The zuerst thing you notice about Kit Harington zu sein the hair. Or, these days, ns relative absence of it. Top top “Game von Thrones,” the zeigen that carried him globalen fame as good-hearted activity hero Jon Snow, Harington’s locks furl out behind ihm like a armed forces banner, giving glamorous evidence von Snow’s lack des vanity. (He’s too consumed von duty, after all, zu get a haircut.) They’re die most compelling curls ~ above the small screen due to the fact that “Felicity” — which provides it all the more surprising that Harington’s jetzt sporting short, slicked-back hair.

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It’s bei service des his first gig due to the fact that “Thrones” covering shooting, together thwarted screenwriter Austin an Sam Shepard’s American theater standard “True West,” which play London’s West end from Dec. 4 to Feb. 23. But zu Harington, die cut ist less expert obligation 보다 opportunity to begin die process of leaving behind Jon Snow. “For any other arbeit I’ve had up until now, there’s a contractual ureigensten over me that I have to return to ‘Thrones’ with a similar look,” he claims over lunch an his home in London before an evening performance. “I can’t phone call you the amount von conversations I’ve had actually with agents about whether mine hair’s going to grow back bei time.”

It was a style, and in identity, that might feel at mal constricting. Shoot what conveniently came zu be ns biggest show an the world throughout his 20s left ihm at the precipice of 30 (he’s 32 now) wondering what was left to accomplish. “A large part von my 20s space me through that look,” that says. “My wedding pictures room me v that look. For a long time toward the end of ‘Thrones,’ ich felt like ich wanted kommen sie be a neu person but i was stuck in this shape.” ~ above the tonnage day of shooting, Harington says, “I took off ns costume, and it felt prefer my skin was being peeled away. Ich was very emotional. The felt favor someone was shedding me des something.”

“Thrones” is the many Emmy-winning prime-time series und HBO’s most watched zeigen ever, one whose international broadcasts oase made Jon Snow in icon of rectitude the world over. Und it’s make Harington — who on-screen connection with Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen was belastung season’s surprise twist — into among ns most speculated-about stern on Earth, as fans wait zum the show’s april 14 return to seen if Jon will das (again), claim die crown, or something in between.

All of which has presented Harington with two sorts of pressure in his career: first, finding out to direkt up to ns expectations of fan as the ethik center von “Thrones,” and then, defying those expectations as he sets a course toward coming to be something more facility than simply in icon. “I’m notfall really driven von wanting to play heroes best now,” that says. “Every script ich read punkt the moment is about characters who room deeply failure and an some ways antiheroes. And that doesn’t necessarily go in addition to my casting, so it’s going kommen sie take a bit von work to fight against that.” but give Harington this: after ~ years des filming the battle bolzen good and evil, he to know how zu put trost a fight.

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Before he kann be totally post-“Thrones,” Harington has kommen sie get through die airing des the eighth season — sechs final episodes that promise zu set the internet ablaze top top Sunday nights this spring. “They walk balls out, ich think zu sein the term,” Harington says des Season 8. “They could have easily set the same budget plan as they did zum Season 7, however they walk bigger.” Harington believes the a reason zum the increased scope of an already cool show was kommen sie “establish that HBO kann sein do this” before a future spinoff. Outgoing network CEO richard Plepler tells range that die planned prequel series, set kommen sie star naomi Watts, is “something special. Us weren’t just trying to re-engineer die genes des what ‘Game von Thrones’ was, but we had actually a fresh, interesting perspective the didn’t let die franchise walk away.”

Plepler’s decision to greenlight “Thrones” helped cement HBO’s place as TV’s many artistically ambitious outlet; as it concludes, he has announced his leave from die network, which has actually been reorganized under bei umbrella led by robert Greenblatt ~ its purchase von AT&T. Ns show ist now, among its various other distinctions, a bridge betwee HBO’s past and whatever will be that future. Programming president Casey Bloys, who’s continuing to be at ns network, states via e-mails that “Thrones” is both a beneficial part des HBO’s brochure — “I’m sure that when george R.R. Martin has die final two publications published, there wollen be a surge of interest from fans wanting to lakers it again” — and grist zum that spinoff, which that says wollen begin shoot this summer. “We hope ‘Game von Thrones’ will oase a lang life punkt HBO,” the adds.

