But if Thrones had been like that, it wouldn’t have been what it was. I think part of what made it successful was the fact that we got on like a family. Everyone who came in was welcomed into the family. No one was the lead of that family—it was an ensemble. We were just genuinely happy in one another’s company. We made each other laugh. We cared for each other. We picked someone up if they fell. Look, over ten years of anyone’s life, family members die, people have breakdowns, shit gets real in people’s lives. All of that can be accentuated in this bottled environment of being on a famous TV show. And sometimes the only people who can guide you through those problems are the people who also know what it’s like to be on a famous TV show.
PHOTO: Kit Harington
So the story behind this one is that it was season 5, when John Bradley, as Samwell Tarly, leaves the Wall and goes off to the Citadel, and me and Hannah Murray, who plays Gilly [Samwell’s love interest], decided to pull a prank on John, because obviously he’d be getting a new costume. And so we said to the costume people, “Can you just mock up the most ridiculous outfit you can possibly come up with that could still be feasible? Like it can’t be too wild, because you won’t believe it—but just about feasible.” And they came up with this, which was just so perfect.
The amount of effort and time that’s gone into that, just for a joke, is brilliant. But if you look at John’s face in that, he’s so upset and angry and he’s totally bought it. I was expecting a text off him straightaway saying, “What the fuck have they done with my costume?” And I didn’t get anything, and I turned to Hannah and I was like, “I think we’ve genuinely upset him.” We got a report back from the costume designer saying that he completely bought it.
How long did he have to wait until he found out he’d been pranked?
Well, we left it. I was like, “Let’s see if he has to call his agents or how far this goes.” And he was so silent and he got on set, and I think they even hung it up in his trailer for his first day before they broke it to him. And then I still didn’t hear from him and I thought I’d actually pissed him off. I asked him afterward, and he was like, “I was never going to tell anybody about that.”
But it’s his facial expression in this. He looks so upset. It’s just—it just gives me so much joy.
We all started pranking one another a lot, and the thing was we all wanted to get David Benioff and Dan Weiss, ’cause they were the biggest pranksters. They were the ones that would really go hard on it. They’re so intelligent that they get bored and they start pranking actors. They pranked me a few times.
I’ve read that early on they gave you some fake script pages that made you think Jon Snow would be a burn victim with a horribly scarred face for most of the show.
That was pretty rough. It’s season 1, and you’re just kind of young and starting out. I rang my mum and was like, “Mum, they’re gonna cut my nose off! I’m gonna have a prosthetic nose for six years. Jeez, I’m going to be playing a character part now”—and all this stuff. I walked on set and I went up to Dan and was like, “Okay, I’ve become a burn victim?” And Dan was like, “Yeah, we just felt the character was getting a bit Harry Potter and we felt that you’re a bit pretty.?.?.?.” And then I see David just pissing himself in the background.
PHOTO: Kit Harington
This was taken in Spain, and I thought Emilia looked like, as the old saying goes, a million bucks. To me, in this photo, she screams fifties, sixties, Old Hollywood chic. And that’s why I took this snap, ’cause she sort of has a timeless quality to her.
Me, Rose, and Emilia have been best mates for years, but I never got to work with her until season 7. That’s a long time to be experiencing the same show and also the same kind of journey, me and Emilia, because we’ve followed the same path. We both came out of drama school and this was our first big show, and we became kind of the ice and fire of it all a bit—the two youngish leads, I guess. Probably the closest to what we were each experiencing was what the other person was experiencing, but then not to work with each other until season 7 and then walk on the same set.?.?.?.?I remember our first scene together was bizarre. We kind of looked at each other and tried not to laugh.
How did you become close if you weren’t working together? When did you see each other?
We would see each other at table reads, but our friendship was based around doing press and meeting each other at Comic-Con or hanging out outside of
Thrones. But once the series got started, we were rarely in the same place at the same time. She was always filming abroad [on locations in Morocco, Croatia, and Malta], and I was always in Belfast.
I remember the first time I ever saw her. She came into the Fitzwilliam bar. I had been talking to Rich Madden at the bar and he went, “I’ve just met the new Daenerys. She’s gorgeous.” And I was like, “Really? I haven’t met her yet.” And then she came in and I saw her and was like, “Wow.” She takes your breath away when she walks into a room, Emilia.
I think we’re good mates because we, maybe more than anyone else, know what the other one’s going through a bit. I don’t mean to sound like we’re going through the worst thing in the world. But I think no one else other than Emilia
will know exactly what being on Thrones is like, the way we’re on Thrones.That’s really how we kind of bonded.
What’s behind the picture of you wearing the Daenerys wig?
This is just me fucking around. I just got bored one day and put it on. Quite often Dany’s wigs were lying around. If that picture says anything, it’s about how much of your time is spent in hair and makeup.
PHOTO: Kit Harington
I took this selfie during the Battle of the Bastards [season 6’s biggest episode]. Just to give you an idea, we had six stages of dirt and blood, and I’m on about stage three at that point. And it was pretty uncomfortable. All of that stuff on my face is sticky blood, which is sugar based and attracts wasps and flies. I think I took that selfie just to go, “What the fuck am I in? I’m halfway through this and this is how messy I am.”
Miguel [Sapochnik, who directed the episode] wanted to get away from heroic Jon Snow. Jon turns a bit into a monster; he turns into this fucking ruined?.?.?. [
Searches for but can’t quite find an appropriately ruinous noun.] I think every time I walked on set, Miguel went, “More blood, more mud! More blood, more mud!” And so it was just building and building, and that picture was just me in my trailer going, “Fuck this.”
That sequence took two weeks to shoot. To give you a comparison, this year we have a battle that took six weeks.
Was the Battle of the Bastards filmed sequentially?
They had to. I mean,
Thrones generally is not filmed sequentially at all. On Tuesday you might be filming a scene from episode 9, and on Wednesday you might be filming from episode 1. That was part of the test of Thrones, keeping your character’s journey very clear in your head, so you knew where’d you been and where you were going. So you weren’t just playing it generic. But the battle had to be in order for the most part because hair and makeup can’t go, “Right, we’ve got to clean him up to the beginning of the battle.” It doesn’t work like that.
The mud on my face here is makeup, but you get covered in real mud by the end of the day anyway. They’ll have things called mud slingers and mud cannons—they just shoot mud at you, so that’s always quite fun. I used to get in the bath at the end of the day, and it was fucking black with mud. You’re like, “Wow, that’s a hard day’s work.”
Kit at the Battle of the Bastards in season 6 of Game of Thrones. "The producers and directors pushed us to our limits," he says. "But there’s something about the incessant nature of what we were doing that I think added to the show’s authenticity."