Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow opens up to Gavanndra Hodge
There was a time, not so long ago, when Kit Harington, the brooding, battle-weary hero of the global television phenomenon Game of Thrones, considered giving up acting. He had spent eight gruelling seasons and nearly all his 20s playing Jon Snow, who, in the final episode of the show, has to kill Daenerys Targaryen, the woman he loves, because she has become an unhinged tyrant who thinks it’s OK to incinerate thousands of innocents with her massive dragons.
Harington wept at this scene during one of the cast read-throughs. “I cried a lot in the last season, just out of sheer fatigue,” he says. “But I was feeling pretty emotional that day. I think it was more to do with Emilia [Clarke, the actor who played Daenerys], more about the people around me and the story coming to an end.”
We are speaking in a photographic studio in Hoxton, the roast chicken that Harington’s assistant has fetched for his lunch cooling on the coffee table between us (“I can’t eat and talk”). He looks box-fresh, just like the black T-shirt, grey jeans rolled up to mid-calf and grey plimsolls he’s wearing; his shaggy beard is trimmed, his shoulder-length warrior ringlets shorn away.
It’s a little strange to meet someone and be surprised that they look like they’ve recently showered, but we’re more used to seeing Harington smeared with the roiling mud and blood of Westeros, so this general vibe of buffed well-being feels new, as does the laid-back grace with which he approaches being interviewed (in past encounters he has seemed rather tense and reserved – channelling Jon Snow a little too hard, perhaps).
It turns out that Harington, 33, has had a good lockdown. He and his wife, the actor Rose Leslie, who, as the wildling Ygritte, claimed Harington’s on-screen virginity in a thermal spring in season three of Game of Thrones, decamped from their north London home to their 15th-century house in Suffolk in March.
“I did not set myself the task of writing the next big novel or learning an instrument, and failing,” he says. “I gave myself a break from the get-go. I took the opportunity to reflect, to sit with myself, and for the most part that was what I achieved.”
“I could go on about this for hours,” the Jon Snow actor said about his character’s fate.
Kit Harington, who played Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, has revealed that the show’s controversial ending was right for his character, as he would “never have been happy” on the Iron Throne.
Although a year has passed since the HBO fantasy series came to an end, some fans are still upset with the last episode, which saw Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) become the king of the Seven Kingdoms instead of Jon, who was the actual heir to the Westeros crown.
However, in a video posted on @purple_dwagon’s Twitter page, Harington said that Jon’s place was always north of the wall.
“When people say to me, ‘Oh I wish you had been on the Throne’, or ‘I wish you had been with Dany on the Throne,’ I disagree because Jon’s place was always in the north. He would never have been happy in the south,” he began.
He then compared Jon to his adoptive father Ned Stark, who was executed in the show’s first season. “He’s like Ned Stark. If Ned goes south, he’s in danger. It’s like when Tormund says to [Jon], you’re the north. He belongs north of the wall.”
Although it is unclear when this video interview was filmed, Harington admitted that he hadn’t seen the Game of Thrones’ finale.
“I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know if I managed to pull it off, but what I tried to do with the ending was show he’s been saddled with this weight all the way through the series, and he’s this heavy character, he’s literally got a cloak on and he’s heavy.”
He continued, “and I wanted that last bit for there to be a lightness about him, that it’s all falling off, this terrible thing he’s been through is falling off as he goes north.”
“I could go on about this for hours,” he added. [Source]
The Game of Thrones star talks life after the show’s final season and opens up about his Dolce & Gabbana campaign.
Kit Harington needs to charge his Juul. “I used to be a huge smoker, so this now is my lifeline,” he explains, holding the e-cigarette as we get situated before our interview. I can’t help but laugh at the image of Jon Snow puffing clouds of mango vapor in full armor and fur, but Harington clarifies that he was mostly smoking cigarettes during his time on Game of Thrones. Thanks to #VapeLife, he “weaned off.”
Unlike his smoking habit, saying goodbye to Thrones, in which Harington has starred since 2011, felt less like weaning and more like, as he’s said, peeling off his skin. “It’s a brutal experience, especially after nine years,” the 32-year-old actor says, leaning over the edge of a lounge chair in a white tee, blue slacks, and sneakers. Occasionally, he removes his wedding band from his finger and plays with it.
After nearly a decade in the role of brooding war hero Jon Snow, Harington is eager to take lighter parts in the future. He’s already shown he’s ready for a change when he hosted Saturday Night Live beardless (the photos sent fans into an uproar) and took on wild characters like a burlesque dancer and an undercover boss getting a rectal exam.
Though Harington didn’t take anything from the Game of Thrones set except a pair of Jon Snow’s gloves (he argues he isn’t cool enough to get a commemorative tattoo), he has much more to show from the experience than props. He met his wife, Rose Leslie, when they co-starred in earlier seasons, and he’s forged lasting friendships with cast mates like Emilia Clarke, who portrays his onscreen lover/aunt/possible competitor, Daenerys Targaryen. “I just got an incredible amount of admiration for her,” he says.
