Kit Harington Interview: ‘Game of Thrones’ Star Talks ‘Silent Hill: Revelation’ and Season 3
‘Game of Thrones’ fans were heartbroken to hear that one of the series' leads, Kit Harington, had to bail a few days before the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel earlier this year due to an ankle injury. But that just made his appearance at New York Comic-Con that much more exciting.
Earlier in the convention, Harington joined his big-screen co-star Adelaide Clemens in the IGN theater at Manhattan's Javits Center to promote ‘Silent Hill: Revelation 3D’ along with writer/director Michael J. Bassett and producer Samuel Hadida. Making his big-screen debut in this film, Harington plays Vincent, a mysterious character pulled pretty much directly out of the video game series. Although not much was revealed about Vincent at the panel -- 'cause anything more than a vague description was said to spoil the plot -- Bassett did mention that "If you know the game, you’ll know Vincent."
Also in the works for Harington is his continued role in the upcoming 'Game of Thrones' season 3, premiering March 31, 2013, where we'll get to see him again as the ever-popular Jon Snow along with his new co-star Ciaran Hinds (playing Mance Rayder). I had a chance to chat with Kit Harington about, among other things, ‘Silent Hill: Revelation,’ making his first venture into film, some off-screen shenanigans, and, of course, the much-anticipated ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3.
Let’s set the scene: the day after the NYCC 2012 'Silent Hill' panel, Harington and I sat in one of the top rooms of Trump Soho in front of a window overlooking the Hudson River -- much different from the Javits Center, parts of which wreaked of packaged ketchup -- when he mentions he has to be careful of his ankle, as it’s still a bit sore:
This is the ankle that made you unable to go to San Diego Comic-Con?
Yeah, this is the ankle that stopped me going, unfortunately, which is sad because I, you know, I really wanted to make it to Comic-Con. But Comic-Con at the best of times is a mad house, so on crutches it would have been a bit too tricky, so I didn’t go in the end.
How did you hurt it?
I, uh… if I’m being completely honest, I tried to climb in through my upstairs window because I left my keys inside my flat and decided to – uh, maybe slightly inebriated – rescue them and it didn’t pan out as I’d hoped.
Well, you were definitely missed. I didn’t get to go, but my team was there and they missed you.
I missed it actually. I enjoyed it so much last year, and so I really wanted to go the next year. And I hope to have a film that’ll take me there every year, you know, or with ‘Thrones’ or whatever.
Well how are you liking New York so far?
I love New York, I love the city. It’s impossible. It’s a theme park of a city, isn’t it. Do you live here?
Yeah, I live right in Alphabet City.
Right. Yeah, well I love this place. I’ll be honest, London, where I come from, is like [pats his hand in a steady tempo on the coffee table] L.A.’s like [pats slower] New York is like [pats rapidly]. And I find that quite hard to deal with for anything more than a week. So, I think if you lived here you’d get used to it, but, em, I find the pace quite hard to deal with. But I love the city, I love the people.
Yeah, I was overwhelmed too when I first got here. But you seemed quite calm at the panel last night. Is it, sort of, second nature to you now, all the hype and all the fans screaming your name?
I don’t want to take it all for granted, you know. I really don’t, and I love where I’m at in my life and career at the moment. Hopefully it continues but if it doesn’t it’s a real peek. I don’t want to take it for granted, but I feel like if you’re constantly overwhelmed, bamboozled by these things, it can be very tiring. So I think I’m getting to a point with publicity and press where I just really want to be myself. So, I’m learning rather than trying to be the cool guy or the funny guy. I’m just trying to be myself.
With ‘Silent Hill,’ I was a little surprised to first hear that you would be starring in this role. I guess I’m always surprised when a breakout lead actor in a huge franchise branches out, but pleasantly surprised. So, how did this role come about for you?
Well, first of all, it was a couple of years ago that I… It’s been a long time in the coming, this film. I actually filmed this just after I filmed the first season of ‘Thrones,’ so ‘Thrones’ hadn’t even come out when I [started] filming this. It came out while I was filming this and I watched it, so yeah it was a little while ago.
But I love horror movies, you know, I always have. And I kind of always wanted to tick that box and I got one through the door that, you know, I was kind of on the fence about and then I met the director, Michael, and he convinced me of this film. And I kind of love its surreal nature, it’s bizarreness -- it’s kind of funny as well as being a horror movie. So, I thought, “Why not?” I want to work in every different medium – TV, theater and film – and I’ve done theater and TV, and this is my first film.
Any plans for more horror movies?
Maybe. Maybe not. Depends if the script’s right, but generally I don’t go by genre when I look at film, I go by the character in the story. But with this I kind of did go with genre. I was like, “alright, that’s a genre horror movie, I’m gonna do that."
I like how you’re saying you want to get your feet wet in every aspect of acting.
Last night, I saw a screening of ‘Silent Hill,’ and I was kind of terrified.
You saw the horror movie?
It freaked me out.
And you were right, at the panel, to say you couldn’t really go into your character that much. At the time, I was like, “Come on, just give us something!” I totally understand it now, but what about the preparation for it? With ‘Game of Thrones,’ you read the books. And, so, you mentioned you tried to play the ['Silent Hill'] video game?
Yeah, I mean, I’m being absolutely genuine when I say they scare me. They really scare me. Any kind of horror video game where I’m the first-person player and I’m… I suddenly stop caring about the video game dude and I’m like, “I really don’t want him to die," and then the minute he dies it upsets me. I can’t play those games.
But I didn’t do much of it [play the games] for preparation because, when you see the film, you realize it’s not that relevant, for me, to know the character in the game. And so, yeah, I didn’t do that much. Like with ‘Thrones’ I read the books and invest in the character that way.
