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An Interview With Kit Harington

5 May 2017

As a descendant of the British Royal family, it’s perhaps fitting that Acton-born Kit Harington found fame as part of the world’s most popular TV tale of regal rivals: Game of Thrones. Now one of the highest-paid actors on the box, with a face that’s recognisable across the globe, Harington has never strayed too far from the city of his birth.

As the star of arguably the biggest TV show in history – with a salary of around $1million per episode to boot – you might imagine Kit Harington to be constantly riding high on a cloud of optimism. After all, it was only a mere five years ago that he was an unknown in the world of acting, and now he’s heading into Game of Thrones’ seventh series as an Emmy Award-nominated international sex symbol.
 
“I’m always cynical about everything – so I would say I’m pretty much a pessimist,” Harington sighs. “I’m a Brit, so I take my dad’s opinion of things: ‘An optimist is just a pessimist without the facts.’ I’m always prepared for the worst – ‘Well, you know, we’ll see what happens’ – and if the worst does happen you just go, ‘Ah well.’ But inside I’m hoping that things go really well!”
 
Harington’s cynical nature seems incongruous with his astronomical success, but it does hint at a possible parallel between the 30-year-old actor’s personality and that of his famously dour on-screen alter ego, Jon Snow. While Harington agrees that Snow “means a great deal” to him, however, he’s quick to deny carrying the same solemn attitude.
 
“I’d be a fool to be complaining about it, and I won’t,” he says. “It’s been incredible to work with so many great people and get to shoot in some very beautiful and exotic settings.
 
“But I want to be able to find other kinds of roles and play seriously messed-up or damaged people. I don’t want to keep on playing these very serious and sombre roles. I’m fortunate though because I’m starting to get a lot of different opportunities and it’s quite exciting.”
 

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Since GoT came to the fore, Harington’s acting forays outside of Westeros have been mixed – from the acclaimed Testament of Youth to the critically panned sword-and-sandals epic Pompeii. The latter is part of a group of roles Harington describes as “so-called opportunistic choices for my career”. Here, he reverts more to that grave demeanour we can liken to Snow. “I really regret them,” he reveals, “and I will do it again!”
 
The occasional under-inspiring cinematic appearance aside, Harington has made a better fist of things on stage in 2015’s The Vote at Donmar Warehouse and then as the titular Dr Faustus at Westminster’s Duke of York’s Theatre last year. For the aristocratic and aptly-named Harington – his father is a Baronet and he was named after Faustus author and celebrated playwright Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlow – it was a return to the places where he first set his sights on a career on stage and screen.

“I was already very interested in performing when I was a kid,” he agrees. “My mother was a playwright and she would often take my brother and me to the theatre in London. I was fascinated by the sets and the actors and this incredible world that was created right in front of you. I loved it.
 
“So acting was something I started doing at school and after graduating I decided I wanted to explore acting more seriously and my mother immediately offered me the choice of the best theatre schools in England. It didn’t take long before it really sank in that I wanted to make acting my profession.”
 
With that profession finally and fully secured, Harington is turning his full focus to giving GoT the super-scaled send-off it deserves in the seventh and eighth series, airing over the next two years.
 
“Everything is going bigger. It’s about giving it everything the technology allows, and letting creative inspiration do the rest.”
 
No matter the heights that GoT has reached – even surpassing the rating for the legendary Sopranos finale – Harington remains typically pragmatic about the benefits of starring in a record-breaking franchise, which include his sprawling London residence.
 
“I call it ‘The house that Thrones Built’,” he smiles. “It was bought with my earnings from the show. I am fully aware of what a privilege it is to own a house like this at my age, when virtually all of my peers in London would feel lucky to own a studio flat!”
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