After nearly a decade of playing Jon Snow on HBO’s worldwide smash hit Game of Thrones, actor Kit Harington is ready for his next adventure. But before he moves on, there are still two more episodes of the series to finish off. Despite the sadness of having something as big and special as Thrones finishing up, Harington said he feels lucky to have worked on the series for so long and seeing it be so successful around the world.
“I’ve felt very fortunate to even be in it, and now it’s coming to an end,” Harington told Men’s Journal. “In a way I don’t know how to describe it; it’s been many things for me. It’s been a such a big part of my life and it doesn’t fit into any one description of how I feel about it. But it’s been an incredible experience and I’ve had a lot of luck to be in this role as Jon Snow.”
We caught up with Harington to talk about working on the final episodes of Game of Thrones, what he took home from the set, his all-time favorite episode, and about the time he accidentally punched a co-star.
Men’s Journal: What was it like for you working on the final episodes and how did it feel finishing Jon Snow’s story?
Kit Harington: It’s weird, I always felt like with Thrones ending, in a way it’s like this: You know when you watch sportsmen and they get interviewed after an event or a big game, and people ask them how they feel? I always kind of felt bad for them, because how are you meant to accurately describe how you feel about something like that right after? This job in many ways has felt like winning a medal in something. I’ve felt very fortunate to even be in it, and now it’s coming to an end. In a way I don’t know how to describe it; but it’s been an incredible experience.
The “Battle of the Bastards” was a major moment for Jon’s character. What was it like to film that battle, which at the time was the biggest the show had done?
The “Battle of the Bastards” was quite an episode to film. A funny moment from that is what I punched Iwan [Rheon, who played Ramsay Bolton] in the face [laughs]. At the end of that battle when I’m supposed to punch him and lay into him, I accidentally connected with him once. I bought him a beer after that to make up for it.
What was your favorite season of Game of Thrones?
I think the most magical season for me was Season 2. We realized the show was a success and it was getting so big and doing well. We went to Iceland and it was just an amazing time in my life during Season 2. Relationships got closer and there was so much we did that was important for the future of the show and how big it would get.
How about your favorite episode of Game of Thrones?
My favorite episode would probably be “Hardhome” in Season 5. It felt like that was where the show ramped up a little bit and became even bigger. Thrones is always massive, but Hardhome was just on a massive scale and at the time was one of the biggest things we had ever done. The extras on our show are some of the most hardworking people I’ve ever worked with, and especially on that episode they gave all they had, and that helped make it even better for everyone working on it.
Did you bring anything home with you from the Season 8 set of Game of Thrones?
The stuff is too precious to steal now [laughs]. HBO keeps a close eye on it. I took my gloves, that’s the only thing I took.
What was it like building relationships over the years with the cast? Any funny memories from working on the show together?
There are so many moments from the nine years of working on this. There’s not one moment I can jump on, there were so many. Most of what Thrones was, people won’t have heard about it in interviews, because it’s the stuff we’ll never share in interviews that really made those friendships and relationships as strong as they are. Right now the fun thing is, there’s a big Game of Thrones WhatsApp group with a bunch of the actors. It’s full of fun and reminiscing and those great memories from the series.
What’s your training like for the show and when you’re working on these big battles, like the Battle of Winterfell?
In a way I didn’t do much specifically for each season, obviously there’s some stuff I did to get ready, but nothing super extensive. I always felt you come back to the show and didn’t necessarily train for it, but you felt ready for it by wearing the costumes and doing the fights. Once you put on that armor and get going, you’re sort of getting fit while doing it. I always felt fitter at the end of the show than I did coming into it. My worry now is that I always had that to come to get me in shape, now what jobs do I have to do that? I’ll have to pick them carefully [laughs].
While playing Jon Snow, you had a very recognizable head of hair and beard. How did it feel to cut it and what was it like to have it all that time?
It’s funny because growing up I was clean shaven and had short hair all through until I did Thrones. You can’t really predict what your style is going to be, and I’m not sure what my style will be over the next 10 years, just like I didn’t know when I was 20. It became quite a defining thing for me. Long hair and a beard becomes that defining feature when you have it that long, as I found out from having it and people wanting to talk about it [laughs]. I realized, “Oh, I’m one of those guys now.” You kind of just deal with it, and I enjoyed having it, but it’s nice to change things up.
What have you enjoyed about working with Dolce & Gabbana and being the face of The One For Men fragrance during your time on Thrones?
The level of enjoyment has been quite high and it’s been fun, and the campaign itself had a lot of joy and fun in it. As an actor there’s all sorts of things you want to tick off the list on, and realize that you’ve reached a level of success or notoriety and you get to do a campaign. That’s an amazing box to tick. But you want to pick the right one. You want one that makes you feel comfortable and makes you feel you fit the brand, rather than do something for the sake of it. I try and do everything that way. I feel both of those with this work with D&G.
(The One For Men fragrance is available for purchase here.)