When we meet at the end of March, it’s still weeks before GoT fans would see Jon ride a dragon, discover his true parents, and watch Daenerys burn King’s Landing to the ground. He’s wary of sharing potential plot points—he won’t even comment on scenes in the trailer, even though they’re eventually confirmed in the first few episodes of Season 8. Harington doesn’t, however, shy away from promoting his gig as the face of Dolce & Gabbana’s men’s fragrance, The One. Like Clarke, he’s been an ambassador for the Italian brand since 2017. The actor is a strong believer in wearing a scent—when he’s not on set. “I think you should carry it around with you all the time,” he says.
Ahead, the actor talks to BAZAAR.com about representing Dolce & Gabbana, the epic battle sequences in Season 8, and what’s next for him.
We can tell you what Kit Harington smells like: Tobacco, with a spicy blend of cardamom, ginger, cedarwood, and citrus spice accord. That’s because he’s the face of Dolce & Gabbana’s fragrance, The One for Men. And Harington can tell you what Jon Snow, his beloved character on Game of Thrones smells like—but no, he won’t share anything else about his character’s fate before the show comes to an end. He will, however, tell us about his failed attempt as a perfumer and fragrance philosophy, though, so read on.
What have you learned about fragrance and grooming from working with Dolce & Gabbana? I’ve certainly gotten a better sense of style from doing it. That’s one of the great things about a campaign like this—if it’s a brand you like, it encourages you to try dressing in ways you might haven’t before. But my grooming regime is as simple as I can make it.
What is that? One thing I might have been forced to do in these campaigns is take a bit better care of myself. (laughs)
Does that mean washing your face and putting on moisturizer? Yeah, face wash is something I didn’t discover until now.
What do you like about The One? Where I live, it’s all wood paneled, wood beams—it’s an old house. My favorite thing about the scent is it has a wooden, masculine feel to it, but sophisticated, and it’s how I imagine I would like to come across.
What are your favorite scents? Wood fires. I like the smell of an old car, when you get a vintage car, that old musky petrol type of smell. The English countryside has a smell unlike anywhere else, a kind of slightly damp, fresh smell and that’s kind of me. Tobacco which I love, because I used to be a smoker and now I’m not. The smell of cigarettes I just love.
Do certain scents remind you of your childhood? Yeah mum’s roses. Now I’m lucky enough that I’ve got a rose garden as well and it’s one of the things I love. I remember one of my earliest memories to do with perfumes was trying to make my mum a perfume out of her roses. While she was away I picked all her roses and crushed them up with some water, and I look back now and I remember her face and I was thinking ‘why doesn’t she look as pleased as she should be?’ I destroyed her rose bush.
Did she wear it? I think she pretended. She was a good mum and she probably cursed me behind my back.
For months Kit Harington has been keeping a secret that everybody wants to know. It’s been an exhausting balancing act, like treading water with a smile on your face.
Of course he isn’t going to tell you how Game of Thrones ends, whether Jon Snow lives or dies, who ends up on the Iron Throne, or even if his beloved direwolf Ghost survives till the end. Nevertheless it hangs in the air every time he talks about ending the biggest television show of all time.
Now, with only three episodes remaining, he is starting to look forward to the freedom that will come with it all being over.
“I’m just going to be really relieved when everyone’s seen it,” he tells me on the phone from New York, where he is currently living while his wife (and former Game of Thrones co-star) Rose Leslie films drama The Good Fight. “It’s going to feel like closure and I think that’s going to be incredibly satisfying, if a bit sad.”
For Harington the series has been a bittersweet experience. The show gave him unimaginable success as a young actor, introduced him to the love of his life and surrounded him with a group of co-stars who we have watched grow into a close (if somewhat murderous) family. But then it also resulted in a poor spell of mental health where he questioned whether he could really act and felt any semblance of privacy was being wrestled from him.
The obsessive coverage was at its most intense after he died in the finale of season five and for months was dogged with questions about whether he’d return. But even this period proved bittersweet, as it lead to his proudest scene: “When Jon is asked what was beyond death and he says ‘Nothing, there was nothing at all’” he says. “It’s rare to have had someone die and come back, and I think that was the most profound moment for Jon.”
Of course, his proudest moment might still be to come. But he’s too acrobatic at spoiler-dodging to even hint there’s a big scene for his character on the horizon.
The first thing you notice about Kit Harington is the hair. Or, these days, the relative absence of it. On “Game of Thrones,” the show that brought him global fame as good-hearted action hero Jon Snow, Harington’s locks furl out behind him like a military banner, providing glamorous evidence of Snow’s lack of vanity. (He’s too consumed by duty, after all, to get a haircut.) They’re the most compelling curls on the small screen since “Felicity” — which makes it all the more surprising that Harington’s now sporting short, slicked-back hair.
It’s in service of his first gig since “Thrones” wrapped shooting, as thwarted screenwriter Austin in Sam Shepard’s American theater standard “True West,” which played London’s West End from Dec. 4 to Feb. 23. But to Harington, the cut is less professional obligation than opportunity to begin the process of leaving behind Jon Snow. “For any other job I’ve had up until now, there’s a contractual element over me that I have to return to ‘Thrones’ with a similar look,” he says over lunch in his home in London before an evening performance. “I can’t tell you the amount of conversations I’ve had with agents about whether my hair’s going to grow back in time.”
