In the upcoming Apple TV+ series Echo 3, an American woman is taken hostage by Venezuelan revolutionaries, and it's up to her brother and husband — who both happen to be Army special forces — to rescue her. The brother is played by Luke Evans, the super-hunky actor from the Hobbit movies who played the villain in Fast & Furious 6 and Gaston in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. The husband is played by Dutch actor Michiel Huisman, who might be a little harder to place. Maybe it's the Dutch name that's proved to be a pronunciation challenge (it's “muh-KEEL HOUSE-man”.) Maybe it's because he hasn't landed that role in a blockbuster film yet. But odds are you've seen him in something, and even if you haven't, his work in the following films and TV shows are all worth checking out.
Before he crossed over into American television, Huisman worked in his native Holland, where he was also lead singer and guitarist for the Dutch band Fontane. This musical background came in handy for his first breakthrough role in the HBO series Treme. Huisman played Sonny, a busker and aspiring musician whose turbulent relationship with his girlfriend/musical partner (Lucia Micarelli) was complicated by his jealousy and substance abuse. Sonny was not a terribly likable character early on, but Huisman's empathetic performance guided the character through a redemption. Despite its pedigree (this was the show David Simon made after The Wire) and HBO giving it four seasons, Treme was somewhat famously under-watched, which likely contributed to its cast not getting the recognition they deserved.
After Treme, Huisman bounced around between a few TV roles. He played a record producer and brief love interest for Connie Britton's character on Nashville and the father of Sarah Manning's child on Orphan Black. Then in 2014 he was cast to take over the role of Daario Naharis, originally played by Ed Skrein, on Game of Thrones. The casting change occurred between the third and fourth seasons, and coincided with Daario becoming less of a brash and vain soldier boy and more of a brave and reliable companion for Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). As re-castings go, Huisman was an improvement over Skrein, giving the character a bit more depth and gravitas, and making Daario a far more credible companion to Dany. He served his queen faithfully for three seasons, and then when she peaced out to go try and take the Iron Throne, Daario was left behind to keep the peace in Slaver's Bay. Which wasn't a great deal for him, but also Dany's plans fell to pieces after she left Daario behind, which is probably a coincidence but maybe not??
Director Karyn Kusama's Hollywood Hills horror flick is a slow burn of a movie. It premiered at the SXSW film festival in March of 2015 but wasn't released until the following spring, with a very limited theatrical run before a move to VOD. Shortly thereafter, though, the film was added to Netflix, where it began to attract an audience. Rightly so, given how successful it is at delivering paranoid, claustrophobic terror with its story of a group of friends who reunite for dinner only to discover that one of them has now clearly gotten involved with a cult. Tammy Blanchard is the friend and Huisman plays her new husband, and while hers is probably the performance of the film, he's pretty perfect at playing the seemingly reasonable and rational guy who is more and more obviously in the thrall of this cult. This is another case where Huisman was playing to an audience that was small but dedicated, and it remains one of the best feature films he's made.
Two years after making The Invitation a cult hit, Netflix boosted Huisman's profile even further. The Haunting of Hill House was Mike Flanagan's first Netflix limited series (he's since created The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, and The Midnight Society), and he cast Huisman as one of the leads. Huisman played the eldest of the Crain siblings, who were all traumatized by their experiences at Hill House as children and who reunite to take on the house and all its ghosts when the house claims their sister. The appeal of Flanagan's horror brand is the way it depends on deeply felt character bonds to ratchet up the tension when the characters are in danger, and Huisman, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen delivered as the Crain siblings. Huisman in particular played the all-too-human weaknesses of his character in a way that elicited more sympathy than might have been expected.
One of the aspects of Huisman's appeal as a film and TV actor that has perhaps gotten short shrift in this assessment is that he is just wildly hot and attractive. That element was capitalized upon in a big way in The Flight Attendant, a show whose first season dared to ask the question: What if you woke up in bed with the hottest man ever (yay!) and he was dead (oh)? Huisman was onboard for more than just corpse duty, though. Between flashbacks and an extended life as a voice in lead character Cassie's (Kaley Cuoco) head, Huisman got to peel back more layers on this mysterious hunk of a character. The stranger Season 1 got, the more the show indulged in the campy pleasures of its undead hottie, and thus Huisman got to display a Matthew McConaughey-ish charm that really worked.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.