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With the stärke to define ns prestige-network pecking order and the balance-sheet impact zu necessitate a speedy comeback, “Thrones” ist the many scrutinized show an the world. And Harington is among those applying die scrutiny. He watches each new episode alone, and he so has gone back und referenced previous scenes in order kommen sie situate his performance follow me Jon’s long bewegt arc. What that has found hasn’t always pleased him. “Looking back at ns entirety of ‘Thrones,’ there’ll it is in 70% of the scenes that I’ll nur never be happy with. I’ve come to terms with that.” ns upcoming eighth season stood for something des a breakthrough. “I know who this zu sein now, und I’m at frieden with that this is. Ich just gott a emotion that it’s die most satisfied ich will be v my arbeiten as Jon Snow.”

Jon isn’t easy to play: that stands for powerful and resonant ideas — loyalty, doggedness, grit — but he doesn’t, momente to moment, get numerous fun lines. Duty und bombast don’t tend to coexist. Harington notes that his and Clarke’s roles are uniquely challenging on a show whose supporting players steal scenes: “We’re ns two young female und male leads, und there’s going zu be an ext pressure top top those parts. They’re notfall your Joffreys; they’re not dafür showy. Und there was a sort des feeling an me, bei the middle des when the show was going on: ‘I’d love some sort des character thing.’”

Reading reviews — which Harington swore off approximately Season 3, at the momente the show leveled hoch from hit kommen sie mega-smash — fixed helped. He looks at drücken sie on every little thing else he does, und his face grows intense, his moustache furrowing, as he recalls die early coverage of “Thrones.” “My memory is always ‘the boring Jon Snow.’ and that gott to me after ~ a while, because ich was like, ‘I love him. He’s mine and I liebe playing him.’ Some von those words that were said around it stuck bei my craw about er being much less entertaining, much less showy.”


As ns series’ political chaos grew much more urgent, though, Jon’s gravity came zu feel prefer what the nur had been about all along. He was Emmy-nominated zum his sixth-season power that consisted of “Battle of the Bastards,” a technically complex episode in which Jon do the efforts to rettung members von his family und faced under a nemesis together ruthless together Jon is soulfully earnest. “I jetzt look back and I go, well, i was a f—ing integral part des that totality thing,” Harington says. “Jon was, and I am, and I’m proud von it. It take it me a long time to notfall think, I’m die worst thing an this.”

Criticism on the scale the “Game des Thrones” elicits would certainly be jarring for any actor. But this was Harington’s erste screen role; the nur debuted wie man he was 24, ~ he had actually attended dramatisch school bei London und originated the lead role an the West ende production des “War Horse.”

“Kit und I are counterparts in terms von experience,” Clarke says. “We room pretty viel the very same age, and our characters have had parallel journeys, and we together actors schutz had parallel journeys. We’ve both excellent stupid activity movies we regret and fabulous dinge we’re proud of, und we’ve always come rückseitig to ‘Thrones.’ und he’s the person I’d ask, ‘How are you handling this? Are you all right?’ we were in sync, even if we were filming on the opposite sides des the world.”

Eventually, ns two came together kommen sie shoot Jon and Daenerys’ slow-burn Season 7 romance: “The first scene we had together,” Clarke admits, “we both just started laughing. Why are you looking at me this weird way und saying this strange lines? You’re mine friend!” (She recalls that Harington would certainly pretend kommen sie retch during their scenes: “Oh, mine God, mate. You’re notfall making this any kind of easier!”)

Harington has, like Clarke und those who play his on-screen siblings, come into adulthood in front des a huge audience. And that’s to be attended von growing pains. Wie man “Thrones” began, he was a part of in ensemble that included notfall only veterans like peter Dinklage und Lena Headey but so a large complement des green performers. The ensemble effect helped make ns experience less intimidating at zuerst — yet later, wie man Jon relocated to die center von the “Thrones” narrative, anxieties that had actually been deferred leaped forward. “My darkest period was when the nur seemed kommen sie become so much about Jon, wie man he died and came back,” Harington says. “I yes, really didn’t like the focus des the whole show coming onto Jon — even though it was invalidating my problem about being the weak link because jene were about Jon.”

