Geekadelphia recently spoke with Kit Harington, the British actor best known for his brooding role as bastard Jon Snow in Game of Thrones.
From his hotel room in New York, Harington spoke at length about Thrones, Comic-Con, geekdom and how he prepared for his newest role as Vincent in Silent Hill: Revelation, alongside Sean Bean and Adelaide Clemens.
You’ve been doing a lot of traveling because of the new film and also over in the UK for Thrones. What was your experience in Philadelphia?
Kit Harington: When I was 18 I came out to America on my own and traveled to New York and then Philadelphia and then Washington. I loved it, it’s very green, lots of parks. I saw people playing cricket there, which is strange in America.
Let’s talk about Silent Hill: Revelation. This is your first trip into horror. What was the most challenging aspect of taking on this role and getting into this genre?
KH: I always love horror to watch and when this came along, I thought it would be a complete thing to do because I get to tick off the list, in a way. One of the most challenging things, when it comes to something like this is that generally the scenes are going to naturally be very very high stakes and high tension, so you spend a lot of your time in high anxiety, which can take its toll on you off set. So that’s the slightly bizarre aspect of it. Also you have to make sure you’re not screaming and shouting and about it die in every single scene.
Silent Hill has to be one of the scariest series I’ve ever seen, from the video game to the movies. What should viewers expect from this new film?
KH: I think it’s along similar lines, it’s a different director so it’s a slightly different vision, but the same producers so they’ve kind of stayed quite faithful to the first movie and as close as they can to the computer game. I think if you enjoyed the first one and were scared, then this one will get you as well.
You play a character named Vincent, who is one that we haven’t seen before in the film. There’s a bit of mystery around him. From what we understand, he isn’t all he seems when we first meet him. Without spoiling too much, what can you tell us about your character and how you prepared for this role?
KH: I can’t say a huge amount but the one thing that’s important to say is that if you are a big, kind of Vincent fan from the computer game, he differs in the film – so much so that I was advised not to play the game and base my character on the game character, because they’re basically different people. I don’t think I’d have got the part if Vincent had been the character of the game, as it were. So I won’t say too much about it other than I think he’s a good person.
Preparing for the role, I didn’t look at the computer game and just took it from the script. It’s very important with horror to not play it as horror. You have to play it as the reality of what is it.
How did that differ from the preparation you’ve done for some of your other roles? Obviously the character that you’ve played in Game of Thrones, Jon Snow, comes with an enormous amount of backstory and preparation material that you can use.
KH: It’s a similar process. I always love having the source material and with (Game of Thrones) I loved having the books there and referring to the books when I needed to, trying to play my adaptation as close the books as I can. You sort of live with the characters for a while and there’s little things that can help you to define who someone is when you’re playing them.
I think with Vincent, without giving anything away, it was his background and where he’s from that was important. The director had me think about that when preparing for him.
You’ve had the ability to perform for TV and film, some recent voice acting with How to Train Your Dragon 2, and have also done theatre. Is there a medium you prefer more than others, and have your learned anything unexpected while working in these different arenas?
KH: I miss doing stage work. I love all the different mediums for different things, I know that some actors prefer stage to screen, but I really don’t – I just want to do as much collective work as I can, so I’m lucky that I’ve covered all bases really. I’m getting to learn the ropes in lots of different areas and it’s great. If you just have fun with it, it’s all fun.
The thing I’m sure you’ve learned about geeks is that we kind of cling on to things we love very much –which I’m sure you’ve learned with Game of Thrones — people can kind of get obsessed with these characters and alternate worlds. Now that you’re a part of another hugely successful franchise with Silent Hill, is there anything that’s happened to you with your fans or interacting with these fandoms that has struck you?
KH: I suppose I was naïve coming into Thrones as to how seriously people take their favorite movies or TV shows. It was always a surprise to me that people would know so much about the character, it’s actually very encouraging that, as you say “geeks”, you ‘ll never meet more enthusiastic people if you tried. They make you feel guilty about not being more enthusiastic!
But I love it, I love the (cosplay) and stuff, I always feel that Thrones has turned me into a bit of a geek myself.
In what way?
KH: I’m a big fan of the books now. The next time I go to ComicCon, I’m thinking about dressing up to go around on the floor. I enjoy ComicCon, I think it’s an amazing experience so yeah I kind of count myself in that group in a strange sort of way.
Your role in Game of Thrones is only to get more and more important as time goes on. What are you looking forward to the most as the show progresses?
KH: I really love this show and I love being involved in it. It’s a good question but I’m afraid a boring answer – I’m really just looking forward to doing more of the same. I’m always so excited to get the scripts, seeing what I’m going to be doing or what new actors are on. It never ceases to amaze me when I walk on to a set and they’ve built something new that’s even more incredible than the last thing I saw. I’m looking forward to spending more time in Iceland, love that country.
I can’t wait for this (third) season to come out, because I think people are going are going to be blown away by it.
It must have been fun to work with Sean Bean again for Silent Hill: Revelation, I understand he plays another major character.
KH: Yeah it was strange, I did my first TV and then my first film with (him). It was like turning up at Silent Hill and going “Oh hello Sean., same old thing, different genre.” He’s a great guy and I watched him for years, it’s just incredible that I get to work with him.
We don’t want to spoil anything, but we’re rooting for him to pull through this film. There is that joke that something horrible happens to him in every story.
KH: Someone showed that to me! One Sean Bean dies every 1.24 years, in different ways – frozen to death, he’s been shot, he’s been buried alive, everything.