I liked how, I think it was, Michael [J. Bassett] who said last night that the 3D effect was his attempt to recreate the experience of playing the game at home in the dark. So, I was just wondering -- with the 3D, the CGI and even the transition of working with these guys in these elaborate costumes – how was it going from ‘Game of Thrones’ where the dire wolves are pretty much just tennis balls at the end of sticks?
Yeah. Well, surprisingly in ‘Thrones’ there’s very little CGI. Anything they can build, can make, can do, they will and they won’t CGI much. So, I’ve gone from that into ‘Silent Hill’ where Michael feels pretty much the same that everything should be visceral and real. So, I haven’t had a huge amount of experience yet in the industry where I’m in a green room just playing with invisible things. I personally think CGI can be useful if it’s used well, like it is I think in ‘Thrones’ and again in this movie, but I’m not a big CGI-fest movie guy. I believe that if you can see anything being done it’s not exciting anymore. It’s only exciting if it’s used well.
I wasn’t sure at first which monsters were special effects and which were costumed, but that mannequin spider…
That’s CGI, right?
That’s CGI, yeah. That’s the only CGI element of the film. Everything else is made in real, but that’s the only bit which is CGI-ed.
Michael also said that they’ve done stuff with 3D that nobody else has ever done before. Can you speak specifically to what he was talking about?
Now I could be wrong here… but I’m gonna say it anyway: I think this is the only film, or the first film to be made where everything is 3D… I think, I’m not sure. In some films, you’ll have the 3D element which’ll pop out every now and again, or bits of it will be 3D, but in this film everything’s 3D. It’s kinda… yeah, which is different and new. I think that’s right, don’t quote me on that. But yeah, I don’t know the ins and outs of 3D and how it works, and the details behind it, the technology behind it, but I think there have been things done in this that are completely new.
What was it like working with Sean Bean again?
Was it kind of a different experience? Or was it like, “Oh, I remember you!” and you gave each other a bro hug?
What was nice was turning up to the set of a film and seeing an actor who you really admire and you’d grown up loving the work of, and shaking his hand as friends on a different movie. That was what was so bizarre for me. It was like, “Sean, how you doin’?” rather than, you know, “Hi, Sean, I’m Kit. I’m playing opposite you in this scene.” Which is wonderful because he’s a fabulous actor. I don’t know if you’ve seen ‘Accused.’ Have you seen ‘Accused’? It’s a British drama…
No, not yet.
… Where he plays a drag queen.
Fantastic. You’ve got to see it.
If it’s on Netflix, I’ll definitely watch it.
Yeah, watch it, watch it. It’s really… I mean, it’s one of the most powerful performances I’ve seen him do, which is saying something. But yeah, working with Sean’s always a pleasure. Anyone who gets to work with him in the future, I thoroughly recommend it. He’s a lovely guy and a very generous actor.
Now, I’m sure you’re probably sick of this, but I feel it would be little bit of a missed opportunity if I didn’t poke at you a bit about ‘Game of Thrones.’
Yup, go for it!
Is there… I mean, I don’t want you to have to give too much away, but is there anything you can hint at as to what we can expect from season 3?
Um… Without giving anything away, it’s gonna be a high-impact season. They’ve [HBO] thrown more money at it than they’ve ever thrown. Everyone’s story lines seems to have something which is just… I don’t know, I feel about ‘Thrones’ that this season is gonna be kind of the iconic one. I don’t know if that’s going to far, but I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m genuinely very excited.
'Game of Thrones' writer Vanessa Taylor said that this season is gonna be very cinematic, moreso than previous seasons. So, with Jon Snow’s character, are we going to see more "cinematic" views of like the Whitewalkers and the Wall? Like how is that higher budget sort of affecting your story line?
Yeah, I’m not gonna say ‘cause I don’t want to ruin it, but, um…
Does it follow the general plot line of the third book?
Yes. It does. I mean, they’re always trying to stick as close to the books as much as possible because the books are so wonderful and we don’t want to stray too far from them. We don’t want to piss off fans, don’t want to piss off George, but obviously there has to be adaptations. But I think, yeah, it sticks pretty close.
You’ve already started filming season 3, right?
Yes, I’m in the middle of filming it right now.
So, have you started working with Ciaran Hinds?
How is that?
Ciaran is a… like, I didn’t know who was gonna be cast as Mance, and I kind of thought it would be great if they got someone like Ian McShane. I hadn’t even thought about Ciaran Hinds and then it was announced and I went, “That’s perfect, he’s perfect for that role.” Without going everything’s hunky-dory everything’s wonderful, but he is just such a lovely man. I’ve done one scene with him so far and, without giving anything away – I mean, it’s pretty obvious that I meet him [in the show]. Yeah, again, he’s one of my favorite stage and screen actors.
Was it, like, you thought his past work gave him the qualifications to fit this role?
Yeah. I mean he’s just incredible. You’ve never seen a man work a camera the way he works it, perfectly. He does this thing where he sort of [demonstrates] doesn’t...even...doesn’t even blink. He just doesn’t, and it’s engaging to watch, and quite sort of mesmerizing to act opposite. I’m a big Ciaran Hinds fan, always have been and it’s so nice to meet an actor in the flesh and for you to respect them still after you’ve met them and been friends with them – like Sean or like Ciaran. ‘Cause sometimes people can be assholes when you actually meet them. He’s just such a lovely man.
Yeah, and I feel like especially with your career, you’ve already gotten the opportunity to work with so many great names so early on.
Yeah, so far. Like, I can’t believe it.
'Silent Hill: Revelation 3D' hits theaters this Friday, Oct. 26, and 'Game of Thrones' season 3 premieres March 31, 2013.