20 Things You Didn’t Know About Kit Harington
Kit Harington is an English actor who just so happens to be one of the stars of Game of Thrones, the hit HBO fantasy series. He won the role of bastard-born ‘King in the North’ Jon Snow after starring in a West End production of War Horse as Albert Narracott in 2008. Since then, Kit has become one of the most recognisable faces in entertainment – he’s earned millions of dollars and won rave reviews for his performance as Jon Snow.
As well as writing and starring in the BBC historical thriller Gunpowder, Harington has racked up a number of different theatre and movie projects in between filming for Game of Thrones. He’s also married to his former cast mate Rose Leslie, who famously appeared on the HBO series as Ygritte, Jon’s wildling lover. Scroll down the article to find out what terrifies him the most, plus we reveal which popular TV series he absolutely hates.
20. He used to work in a bookshop (and hated carrying George R.R. Martin books around)
Harington once told Interview magazine that he used to work in a bookshop as a youngster, during which time the actor grew to hate George R.R. Martin. Why? Well, it was Kit’s job to lug around all of those heavy A Song of Ice and Fire books.
Harington explained: “I remember cursing him. I couldn’t stand that I was constantly having to carry down and replace all these f*cking books.” The reason being that Martin’s books were so enormously popular: “I’d fill up the shelves and they’d sell out in a day!” Fun fact: Harington’s favourite book of all time is George Orwell’s seminal dystopian science fiction novel, 1984.
19. He was once temporarily paralysed from the waist down
Aside from Game of Thrones, Harington has been involved a number of other projects, including a 2014 movie entitled Pompeii. The film itself was panned by critics and it’s probably an experience that Harington would forget…especially when you consider the fact that the actor was temporarily paralysed during filming. Harington later revealed: “I was in my trailer, and I felt absolutely fine, but they called me to set, I got up, and my legs just went from underneath me, and I ****ing couldn’t stand.
“Every time I got up, the same thing happened. I just stayed in bed for 48 hours and then I was at work again. But it’s weird when that happens.” Woah! Luckily the actor’s paralysis was only temporary…otherwise he might have been better suited to the role of Bran Stark instead.
18. He’s terrified of spiders and crowded places
Harington has quite a few phobias – he’s not a fan of syringes and injections, and regularly passes out when he has to have a needle stuck in his arm. However, there’s one thing that freaks the actor out more than anything: “I’m a bit scared of spiders.”
He’s also not a fan of crowded places: “The big, mortal fear I have is crowds. If I am at a festival, for instance, and it gets too crowded I start to panic because I will be kind of stuck and there is nothing you can do in that situation. “The force of a mass of humans together is quite a scary feeling when there is a big surge.” All we’re left wondering is how he managed to film some of those battle scenes in Game of Thrones.
17. He didn’t know his own real name until he was 11 years old
When Kit Harington’s parents, father David Harington and mother Deborah Jane Harington, had their second son, they had only one name in mind. Harington’s mother, an artist and playwright, named the newborn Christopher (after Christopher Marlowe) Catesby, which was Deborah Jane’s maiden name. However, according to Harington, he was called Kit – Christopher Marlowe’s own nickname – “from day one”. That Kit was hardly ever called anything else led to some serious confusion once Harington got to school, he told Interview magazine in 2012.
“I only found out my name was Christopher when I was 11…I went to school, and I remember that you had to do these tests to find out what set you’re in…I put down ‘Kit Harington,’ and they looked at me like I was completely stupid, and they said, “No, you’re Christopher Harington, I’m afraid.” “It was only then I learnt my actual name. That was kind of a bizarre existential crisis for an 11-year-old to have.”
16. He broke his ankle after one drink too many…and halted production on Game of Thrones
Harington had a heavy session on the pints back in 2013 and accidentally ended up breaking his ankle after a bad fall. Apparently, he was attempting to climb into his flat after losing his keys. Unfortunately, the injury occurred only a couple of weeks before filming for season 3 of Game of Thrones was set to begin. Harington later stated: “Everyone always says you must have done it on set horse riding or running across glaciers or something cool, I was an idiot.
The ‘invincibility of youth’ and all that. I couldn’t even blame it on a film set. And I had avoided skiing for ages because I thought I’d break my ankle!” Fun fact: the first person Harington called after breaking his ankle was none other than close friend John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones.
15. One of his ancestors is the man who invented the flushing toilet
Christopher Catesby Harington comes from a privileged background, to say the least. Before we get on to that though, let’s discuss how Harington is also distantly related to the man responsible for inventing the flushing toilet. Sir John Harington, a 16th century writer and inventor, was a courtier for both Elizabeth I and James I.
More importantly, John Harington was the man who created the world’s first flushing toilet, for Queen Elizabeth. Kit is a direct descendant of this toilet legend. He’s a great-grandson many times over of Sir John, on his father’s side.
