Spoilers for the season premiere of Game of Thrones are below.

The sixth season premiere of Game of Thrones, titled “The Red Woman,” ended with a major shocker for viewers, as that titular character — the Lady Melisandre — revealed that she’s been keeping a very big secret since she first appeared on the series.

As revealed in the episode’s final scene, Melisandre has been keeping her very appearance magically disguised all along. Her true visage isn’t that of 39-year-old actress Carice van Houten — instead, she is immensely older.
In Melisandre’s case, the magical object helping her weave her illusion is that ruby necklace she usually wears.

So just how old is Melisandre?

As soon as Melisandre’s glamor powers were introduced in A Dance with Dragons, book fans began speculating that she was disguising her own appearance. And there was a big clue that she was older than she seemed in a chapter told from Melisandre’s point of view, in which she thinks that she “had practiced her art for years beyond count.”


The following year, Melisandre was introduced in the HBO series — and actress Carice van Houten seems to have been told about Melisandre’s advanced age from the start, likely to help inform her performance.

We know this because van Houten has been a bit loose-lipped about this secret. “I don’t how old she is, but she’s way over 100 years,” she casually revealed in that 2012 interview.

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