A few years back, not many people predicted that Game of Thrones, HBO’s R-rated fantasy epic adapted from the best-selling works of George R.R. Martin, would become the most watched series in the network’s history. (Unless, of course, they already dug story lines centered around incest in a Middle Earth-ian setting.) But last season, an average of 18.4 million people watched each episode. The series’ breakout star is Westeros’ resident lovesick do-gooder with a sword, Jon Snow, played by British actor Kit Harington. Being the show’s moral center is hard work, Harington says.
With 160,000-plus square feet of sets, close to 30 regular cast members, and locations ranging from Iceland to Croatia, Game of Thrones’ scale is as unprecedented as the demands it makes on its actors. The weather’s harsh and the hours are long. And Harington, during the half-year of filming, is contractually forbidden to cut his hair; he also opts not to wash it (!) for those months, to stay in character. ”By the end, it’s pretty horrible,” he’s admitted.
The rest of the year, he branches out. You may have seen him and his abs in Pompeii—his first lead role in a feature—a few months ago. But don’t expect the actor to become typecast. “I told my agent, ‘No more swords, no more horses,’” he said in March. “And maybe I can cut my fucking hair.”
FIT FACT: For his ripped physique in Pompeii, the 5’8″ Harington trained hard to be as physically imposing as he could. “It’s not the way I feel I should look every day in my normal life,” he said earlier this year. “It’s not a natural state to be in. But for a film, sometimes you’ve got to do those things. For people’s imaginations.”