TV shows don’t get any more violent, sex-filled and treacherous than HBO’s epic Game of Thrones. They also don’t get any more Northern. Brit powerhouse Sean Bean heads up a stellar cast of old and new Northern faces who spend the majority of the show’s ballsy first series prepping for a bloody-battle with the South. With the show available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray as of today, we caught up with famous face Kit Harington, AKA the valiant warrior and bastard son Jon Snow, for a quick chat. Check out the Q+A below where Kit talks about the challenges of playing Jon, the physical demands that came with the role and even spills some titillating details of what we can expect when the show returns this spring…
What originally attracted you to the role of Jon Snow?
I think it was two and half years ago that I got the pilot through and it’s weird now thinking about reading it because I know what happens in the story and I know Jon’s story, but when I originally read it it was quite a bizarre script and it took some getting your head around but initially the character was all there and I was just attracted to it from the word go. It was just one of those scripts where you go ‘I can do this and I want to do this’ and you get excited by it and it was a HBO script which I was also pretty excited about.
The books have been out for a while. Was it harder going into the project knowing Jon’s character arc?
Yeah, I mean I love how we have source materials to work from, I love the fact that there’s these books behind the series. Some people don’t want to know where there character goes or know anything about the original source material but I loved it. I had it all there in a book in front of me, so I poured over the book for a long time trying to figure him out. But yeah, there’s a point when you can rely on the original material too much and you have to look at the script more and just try to focus on where he is in the first series at the start of the story.
So yeah, it had its issues but at the same time I think it was useful to refer back to George’s (RR Martin, Author) books and try to get an interpretation that’s good for a TV script and an interpretation that’s for the book. They can be slightly different at times but if you put the two together you come up with your own take on him.
Series one hints that Jon is destined for big things. Does this add pressure on your portrayal of him?
I think it’s more exciting than anything else. Again, when I read that first pilot, even having not read the books you could see he has that mystery about him. There’s the question of his mother, he was singled out from his family as the bastard child and he finds this white wolf as appose to all these other wolves. So there’s that thing about him that sets him apart slightly and of course as the series goes on he goes off and has his own story arc and it does feel like there’s bigger things to come from him and I think there is. He has a great story but as far as the pressure goes I just like it. I like that there’s a lot riding on him but there is pressure in that there are fans out there who know who he is and have big ideas about what he is and what he should be so it’s about trying to live up to those expectations and also maintain a mystery about him and an excitement about him but not get too far ahead of yourself so you’ve got an arc to carry on with. So not a whole load of pressure, I just enjoy it.
It looks like quite a physical role, did you enjoy that side of things?
I always really enjoyed sword fighting at drama school and I love stage fighting and if I can do a stunt in the show I want to do it myself, if they’ll let me and I’m insured to do it. Sometimes you just can’t do everything, but yeah all the sword fighting we did and all the horse riding…I’d never ridden a horse before so that was a new thing for me. I find with the physical work you lose yourself far easier because you’re not trying to think as much you just kind of go with it. I enjoyed getting into the thick of it.
How loyal is it to the second novel?
The original idea was that the first book is the first series, the second book is the second series and so on. That’s still the case but it’s always going to be an adaptation, so the writers are making clear that. Whereas the first book is the first series, it drifts, there are blurred lines between the books and the TV series and that will continue to happen. So bits of the third book will bleed into the second and so on and it may get more adapative at it goes on but that’s how you have to do it if you want to make a thrilling TV series as well as staying true to the books. You have to make sure people know it’s an adaptation rather than a strict telling and there are more added scenes that weren’t in the books and there’s more scenes that have been taken away and characters that have been taken away. We come out with a nice middle ground hopefully.
What’s in store for Jon in season 2?
At the end of season one we see that he’s definitely not going to join The Fray down with his brother and down South where all the political turmoil’s going on and the wars are happening. We see that he’s heading out North beyond The Wall. So his story gets more and more isolated from the rest of the story whereas in the first season we did see him interact with his family and his brother, now he’s further away from that. It was stranger this season because it was almost like we were doing this separate TV series. It’s a bit like Viserys story line across the Narrow Sea, where two very separate stories go on.
Season one had loads of sex and violence, does season 2 top that?
Yeah, it does. I thought that and then I read the end of episode one. It gets really dark, of course before it was dark but now we’re going into war and what war and battle means in this world and it’s a whole new thing. Before you had battles and incest and you had some really graphic sex scenes, anyone who was offended by the first season really isn’t going to enjoy the second. I’m not sure if it gets worse, it just carries on very much in the same vein. It’s a very graphic world, it’s a graphic novel that George has written and we wanted to be true to that and make this world as vivid and as shocking as we could and it carries on. There’s more sex, there’s more violence, there’s more blood!
Is there anything in particular from season two that you’d tell fans to look out for?
Yeah, without spoiling any particular scene because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read the books. Essentially all of my stuff was filmed in Iceland and we were filming in such stunning locations whereas before things were shot in Belfast. Any snowy area we had to fake snow, any big land mark was CGI – this is all real and that’s why I’m really excited about my part of the storyline in the second season. We were on location the whole time, there was no studio stuff at all. So I think the things you can look forward to are Jon finally gets to meet a girl, she’s an actress called Rose Leslie and she’s fantastic. There’s a whole host of new actors who come on across the board during the show like Stephen Dillane and Carice Van Houten that you’re going to be able to invest in new characters, while you lost Sean Bean you’ve now got Stephen Dillane, it’s a new story from the start. It asks you to invest in a whole host of new characters but from what I’ve heard and what I know they do a terrific job and it’s going to be very exciting.
Words and interview by Simon Bland.