It’s a few days before the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January and Kit Harington is exhausted as he arrives at NBC.
The British actor, who has so eloquently brought to life Jon Snow in HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” has been running around getting ready for the ceremony, taking meetings and knocking out interviews.
Despite his admission he didn’t quite achieve a full night’s sleep last night, he peps up quickly as the cool air of the Access Hollywood studio on the NBC lot hits his skin, which offers just a hint of a sun kissed glow.
Fast paced days like today are becoming a regular occurrence for the early 20-something since his portrayal of Ned Stark’s illegitimate son won him the admiration of fans of not just of great television, but from lovers of George R.R. Martin’s book series.
As he told AccessHollywood.com a year ago, during a phone call from the set of “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” in Canada, he had just one major credit to his name – an appearance in the stage version of “War Horse” – when he landed the role of Jon.
“What I do remember from getting the audition is just going, ‘Right! I really want this one,’ and luckily for me it was three auditions and I got it and I was over the moon,” he told Access at the time.
A year after Access first named Kit a Rising Star, he’s being courted by fashion and lifestyle magazines, and landing parts in Hollywood films like “The Seventh Son,” with Julianne Moore and Oscar winner Jeff Bridges. He’s also ready for Jon Snow’s next chapter in Season 2 of “Game of Thrones.”
In the sixth installment in AccessHollywood.com’s weekly “GOT” countdown Q&A series, our own Laura Saltman sat down with Kit to find out just what happens next for Jon, who fans last saw on horseback, joining his brothers in the Night’s Watch on a journey beyond The Wall.
AccessHollywood.com’s Laura Saltman: “Game of Thrones” returns on April 1. Is that a good day?
Kit Harington: Yeah, yeah it is. It’s classic prank day in England.
Laura: It’s no joke the fans love this show… Do you — now that it’s such a huge success — feel a sense, as part of the show, not to spoil everything for the fans?
Kit: Yeah, I mean it’s quite a tricky one, because obviously, it’s based on books, so you don’t know what you can say and can’t say. Some people have read the books… and a lot of people haven’t and they’re just following the TV show. So, you just kind of step carefully about what you can and can’t say.
Laura: What I’ve heard, is there’s a bigger storyline for [Jon Snow]. There’s going to be even more of him in Season 2.
Kit: There is. He’s got such an isolated storyline. He’s so separated from the rest of the story, a bit like Daenery’s [Emilia Clarke’s] part is. You’ve got these kinds of three sections to the story, but he’s very separated from it. But he gets to do some really, kind of crazy, cool stuff in the second season and… he doesn’t really stick to the rest of the storyline, as it were. He kind of goes off in his own way.
Laura: Last we saw, he was heading off toward The Wall. Will we pick up right from that moment in Season 2?
Kit: He’s going North of The Wall. He’s got to The Wall and he’s decided that they have to tackle various obstacles that lie beyond The Wall, so he’s going off and doing that, so he has to forsake everything…his brother’s commitments, his father’s death, his family — he puts that all behind him and he kind of concentrates on the bigger picture, which is what may or may not be lying in that wilderness, sort of beyond The Wall.
Laura: So one of the things when you go beyond The Wall is we’re looking for Benjen [Stark]. So are we going to find him?
Kit: I won’t tell you, but obviously, that’s one of Jon’s priorities… He’s lost his father and he’s going beyond The Wall to try and find his uncle. He needs some sort of — some family member — to survive, really. So, yeah, he is going to look for him and that is a priority for him, but whether he finds him or not, you have to wait and see.
Laura: For people who don’t know, what is a ‘wildling’ ‘cause we’ve only seen like one? Will we see more?
Kit: You will see more. They play a big part of my storyline in the second season. They’re basically free folk or free people who live beyond The Wall and don’t kind of abide [by] any sort of king or realm as it were. And they [are] cut off by The Wall, and so you don’t see much of them in the first season, but Jon interacts with them a lot in the second season. They’re kind of – I mean, we see Osha in the first season, who, you get a feeling for what the wildings are. They’re very kind of ‘wild,’ as it were.
Laura: Hence the name.
Kit: Hence the name, yeah. And they kind of — they live with the fear of these other things, which are The Others and the White Walkers. They know the dangers that lie beyond The Wall better than the people who live South, so that’s what Jon goes and learns really.
Laura: Will we see more of the White Walkers in Season 2?
Kit: You will. They play a part. They do.
Laura: So more of those two mysterious things that were kind of set up in the first season. It’s kind of like the Smoke Monster from ‘Lost’?
Kit: It is, yeah… I always think they look a bit like Predator. You know, a bit… They’re kind of like ice Predators.
Laura: Was it different filming Season 2 because you had done Season 1 and you knew it had been a global success?
Kit: Yeah, it was…. The first season — no one really knew how it would go down. It’s so — it is very different from anything that’s done on TV at the moment and so we didn’t know whether it would be well received or not… When it was, it was such a boost. I was terrified [originally]. I had sleepless nights before the first season came out.
Kit: Yeah. It was such a long process from pilot to the season coming out, that when it actually did air, I never thought it would happen. So yeah, Season 2, I’m just really excited about. I’m not scared about it anymore. It’s been well received and I think Season 2 is gonna be really epic.
Laura: And this was really like your first major thing… so how has your life changed then since the first season came out?
Kit: I suppose it creeps up on you. You don’t realize it’s happening, but all I’ve felt so far is like huge positivity from people who meet you and say, ‘Oh, I watch the show. I really like it.’ I‘ve had no bad experiences with it so far.
Laura: Have you had any celebrities come up to you at the Emmys?
Kit: Yeah, that’s the weirdest thing.
Laura: Who has come up to you?
Kit: So I had Seth Green come up to me at Comic-Con…
Laura: ‘Robot Chicken!’
Kit: Yeah! And he was raving about the show to me, and it was so bizarre because I grew up watching ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Austin Powers,’ and obviously he’s in ‘Family Guy,’ and he’s done lots of my favorite things, so I [got] kind of a bit dumbstruck when I met him. And I had the guys from ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,’ which is one of my favorite shows… I met them at a party out here… We had a bit of a ‘love in.’ It was like, ‘No! I love your show!’ ‘No! I love your show!’
Laura: We have a Kit [here at Access] – Kit Hoover.
Kit: There’s always one.
Laura: Your real name is Christopher – so where did Kit come from?
Kit: Kit was, I think… the priest who married my parents was called Kit and I think they kind of just really liked him and his name, so that’s where it came from. I didn’t know my name was Christopher until I was 11 and I was at school and you have to fill out these entrance exams to see what set you’re in and I put down Kit Harington and they went, ‘That’s not your name!’ And [I said], ‘I think I’d know.’ And they went, ‘No, your name’s Christopher.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ So I went home and had a stern talk with my mum.
Laura: So it was on your birth certificate, but they never used it?
Kit: Yeah, because your mum carries your passport the whole time. So I never knew my name was Christopher. I had this kind of weird moment when I was 11, like, ‘Who am I? What is my name?’ I had to think, ‘Am I Chris? Am I Christopher?’ And I’d been called Kit up until that point.
Laura: So if you’re walking down the street and someone yells ‘Chris! Christopher!’ you wouldn’t even turn around?
Kit: No. I’d make a point of not turning around. I’d keep just keep walking, like, ‘Don’t call me that.’
“Game of Thrones” Season 2 returns April 1 at 9 PM on HBO. To read AccessHollywood.com’s other interviews in our countdown series (Liam Cunningham, Daniel Portman, Alfie Allen, Rory McCann and Tom Wlaschiha) click HERE.
-- Interview by Laura Saltman, intro by Jolie Lash