14. His father is a baronet
It’s not just flush pioneer Sir John: the Harington family’s aristocratic prestige stems back centuries. While the Haringtons don’t attend royal courts anymore, even today the Harington family still has a knighted baronet at the head of it.
Harington’s father, Sir David Richard Harington, is the 15th Baronet of the Harington Baronetcy. Unfortunately for Kit, he doesn’t stand to inherit the title and become the 16th Baronet Harington. Kit’s elder brother, John, instead has that privilege. Still, at least the other brother got Game of Thrones.
13. He’s a descendant of King Charles II
Adding some weight to Jon Snow’s claim to being King in the North, Harington really does come from a long line of kings. Through his paternal grandmother, Lavender Cecilia Denny, Harington is a descendant of King Charles II.
Charles II reigned as King of England, Scotland and Ireland – or three kingdoms, if you’d prefer – from 1660 to 1685. Interestingly, Kit also, on his mother’s side, descends from the anti-royal would-be revolutionary Robert Catesby. In led the failed Gunpowder Plot to assassinate James I, or Charles II’s grandfather.
12. He had to audition for Game of Thrones with a black eye
Harington might be from good, aristocratic stock, but that doesn’t mean he’s above getting into a scrap now and again. The night before he auditioned for Game of Thrones, Harington managed to get himself into a fist fight. Harington was on a date with a girl at McDonald’s (classy) when a man started insulting the girl he was with.
“He called her something like, an ugly pig or something worse, and I got up and said, ‘No, no, no. You can’t call her that. Get up’. So I called him up for a fight which I’d never done before.” Unfortunately, Harington “got battered”, and was forced to attend the Thrones audition sporting a shiner.
11. He hates Downton Abbey with a vengeance
Harington might be from a noble lineage, but that doesn’t mean he’s a massive fan of the class system. For one, the actor really, really doesn’t like the Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning Downton Abbey. Harington once revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone: “I really disagree with Downton Abbey on lots of f***ing levels.
“It celebrates the class system, and its kind of overall message seems to be, ‘Wasn’t it good when everybody knew their place within society?’ Why should we hark back to those times? It was bullshit. We got out of that, and thank the **** we did.” Harington also revealed in the same interview that he never wants to do a rom-com: “I like doing anguish, deep depression and darkness. I don’t know why, maybe that’s who I am. Nothing interests me less than doing a romantic comedy.”
10. He based his Jon Snow accent on Sean Bean’s own, real accent
It wasn’t always a given – at least not from George RR Martin’s novels – that the people of the North in Game of Thrones would speak with a Yorkshire accent. However, once Sean Bean – from Sheffield, in South Yorkshire – and Mark Addy – from York, in North Yorkshire – were cast, the template was set. In season one, Bean’s Ned Stark and Addy’s King Robert Baratheon were arguably the two most important characters.
As a result, the two actors were considered the gold standard for the North Westerosian accent – and the rest of the cast playing Northerners were told to follow suit. In a 2018 interview, Bean said that “I established the way [the Starks] speak”, something Kit Harington confirmed in his 2012 chat with Interview: “I auditioned for Jon Snow in my own accent, and then when we got to filming the pilot, they asked all of Sean Bean’s sons to do Sean’s accent”.
9. He had to wear a wig for the Game of Thrones pilot
If there’s one thing Jon Snow is known for, other than knowing nothing, it’s his long, luscious curly hair. The character’s locks are so integral that they’ve actually become something of a spoiler – between seasons five and six, fans noticed that Harington hadn’t cut his hair, a sign that Snow was most definitely still alive in the show. Still, Harington hasn’t always had that sheer mane of curly dark hair. In fact, he had to wear a hairpiece for the original pilot of the show.
When this as-yet-unaired version of the first episode was filmed, Harington was still clean-shaven and growing out his hair, necessitating a wig for the character. Luckily, by the time the pilot was reshot, Harington had grown into the character’s now-famous look, and audiences have yet to be subjected to a bewigged Jon Snow.
8. He isn’t as tall as you think…
Jon Snow, King in the North, is everything a man would want to be: brave, strong and, perhaps most importantly for a leader of men, imposingly statured. Kit Harington, on the other hand, does not quite match up to the character description. At around 5 feet 7 inches tall, Kit Harington is shorter than the British male average of 5′ 9″, short enough that even fans don’t believe it’s really him.
Harington once told the story of a fan telling him “you look just like Jon Snow.’ and I said ‘Well, I am.’ And she was like, ‘Nah, he’s much taller than you.'” This leaves Harington shorter than 5’9″ Sophie Turner, who plays Jon Snow’s half-sister Sansa, and positively dwarfed by Gwendoline ‘Brienne of Tarth’ Christie at 6’3″.