Harington had, von the time of Jon’s death and resurrection a year later, been associated with “Thrones” zum five years; fan interactions were nothing new. But the spotlight was intense. “When you become ns cliffhanger von a TV show, und a TV show probably at ns height von its power, the focus top top you ist f—ing terrifying,” he says. While Harington’s character had actually putatively been killed in the fifth-season finale, the actor was spotted bei Belfast, die show’s base of operations, through that familiar, burdensome set des curls. (Heavy zu sein the head that wears them.) “You get human being shouting at you on ns street, ‘Are freundin dead?’ At ns same time you oase to have this appearance. All of your neuroses — und I’m together neurotic as any actor — obtain heightened with that level des focus.”

The mania was deswegen pitched the network head Plepler recalls then-President Obama asking er at a zustand dinner if Jon was really dead. (“Mr. President, even your security clearance isn’t high enough to give you the answer to that,” Plepler replied.)

Though all the attention reflect concern zum the personality Harington had built, it also made weil das something much more than a professional challenge. “It wasn’t a very an excellent time an my life,” that says. “I felt i had zu feel that ich was the most fortunate person an the world, when actually, ich felt really vulnerable. Ich had a shaky time an my life approximately there — like i think a gewächs of civilization do in their 20s. That was a time when ich started therapy, and started talking zu people. Ich had felt an extremely unsafe, und I wasn’t talking zu anyone. I had zu feel an extremely grateful for what ich have, but i felt very concerned about whether ich could even f—ing act.”

“I take it off the costume, and it felt choose my skin was being peeled away. I was really emotional. The felt favor someone was shedding me von something.”Kit Harington, top top his last day of shooting as Jon Snow

The experience, after 5 years of gradually enhancing fame, adjusted Harington’s outlook. “It’s like wie you’re weist a party, und the party’s acquiring better and better. Then sie reach this point des the splitter linterparty where you’re like, it’s peaked. I don’t know what i could find more from this. Sie realize, well, there isn’t more. This ist it. Und the ‘more’ that you kann find zu sein actually in the work rather than the enjoyment surrounding it.”

The public adulation that comes through playing Jon eye reaches the high point one Saturday night at ns stage door outside ns Vaudeville Theatre, whereby Harington and co-star johnny Flynn oase been portraying ns rivalrous brothers an “True West.” A tidy queue has formed, waiting for the stern to emerge. Eventually, passersby notice the line and the posters on the theater’s exterior walls. “It’s ns guy from ns show, isn’t it?” one observer remarks. “The guy who dram Snow!” von the time Harington emerges, ns crowd has actually swelled zu about 70, an impressive post-performance turnout zum a theatre with only 690 seats. Ns crowd has actually spilled off the sidewalk, avoiding a lane of traffic. Fan who may not even have known Harington was in a play punkt all run across die street and push one another kommen sie get closer — drawn, perhaps, by the fleeting glimpses des the actor that space available betwee iPhone flashes.

Harington explains himself as “awkward and English. I’m not going to kommen sie out und go” — below he feigns bei American accent a bit like die one he does in “True West” — “‘Hey guys, how you doing!’ I am just a bloke und not one who ist particularly good hinweisen a lot of attention.” the production locations von “Thrones,” often much from civilization und always well-secured, space as gotten rid of from this sort von pandemonium as it gets, and it kann feel as though Harington’s entrées into ns world of celebrity leave ihm yearning zu get back to set. John Bradley, that as Samwell Tarly share scenes as part von the Night’s Watch v Harington, recalls that “we to be 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik, on top des a glacier in the middle of nowhere. We can be uncomfortable together, und we can talk about die cold, und we can make each other laugh — die fact that we had each other there do everything deswegen much easier.”

On set, Bradley says, “he knows die responsibility he has and he knows that it’s hoch to ihm whether us get the shot ~ above camera or not — everybody’s working as tough as castle can, however if he’s not working, die shot möchte be wasted. He knows die responsibility punkt all times, and he to know how zu keep a very happy crew. He sets the example des hard work that influence absolutely everyone on that set.”