Has an actor in recent years become so identified with the character that made him than Kit Harington? As Jon Snow, the earnest warrior of the North in the epic TV series Game of Thrones, Harington has become synonymous with the modern, dashing image of a fantasy hero, his long, sweeping black hair and handsome features endearing him to millions of male and female viewers alike as a romantic ideal.
Harington was born Christopher Catesby Harington in Acton, West London, on Boxing Day in 1986, to Deborah Jane (a former playwright) and Sir David Harington, 15th Baronet. His mother named him after famed playwright Christopher Marlowe while on his father’s side, Kit can trace a noble historic lineage all the way back to 17th century British monarch, King Charles II. The Baronet’s of his family even have their own coat of arms, a bloodline you wouldn’t outwardly expect from an actor who has become known for extolling fairly working man virtues (though, in fairness, he is probably a King in waiting in Game of Thrones, so this is all probably appropriate!).
Acting came to him upon being inspired at age 14 while watching a performance of the famed Samuel Beckett play, Waiting for Godot, leading him to take on several school productions before, at the age of 17, he was inspired to attend drama school after watching a performance of Hamlet by none other than future movie and TV star alumni Ben Whishaw. Harington graduated the Central School of Speech and Drama, walking pretty swiftly into his Game of Thrones breakthrough role; though it wasn’t his first moment of recognition. That came while still at drama school, appearing in the role of Albert in Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse being performed at the National Theatre, which won two Olivier Awards.
Though he could have become a theatre darling almost immediately, Harington instead knew enough to take a chance on the role of Jon Snow, immediately striking a chord in what would steadily become television’s biggest TV show of the 2010’s (and arguably the most ambitious TV show ever made. Game of Thrones has given Harington a world of opportunities it would take other actors decades to garner; Saturn and Emmy Award nominations in 2012 and 2016 respectively, film roles in pictures such as Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, Paul WS Anderson’s Pompeii, TV cinematic spin-off Spooks: The Greater Good, even voice roles in How to Train Your Dragon 2 and as the villain in video game Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in 2016.
Harington is now in the position to command one of the biggest pay checks in TV (roughly two million dollars per episode of Game of Thrones – so seasons seven and eight between them will have made Kit roughly a cool twenty-six million), balancing film roles with his main starring part to increase his stature both on the big and small screen, and equally maintain a key role in modern popular culture given his meme-worthy role as the King in the North. Brimstone drops this week, while early in November sees him play the role of his ancestor Robert Catesby no less in Gunpowder, a BBC One drama about the well-known story of Guy Fawkes’ attempted Gunpowder Plot.
What of Harington’s future? Game of Thrones’ final season will see him finally able to move on from Jon Snow, a role which will surely stay with him for the rest of his career, but will he continue playing the kind of brooding, romantic action hero parts which he has largely built his career so far on? Or will he push into new territory and deepen his range? Appearing in a Xavier Dolan film coming soon, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, could go someway to help in that regard, but it’ll be interesting to see if Harington can ever truly escape the shadow of Snow, or in the end his career choices will mean he knows nothing.
What is your favourite Kit Harington performance? What do you think he should do after Game of Thrones? Let us know!