7. He sometimes had to wear high heels to play Jon Snow
Harington’s height has become such an issue on Game of Thrones that the showrunners resorted to giving him some extra support for certain scenes. In order to give Jon Snow more of an imposing appearance, Harington was sometimes made to wear high heels when facing off against actors taller than him. In a 2019 interview with Esquire, Harington revealed that the heels posed a problem considering the sheer weight of the costumes he wore as Jon Snow.
“[My] costume weighed 33 pounds, and you’d carry all of that on your shoulders all day…And then you’ve got the sword, and that weighs two kilograms…Plus, I was in f**king high heels”. Harington explained to Esquire that this was “because I’m short and they need me to look taller than other people, so I’m carrying 50 pounds in high heels.”
6. The Game of Thrones showrunners gave Jon Snow a tiny manhood to punish Harington for being so great
At the beginning of season 6, after Jon Snow has been resurrected, Tormund decides to give the Lord Commander a rude awakening. “I saw your p***er. What god would have a p***er that small?”, Tormund tells Snow, undermining his kingly authority. This anatomical shortcoming of Jon Snow’s was written into the show, by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss, for no reason other than Harington is too perfect.
As Benioff and Weiss put it, Kit Harington is “handsome, talented, smart, and so decent to the core that it’s impossible not to like him.” Naturally, Benioff and Weiss found this “maddening”, and so decided to balance things out: “There has to be some downside to being Kit Harington, right?…The one thing we can do is saddle his character with a tiny p***er.”
5. He once told a police officer a Game of Thrones spoiler to get out of a speeding ticket
‘Decent to the core’ Kit Harington may be, but he isn’t opposed to using his powers for evil now and again. This much became obvious in 2016, when Harington revealed he recently got himself out of a speeding ticket by playing the Game of Thrones card. In conversation with Jimmy Fallon, Harington said he was pulled over for speeding by a police officer who also happened to be a Game of Thrones fan.
The officer reportedly said to Harington: “Look, there’s two ways we can do this: You can either follow me to the police station now and I’ll book you in, or you can tell me if you live in the next series of Game of Thrones”. Having decided to tell the officer of Jon Snow’s spoilerific fate in the upcoming season 6, the cop responded: “On your way, Lord Commander.”
4. He was the original Albert in War Horse
War Horse, Nick Stafford’s theatrical adaptation of Michael Morpugo’s novel, has become one of the biggest theatre hits of recent times. The WWI drama has been staged almost non-stop since it debuted in 2007 – and Kit Harington was there at the very beginning. Before he was Jon Snow and back when he was still in drama school, Harington bagged his first role as War Horse’s young lead, Albert Narracott.
Harington played the role from 2007 until 2009, starring in War Horse’s early National Theatre and West End runs. When Steven Spielberg got round to casting for his 2011 adaptation of War Horse, Harington had already signed up to Game of Thrones. Instead, Albert was played by Jeremy Irvine.
3. He was contracted to keep his hair long for eight years
What Kit Harington probably didn’t realise when growing his hair out for the Game of Thrones pilot was that his mane was going to have to stay that way for almost another decade. After the first season of Game of Thrones proved a success, Harington was contractually obligated to keep his hair long – for a further eight years.
In 2014, Harington told Rolling Stone: “It’s in my contract that it must be a certain length at all times.” He also added that he couldn’t wait to leave the fantasy genre behind, so he could finally “cut my f***ing hair”. Now Game of Thrones is finished, Harington has done just that: he’s recently been spotted sporting a new ‘stache and short hair combo, for his role in the stage play True West.
2. He wanted to play Harry Potter but was too old to audition
His allegiance at the end of the day may ultimately be to Game of Thrones, but Kit Harington has made no secret of his love for another fantasy franchise. Like so many people of his generation, Harington was a big Harry Potter fan growing up. In 2018, Harington told Entertainment Weekly that he “always wanted to be in a Potter movie. I always wanted to be Harry Potter”.
According to an interview Harington gave to CNN in 2012, however, there was never any chance of this: “I kind of wanted to audition for Harry when it was first being done but I think I was a year too old.” FYI, Harington knows exactly which house he’d be in: “Gryffindor, obviously. No one wants to be Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw is boring, Slytherin is full of psychos, as people know.”
1. He also writes screenplays (and has already sold two)
Harington might only be 32, a whippersnapper in TV/movie actor terms, but young Kit is already looking to a future beyond acting. Coming off what might prove to be the biggest gig of his career, Harington is considering his options. In 2016, Harington in interview with the Guardian revealed where he saw himself on the other side of the camera going forward.
“I’ve written three TV shows with my best friend Dan West, two of which we have sold, so I would like to see myself producing”. Already, Harington has his own production company named Thriker Films, which produced the 2017 miniseries Gunpowder, in which Harington starred as his ancestor Robert Catesby.