‘Game of Thrones’ actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

June 08, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.
kitharington2 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, photographed in March 2013, stars in HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones," in which he plays Jon Snow. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

jonsnow Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in the "Game of Thrones" Season 3 premiere. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

jonsnow6 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, left, Richard Madden, Sean Bean and Alfie Allen in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

jonsnow2 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Isaac Hempstead-Wright, left, as Bran Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

jonsnow3 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington as Jon Snow, left, Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark and Richard Madden as Robb Stark in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

jonsnow4 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Nickolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, left, and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

jonsnow5 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington and John Bradley play Brothers of the Night's Watch in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

comiccon1 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, left, Kit Harington and Lena Headey applaud their fans at HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July 2011. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

comiccon2 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, left, Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage answer fans' questions during HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July 2011. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

cast Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Michelle Fairley, left, John Bradley, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, Emilia Clarke, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau arrive at the Hollywood premiere of "Game Of Thrones" Season 3 at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 18, 2013. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

exhibitopening2 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, Maisie Williams and Rose Leslie attend the "Game of Thrones" exhibition in New York City on March 27, 2013. (Mike Coppola / Getty Images)

exhibitopening1 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, left, Maisie Williams, Rose Leslie, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Turner and John Bradley attend the "Game of Thrones" exhibition in New York City on March 27, 2013. (Mike Coppola / Getty Images)

kitharington4 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, photographed in March 2013, stars in HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones," in which he plays Jon Snow. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

kitharington5 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, photographed in March 2013, stars in HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones," in which he plays Jon Snow. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

kitharington1 Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington matures with Jon Snow

Kit Harington, photographed in March 2013, stars in HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones," in which he plays Jon Snow. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

For Kit Harington, the young English actor who plays Jon Snow in “Game of Thrones,” the show is a coming-of-age story — his own.

Though Harington had acted on stage before the HBO fantasy series, which wraps up its third season Sunday, “Thrones” marks his first role in front of a camera, and it’s a big one. Jon Snow plays an increasingly significant part in “Thrones” and George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, on which the sprawling TV show is based.

“By the time it goes the distance, it will be years and years,” said Harington, 26, over drinks at the Four Seasons hotel’s Windows Lounge in Beverly Hills earlier this spring. “It will be most of my 20s, really. You look at it in those terms, and that’s a big portion of my life that I’m dedicating to this show. So I’ve got to love it.”

Harington says he does, largely because he identifies with his character. He admits to peeking ahead in Jon Snow’s future, reading four of Martin’s seven planned books in the series.

“I devoured them, really,” he said. “I stopped because I got way too far ahead of myself. He becomes an older, different person, and I had to really reel back my mind for Season 1, because he’s just this young chap, and none of that world has hit him yet.”

PHOTOS: Meet the ‘Thrones’ cast without their costumes

Kit Harington plays Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones." (Oliver Upton / HBO)

Kit Harington plays Jon Snow in “Game of Thrones.” (Oliver Upton / HBO)

Jon Snow is introduced as the illegitimate son of the Lord of Winterfell, Sean Bean’s honorable Ned Stark, who shockingly lost his head as the show’s first season reached its climax. Snow’s status as a bastard sets him apart from the rest of the Stark brood, creating enough of a rift to induce him to join the Brothers of the Night’s Watch, who vow to forsake all family, lands, allegiances and former crimes and instead guard the realm’s northern wall against threats from the wintry lands.

At the end of Season 2, Jon and his Night’s Watch companions are ambushed by so-called Wildlings — free people who live north of the Wall — and Jon is commanded to go undercover among them to learn their plans. This season has chronicled Jon’s time as a spy in their camp as he grapples with a choice between honor and freedom.

“What it really is, is playing the journey into being a man,” Harington said. “Playing it while I’m going through that myself is kind of a bizarre thing for me — developing a character while going through my 20s and making my own mistakes while Jon was making his in completely different worlds. So each year, I return to him hopefully having grown up a bit as a person, to bring that to him.”

PHOTOS: ‘Game of Thrones’ Hollywood premiere

Along the way, Snow finds guidance from a series of “patriarchal, paternal figures looking over him,” Harington notes, from Ned Stark to Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) to Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle), to Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) to Lord Commander Mormont (James Cosmo) to Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong) and eventually king of the Wildlings Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds).

“They all individually see something in him, see a potential for leadership or to be a great warrior or something,” Harington said. “But it just frustrates Jon all the way through. He’s constantly got someone on his shoulder, saying ‘You’re doing this wrong,’ or ‘You’re doing that wrong.’”

HBO has announced that the “Game of Thrones” will run for seven seasons, but Harington says Season 3 was the one he was “desperate to get to.”

“What I found tough with Jon for the first two seasons is this huge sense of honor, and that he’s such a goodie,” Harington said. “He’s quite an emotional young chap, but he’s always doing the right thing. Something changes in him when he realizes the world isn’t always good, and his father died because there are bad people out there, and sometimes you have to rebel a bit.”

QUIZ: Test your ‘Thrones’ knowledge

Rose Leslie plays the Wildling warrior Ygritte, who has her eye on Jon Snow. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Rose Leslie plays the Wildling warrior Ygritte in “Game of Thrones.” (Helen Sloan / HBO)

One of those forms of rebellion occurred while naked in a cave. Snow broke his Night’s Watch oath to forsake women with Ygritte (Rose Leslie), a tough Wildling woman who falls in love with Snow and teaches him the ways of the “free folk.”

It was Harington’s first love scene.

“It’s strange being nude in front of a whole crew full of people and trying to be very intimate,” he said. “It’s a very surreal experience. But it was such a beautiful scene. It was one of those very happy moments that you get in this series. You don’t get many moments of tenderness.”

There are, however, plenty of moments of violence, intrigue and even supernatural horror as more fantasy elements seep into the swords-and-sex drama. About 5 million people tune in for “Game of Thrones” each Sunday, though when adding DVR playbacks, video on demand and other platforms the audience more than doubles.

“The whole experience of the show has crept up on me over the years, and it’s only now I’m starting to realize it’s quite a big TV show,” he said. “The thing that has really surprised me is it becoming a part of pop culture. It got referenced on ‘The Simpsons,’ and I was like, ‘Hell, that’s big time.’”

Harington has amassed a fan following of his own, many of whom view him as a brown-eyed heartthrob, and the exposure has paved the way for him to take steps into the world of feature films, including a role alongside Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore in this fall’s “Seventh Son” and a voice part in “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

In the meantime, Harington says his heart is still in “Thrones.”

“There’s a lot of us who are young British actors who this is our first experience of being in a show like this, and I think that bonds you in a certain way,” he said. “I don’t want it to become a kind of monster where it stops being personal. At the moment, it feels like a very close-knit family that we’re part of.”

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark

RECENT AND RELATED

Maisie Williams plays Arya Stark, who learned of a secret organization known as the Faceless Men at the end of last season. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Maisie Williams on what’s best for Arya Stark

‘Thrones’ duo on adapting George R.R. Martin

Richard Madden to play ‘Cinderella’ prince

‘Game of Thrones’: Meet the Hound, Rory McCann

‘Game of Thrones’: Jaime Lannister’s evolution

‘GOT’ star Michelle Fairley: ‘Everyone’s dispensable’

‘Thrones’ brings new peril for the Stark women

‘Thrones’: Meet the cast without their costumes

‘GOT’ premiere: Westeros comes to Hollywood

‘Game of Thrones’ piracy comment rejected by HBO

Comments


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Close
E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis