Published on March 18th, 2016 | by Admin
Kit Harrington Interview (Jon Snow, Game of Thrones Season 5)
Where did we leave Jon Snow at the end of Season Four?
Jon had been through the battle and watched his girlfriend die in his arms, he had seen many of his friends die and he had frankly survived a battle that he didn’t think they were going to win so he had looked death in the face again and survived. Where he was going was to find Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) where he was definitely looking death in the face. He felt that his job was to kill Mance and die a horrible death. So the fact that he has come out of all of that and that he is still alive and back at Castle Black is amazing. You know, he has come through it and that’s where we begin with him in Season Five.
So what’s in store in Season Five?
He has a new person to deal with and he has politics to play. He has Stannis to deal with and he has Davos to deal with and Melisandre too and he has Mance Rayder as a prisoner and something has to be done with him and the Wildlings. And the difference with Jon now is that whereas in the past he would have listened to advice – from Commander Mormont or from Mance Rayder, from whoever – and he would have absorbed that advice, now there’s a big change in him where he is given advice by Stannis and he actively resists it. He doesn’t want to take it and he fights against it and it’s Jon starting to play politics and starting to become his own man.
Stannis wants to go to Winterfell and Jon resists that?
Yes, and in typical Jon fashion because I think a lot of the audience will be saying ‘go, go, find your brother…’ It’s like in the first season when you really wanted him to go and kill Joffrey and to fight but it’s not the right thing. And going to Winterfell is not the right thing and he knows that; all of his instincts tell him that it’s wrong. In the past if he’d done what he wanted to do he could have stayed with Ygritte, they could have run off and found a cottage somewhere and he could have forsaken everything and lived a beautiful, calm life. And so if he turned that down he is not going to take up Stannis’s offer and it’s actually a pretty simple decision for him. He considers it, because it’s something he has always wanted, to be Jon Stark. His job is with the Night’s Watch and he knows he will only survive a little while with the hordes of White Walkers attacking.
In season five you have a new group of actors – Liam Cunningham (Davos), Carice van Houten (Melisandre) and Stephen Dillane (Stannis) – in the mix. Has that been exciting?
Season Five was great. I missed Rose Leslie (Ygritte) this year – I had such a great three years working alongside her and we had a great time. And to be honest, I thought I was going to be ‘oh woe is me..’ hist season because some of the actors I’ve worked with for years wouldn’t be there this time but you know, I’ve known Stephen, Liam and Carice for years now even though we hadn’t worked together before. And I’d admired their work. And people ask you ‘what are the storylines you follow?’ And one of my favourites was their storyline. So to have them come into ours was very exciting creatively. We’ve got such a bond at the Wall and it’s well known that our group of lads up there, for whatever reason, we get along the best – we’re really good friends. So to have this influx of new people come in was a bit like ‘is it going to work?’ Andit really did. Liam is great fun and Stephen is a really great guy and Carice is just brilliant and adorable and
I love her and so we actually had about three people die who were replaced by three people who were just as wonderful. So I loved making Season Five. As a friendship experience and a behind the scenes experience it was great and I also had more screen time and more dates on the calendar. This was the first year I actually had more dates on the calendar than Peter Dinklage. It was mainly because of a certain sequence.
David and Dan have had to move away from the books with certain storylines. Do you think that they have that balance right?
I find it harder to answer that question this year because I haven’t read book Five and that’s basically where we are so I don’t know what book Five is. I’ve only read the first 4. I think they do have to differ more and more from the books in creating the TV show and I now don’t think of it as a re-telling of the book – the
TV series is its own thing and it’s an idea based around George Martin’s wonderful books, but ‘based around’ is the best way of putting it I think. And if you have read the books and are fanatical about the books and really feel like it should be told the way the books are told, then I urge you to go and try and write it that way because it’s not very easy to do an exact adaptation and two of the best screenwriters in Hollywood right now know that and they are doing the best that they can to bring this story, that they love, to life. And frankly, it annoys me when lovers of the books really pin down and hate the TV show because I think ‘well, why are you watching it? If you realise, by now, that this isn’t line for line the books you love on screen, this is an idea of the book, then stop watching it and just enjoy the books. No one is asking you to watch it.’ It cannot be done, I don’t think, as an exact re-telling and therefore you are not going to get that exact re-telling anywhere else – this is the closest you are going to get and if you want to enjoy it as an adaptation, great, if you don’t want to stick with the books and no one is going to blame you for that.
Making Game of Thrones has been a huge part of your adult life. What’s that been like for you?
Yes, it’s been six years, including the pilot. So yes, it’s been a huge part of my life. I was out of drama school for a year and then I started Thrones. And yes, it’s taken over my life in many ways. I would say I am a well-known actor now but I’m well known primarily for one thing. I’ve done lots of other things and I continue to enjoy the variety of work that I’m allowed to do because of Thrones in some ways. But by the time I’ll finish this I’ll still be a young actor. It’s hard to answer what it’s been like because I’m still in it and in a lot of ways, it’s hard to take yourself back to a place where you weren’t in it. I find parts of this life difficult to deal with.
The fame that it’s brought you?
Yes, I’m not very good at being in the public eye, actually, I’m not that type of person. It genuinely isn’t what I got into it for. There are desirable bits and then there are bits of it that I really don’t like. But it’s all balanced up by the fact that I’m part of this thing that is making TV history, it’s in the zeitgeist, it’s an amazing TV show that I love and I would never give that up because of some of the more undesirable side affects that come with it. I’m financially incredibly stable now. I don’t believe in God, but I thank my lucky stars every night before I go to bed, I really do, because I’m in a very advantageous position as a young man and any complaints I have around that is what I get paid for. I get paid very well to lose my privacy and my anonymity and I do the acting for free.
Because there are so many different storylines it must be fun for you to watch what’s happening with the other characters that don’t interact with Jon Snow at this point?
This was the first year when I didn’t read the scripts. I only read my bits because I’m up to a place where a lot of what was written for this season from Book Five and I haven’t read Book Five and I wanted to watch it as a fan. And it’s changed so much from the books, too, that I thought it would be interesting if I didn’t know what was going to happen. So I spent this whole season in the bar with my fingers in my ears while other people talked about it. I avoided all the spoilers, I know bits of what happens but I don’t know all of it, so I’m looking forward to watching it.
Do you watch it with friends?
No, I watch it on my own. I never watch it with other people. It’s like I watch films I’m in on my own, I always ask for a private screening because I’ve made the mistake of watching a film that I’m in for the first time surrounded by people and I can’t concentrate on the work, I can’t concentrate on the end product, all I’m thinking about is my family, friends, the audience, surrounding me. And I like being isolated. I like seeing it on my own. I don’t like watching my own stuff.
Did you succeed in not finding out too much about what happens in Season Five?
Yes. I heard some of the major plot lines because it was hard to avoid those.
Maybe you over heard some conversations in the green room?
(Laughs). A green room! We’ve been asking for one of those for years. No, it’s the bar where you hear the chat. Because you want to know what your fellow cast members have been up to and they go ‘well, we didthis scene…’ So some of it slipped through but generally I can’t piece it together as a season. So what will be interesting is if it’s unpopular as a season and everyone hates it and I’m there going ‘this is great!’ And I’ll know I’ll love the other ones even more.
Do you have favourite characters who you look out for?
Yeah, I do. And last season I really loved Rory (McCann) who plays The Hound. I thought he smashed it out of the ball park. The Hound was always a character I’d been intrigued by in the books and I’d always liked what Rory was doing with it and last year I absolutely loved it and one of my favourite scenes in the whole thing came right at the end of season four when he is with Arya (Maisie Williams) who is another favourite of mine. And I really like Bran’s storyline too. There are lots I like. I like Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) a lot too. It’s full of great characters.
Does George R.R. Martin come on set?
Yes, he does come to the set every year but we mainly see him at publicity things especially when we go to the States where it’s easier for him and he has to write so he has to be at home a lot. He is incredibly busy and he was there on set more at the start overseeing the way things looked and making sure that it lived out there the way that it lived in his head and giving it his ‘tick’ of approval. And now that he knows it works he can detach himself and go and do what he does, which is write, and not get distracted by the TV show. And in some ways, it’s not his business because it’s his own thing and he can go back to the books. He gave it his blessing and he will like some of it and maybe not like other bits as much, a bit like the book lovers, but he has given it his blessing and he really works well with (show runners) David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss) and he now knows that he is on a kind of separate path from the show but also intrinsically interlinked with it. I’ll know him forever. He’s a lovely man; he’s incredibly intelligent, very funny and sweet. He’s very eccentric and you would be excused in thinking, ‘I could get something by this guy…’ but you can’t (laughs). He is so intelligent and a great writer.
Have you ever kept any souvenirs from the show?
No, and I’m an idiot because if I’d thought about that I would have taken things from season one when they might have let you have them (laughs). Now, there’s no chance. I think there was a problem this year with people taking things – and who knows who they were – and it’s not on because the show is so expensive and those things have to be replaced. But if I could I would have my sword – whether they would give it to me I don’t know. I keep putting my two pence worth in with Tommy (Dunne, weapons master) because that’s just the one thing I would love. It’s lived with me forever. Maybe the cloak would be good but actually Longclaw, the sword, would be wonderful. It’s so beautifully made. There are three types – there’s what’s called the ‘hero’ sword, which is made of steel, an aluminium one and a rubber version. The hero sword is heavy as hell and would take some hefting, so you don’t fight with that one. I’ve swung it around a bit and it’s actually useful to do that and remind myself of how heavy it really is because you can get very used to the aluminium but when you pick up the hero sword you are reminded that these swords are incredibly heavy and they bounce off each other and if you are using one hand you really have to heft it round. And then you have the aluminium ones which you fight with, which are much lighter, and so you have to put the weight back into it. And there are the rubber ones which you use for something like say, the stuntman is wearing padding and you have to slice him and that’s when you use the rubber sword.
Any accidents along the way?
Loads but only minor; cuts and bruises. I’m constantly seeing the physiotherapist and getting massages because it takes its toll. In Season Five, episode eight was particularly demanding because it was three and a half weeks of solid fighting and running and jumping and you know that at the end of those three and a half weeks you have to be at the same level of fitness as you were at the start because you are not filming in sequence. So you can’t be crippled by the end and you really have to look after yourself. And there’s a tendency to say, ‘I can do that stunt, I can do that jump…’ and the stuntman will say ‘no, we’re going to do this one..’ Although that is rare, most of the stunts are me.
Do you enjoy that physical side of it?
Oh yeah, absolutely. I enjoy it more than the dialogue heavy stuff because weirdly I don’t think Jon likes talking. I don’t think he likes the politics and I don’t think he likes the deep and meaningful conversations or the advice he gets. What he likes is what he has been brought up to do, what he’s been driven to do, and that’s fighting; he likes fighting for good and he likes heroics and that’s where he really talks. I remember episode 9 of season four where he comes down in the lift at the Wall and we wanted to show this man who has been caged for ages and ages rolling out of the lift and slicing everybody and suddenly he is alive again. He is this very internal, quiet man of very few words and yet put a sword in his hand and he comes alive. And I really like that.
Death is a huge part of Game of Thrones but Jon Snow has suffered loss more than most – his father, brother, the woma n he loved, Ygritte, his mentors at the Wall. Is that a big part of playing him now?
He is constantly grieving. He is grieving his mother – he has never had a mother and he has been treated like shit, being the black sheep, so he is in a constant state, I think, of grief and mourning and everything that has happened so far – losing his father, his brother, his uncle, Commander Mormant – and then losing Ygritte, the woman that he was most close to in his whole life, he is a man who has been grieving virtually his whole life. People ask me ‘why is he so sad? Why is he so down? Why is he so upset?’ Well, think about it. If you look at the time period when all of this happens in real time it’s not very long, we shot over six years but in real time it’s about a year so you look at all of that and he is not in a good place. And he lives completely internally and is getting more and more trapped inside himself and the scene we never see with him – and I often think about this – is him lying in bed at night thinking and that’s when his demons get him. I don’t think he has great cause to be happy – not many people in this story do (laughs).
Who do you think will win the Iron Throne in the end?
Good question (laughs). I think it’s between three – Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) or Littlefinger (Aiden Gillan), the latter if you wanted to go really dark (laughs). I think it could be Littlefinger and Varys (Coneith Hill) sitting on the throne at the end and everyone else is dead!