilliard.
Collider: I was a big fan of Treme.
MICHIEL HUISMAN: Thanks.
I’m curious what you remember about making that show, and how that impacted your life.
HUISMAN: I think nothing I’ve done has impacted my life as much as working on Treme. Because it was the first project that I worked on in the United States after being an actor in the Netherlands my whole life, basically. It was like hitting the jackpot, because the show was so well made and so well written. On top of that, because it lasted for a couple of seasons, it gave me the time to sort of get my feet on the ground and lay a foundation upon which I’ve been trying to build a career ever since.
Also, this guy David Simon is apparently talented.
I had been to New Orleans prior to seeing Treme. After seeing the show, you go to that city and it’s a completely different city.
I can absolutely attribute it to Treme.
HUISMAN: Yes. Well, I feel like in those few years that we lived there, we actually, my family and my wife and our daughter, we stayed there for a couple of years after we wrapped shooting the show, because we love the city so much. That was, in big part, due to his writing and the way they, the writers sort of opened the city, opened my eyes to the beauty of the city.
Also, I heard you became a crack addict for beignets, and so that was the reason you really stayed.
HUISMAN: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly. I had to eventually leave.
Yes, of course. I mean, once it’s out of your system, you got to just move away. You go from there, and you land this small project called Game of Thrones.
What is it like? Because when you signed on, it was popular, but I’ve spoke to a number of the actors on the show, and they’ve all talked about how the first year or two was no big deal, and then each year, that it’s been going-
HUISMAN: Yes, it’s true.
It’s been just life changing.
HUISMAN: Yeah, it’s true. Because when I signed on, I hadn’t even watched the show. I knew that it was a thing, but I had no idea that it was going to be or that it was already such a big thing, and I had no idea that it would have such an impact on my career and the opportunities after that show.
Of course, I have to ask you, I don’t think you were on the last season.
HUISMAN: No, I wasn’t.
Are you in the upcoming season, or are you not allowed to say?
HUISMAN: I’m not allowed to say.
I’ll just say it like this, because I figured you could probably answer this. How does the show end?
Are you even allowed, even if you are or aren’t on the show, a lot of people online are all debating on how the show will end. Are you even allowed to say, personally, how you want the show to end? Or are you not even allowed to say that?
HUISMAN: Oh, yeah, of course, I would be allowed to say that.
I think the show has been building towards something, and I’m just curious what your take is on it, personally.
HUISMAN: Yeah. For the longest of time, I thought it was going to be one of the sisters, one of the Starks that was going to be on the throne, that was going to end up on the iron throne.
HUISMAN: I don’t know if that’s still … Maybe it’s going to be Daenerys, I don’t know. That also seems a little obvious so, yeah.
I think, and this is just my own personal take with no inside information — I actually think the most badass way the shows ends is with the Night King sitting on the throne, the villain winning the throne. I think that’s the end. Obviously, I have no inside information, but that’s what I think the show’s been building towards. I’m just curious what you think.
HUISMAN: I have no idea.
Anyway, we’re off on a tangent. Jumping into why I get to talk to you today, when you signed on, did you know it was going to be an eight-month shoot?
HUISMAN: [Laughs] No, not quite.
Because when you said earlier it was eight months, I’m like, “Get the fuck out of here.”
HUISMAN: Yeah. No, no, no, no, no. That sort of gradually happened, because just logistically, when you have one director shooting all 10 episodes, and there’s only so much prep that you can do before you start shooting, and then at some point you need to catch up. That eight months wasn’t just eight months of shooting. It was also periods in-between where we would break for a week or two, and the Director would have the time to prep the next two or three episodes, et cetera.
That’s amazing that he had that, because I’ve talked to a lot of –I just spoke to Chris McQuarrie from Mission Impossible, and because Tom broke his ankle, they had to take a hiatus. He said it was the greatest thing that happened on the movie.
HUISMAN: Because they had time.
Because he had time to look at all the footage, figure out what was missing, do some more writing, tweak the second act. I asked him, I said, “How come more movies can’t put a two week break in the middle to figure things out and not have to go back for additional photography?” He’s like, “Because it just costs so much and no one wants to talk about it.”
HUISMAN: Yeah, exactly.