It was a style, and an identity, that could feel at times constricting. Shooting what quickly came to be the biggest show in the world throughout his 20s left him at the precipice of 30 (he’s 32 now) wondering what was left to accomplish. “A huge part of my 20s are me with that look,” he says. “My wedding pictures [with former co-star and now-wife Rose Leslie] are me with that look. For a long time toward the end of ‘Thrones,’ I felt like I wanted to be a new person but I was stuck in this shape.” On the last day of shooting, Harington says, “I took off the costume, and it felt like my skin was being peeled away. I was very emotional. It felt like someone was shedding me of something.”
“Thrones” is the most Emmy-winning prime-time series and HBO’s most watched show ever, one whose international broadcasts have made Jon Snow an icon of rectitude the world over. And it’s made Harington — whose on-screen relationship with Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen was last season’s surprise twist — into among the most speculated-about stars on Earth, as fans wait for the show’s April 14 return to see if Jon will die (again), claim the crown, or something in between.
In Variety‘s March 19 cover story, Kit Harington opens up about the final season of “Game of Thrones” and growing into adulthood as part of the biggest show on television. In a conversation in London in December, Harington opened up about the similarities between the series’ politics and our own.
“I think it’s always been about two things for me,” says Harington. “About dysfunctional families — or families in general, always where the best drama is — and the everlasting idea that people who seek power are very often the last people who should have it. Unfortunately, we’re leaving ‘Thrones’ with a Joffrey as the President of the United States of America.” (Joffrey, the mad boy-king who is killed in the fourth season, has drawn frequent comparisons to Donald Trump.)
“I’m deeply sad of the state of the world as ‘Thrones’ ends. Because if it was prophetic, you’d hope that people would have watched ‘Thrones’ and tried to avoid some of the situations these characters find themselves in, and I feel like we are living in a more ‘Thrones’-like world.”
Harington also addressed the degree to which “Thrones” could be controversial, raising questions over time about, for instance, its depiction of female characters and the gauntlet of violence and assault certain of them were put through.
“I think it’s an amazing fantasy, because it deals with incredibly difficult and varied, very human characters. It has incredibly complex female and male characters in it. It was controversial, very controversial at times, but it asks questions of its audience and it asks questions of its viewership,” he says. “And so in that way it did what dramas should do, and it raised the idea of what fantasy could be. That could seem less important than other things, but it’s always been sneered upon, the fantasy genre, as being less important. But I think it’s an amazing genre and a genre with endless scope.” That scope includes, perhaps, a depiction of leadership with endless real-world resonances. [Source]
In the decade since Kit Harington was cast as Jon Snow in HBO’s Game of Thrones, he’s had to do almost everything. Everything, that is, except smile.
“I have played possibly the unfunniest character ever to have graced television,” he says.
So it’s fitting that as he says it, sitting in his London home, he’s laughing. He’s happy because he’s mid-run in a Sam Shepard play, True West, where he gets to wear his hair short and shave off that beard. He’s happy because his wife of nearly a year now, Rose Leslie, is upstairs rehearsing for her role in CBS All Access’s The Good Fight.
And he’s happy because the whole world is about to see the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. It debuts April 14, and he can’t wait.
“I think it will be strong,” he says over a cup of tea, wearing a flat cap and jeans. “But you don’t want to mess it up on the very last outing.”
Harington is realistic about possible reactions. “I haven’t watched a single series that has a following like Thrones does where everyone is satisfied with the ending,” he says. “I don’t think that it’ll be any different with this. I think it will divide opinion.”
He’s read all the scripts, of course, making him one of the hundred or so people in the world who know exactly what will happen. He hasn’t told anyone — “not even Rose,” whom he met on the series (she played Ygritte, with whom his character had a brief, ill-fated fling).
“It’s not because I don’t trust people; it’s because they don’t want to know. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for them. There’s a part of me, in my head, that thinks they might have completely changed the ending anyway. Maybe they’ll put in something that we never saw. I don’t know. So we’ll see, but no, I haven’t told anyone.”
In an interview with Zoe Ball on her BBC radio show the British actor admitted that he was hanging onto the ominous keepsake.
“I kept that statue. You know, the one in the crypt? I kept it,” he said. “They sent it to my house so I’ve got it in my shed. How sad is that? I was the only one who kept their statue. That’s how narcissistic I am. I’m going to turn it into a water feature.”
The statue appears in a teaser for the eighth season which landed last weekend. In it we see Jon Snow carrying a flaming torch down a tunnel in the underground crypt at Winterfell before being joined by Sansa and Arya.
At the end of the corridor they each stand face to face with statues of fallen family members Ned Stark, Catelyn Stark, and Lyanna Stark ( Jon’s real mother)—before arriving at their own graves.
In the same interview Harington also admitted that he wasn’t totally happy with the ending but felt satisfied with it. “Hopefully it’ll change TV again like it did originally” he said.
If not at least he’s got the statue of him to remember the good times. [Source]
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