Kit Harington Reflects on ‘Thronesmania’ and Revisits the Unaired Pilot

Kit Pilot

In an interview with The Guardian, Kit Harington is wistful, in his reverence for the show that has largely been his career highlight for the past 8 years. He was a recent graduate of drama school when he signed on to what is now a worldwide phenomenon. Still, it took a wild to build: “Maybe the most special year was the first,” says Kit. “We weren’t being recognised in the street, we didn’t know what we were doing, we were having a great time.” Eight years and seven seasons have passed since he filmed that pilot, however. But as we’ve heard time and again, the original pilot wasn’t exactly considered a masterpiece…

“They [the pilot] made a lot of mistakes. It didn’t look right, didn’t feel right, had nothing different about it.”

Reportedly, in the pilot he was clean-shaven with a wig.

“They say [David and Dan], if I ever piss them off too much, they’ll release it on YouTube. Every now and then, they send me a screengrab, just as a threat.”

YouTube reaction videos were the talk of the town during Red Wedding and Mountain vs. Viper seasons (3 and 4) but can you imagine if Kit recorded himself watching the unaired pilot? It would be a sight to behold.

While this interview was conducted before the eighth season began filming, he reflects on how Jon will react once he finds out his lover is his aunt:

“I really hope that he just nods slowly and goes, ‘Damned right.’ Something really horribly inappropriate, and you find out Jon’s had a really sick mind the whole time. That’s the way I’d love to play it. I’ll try it for one take, anyway.”

Photo credit: Kit Harington by Norma Jean Ray for Esquire

Photo credit: Kit Harington by Norma Jean Ray for Esquire

He goes on to talk about the level of fan fervor and how it’s gotten to be quite a distraction when leaving the hotel for film shoots:

“Like, being in Spain and there being a crowd of 500, maybe 600 fans camped outside the hotel every day, and you have to get through them. It feels like being Bieber or something.”

While his new drama Gunpowder has just started airing on BBC1 in the UK, the question looms as to whether any future project Kit does will reach hype worthy of GoT level. For the full interview, and more from Kit on his new project, check out the full interview.

54 responses

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    1. Joey,

      I assume they can’t release it because of legal difficulties,like the different actors and such,they would have to pay them and i assume they wouldn’t get much revenue back from it considering it would only be an extra on bluray or something not to mention it would also cause some controversies comparing the actors that got recast with the actors that remained which i’m sure they want to stay out of that .

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    2. HelloThere,

      I’ve seen Tamzin Merchant(the actress who played the original Dany) in other series and let’s just say that i’m not a fan of her,say what you want about Emillia Clarke as an actress but the fact is she has presence and charisma while i haven’t seen any in Merchant . Jennifer Ehle however is a great actress and i would have liked to see her take on Catelyn but i’m happy with Michelle .

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    3. Kit is so adorable! I will definitely follow his career after Thrones! A bit off topic tho, I read an article from Variety yesturday about Miguel Sapochnik directing a new movie with Tom Hanks! It is supposed to begin shooting in the first quarter of 2018, the article said. So will he be done directing his episodes by the beginning of 2018? Or will he take a break, film the movie, and then film rest of his GoT episodes after that? I was truly confused after I read that article?!🤔

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    4. “I really hope that he just nods slowly and goes, ‘Damned right.’ Something really horribly inappropriate, and you find out Jon’s had a really sick mind the whole time.”
      Hahahahaha! That would be so hysterical. Bless you, Kit.

      I, too, want to see the original pilot, mostly to see Jennifer Ehle’s take on Catelyn.

      Any word yet on distribution for “Gunpowder” in the States?

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    5. “I really hope that he just nods slowly and goes, ‘Damned right.’ Something really horribly inappropriate, and you find out Jon’s had a really sick mind the whole time!

      Well we can guess, this won’t be how it will probably be played out because there will be issues with being related for Jon so it causes drama and him being the heir to the throne will be drama for Dany but they do both love each other and there is an great probability of a baby coming so they should be able to find a common ground….plus they need to work together to defeat the Night King and his army.

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    6. Eric Womack,

      I Agree…The baby could fix the problems between of them and making them to come more closer and marry before the end ..bcoz Jon doesnt want his childrens to be fatherless bastards ..He is more like Ned ..honrable and family guy..And Danny doesnt want again to be without family and actually she will think that if she has to take the throne and to keep her legacy and her family name..she should marry[as she did said to Daario in Meeren in S6]and their son/daughter to keep continue the Starkgaryen family name…creating with this way a New House who will rule in the end the 7 kingdoms..I hope we see that somehow..im very nervous for what will happen in S8

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    7. The entire interview was a great read. I look forward to binge-viewing all the episodes of “Gunpowder” and to finally see his movie with Dolan.

      I just really like his personality/attitude in general. Go Kit!

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    8. Love Kit so much – adorable, good head on his shoulders and quite a wicked sense of humour. Looking forward to seeing what he does in his career.

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    9. HelloThere:
      Captain Sparrow,

      Emilia has that intangible “something” that makes you unable to take your eyes off her onscreen.

      If you want to see a good example of that “intangible something” , check out Emilia’s Dolce & Gabanna (sp?) commercial. It’s in Italian, but I think it’s on YouTube.
      Someone here (sorry, I forget who and how it was worded) described her “intangible something” as radiating sunshine or an aura of sunshine. Maybe she’s genetically blessed with an overabundance of serotonin and dopamine. All I know is she’s retained her humility, and is never reluctant to make jokes at her own expense.
      And I think it’s rare that anyone can be goofy and sexy at the same time like she can.

      #TeamDragonQueen

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    10. Some of the actors should band together and start threatening D&D with releasing all the screenshots from that pilot. Or they should just release small snippets from the pilot.

      This was a nice interview. I really enjoyed the first episode of Gunpowder, it had somewhat of a similar vibe to Wolf Hall, but more grittier.

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    11. Northstar,

      Your right and something else interesting too see will be his sister Sansa and Arya reaction to Dany and will they be able to tell that Jon and her are in a relationship and have feelings for each other…Sansa won’t like her at all but Arya how will she feel about her?

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    12. Mary Mary:
      That photo of him in his suit at the gym is so gorgeous.

      He looks a bit like Keanu Reeves in that pic actually. Just call him Jon Wick Snow.

      From unknown drama school grad to international pop culture icon, what an amazing journey.

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    13. That would be great to see Jon Snow surprise fans by changing/expanding/evolving his character like alot of character have changed since the beginning season.

      I want to see some Fire and Blood characteristics in Eagon Targaryen.

      Maybe Varys is a Targaryen too?????

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    14. It’s a strange one as Jon Snow is my favourite character and Kit plays him perfectly however his other work from what I have seen is actually pretty dire.

      As for the pilot it would be weird but I would love to see it as part of the S8 blu ray.

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    15. Have you seen Kit in Testament of Youth? He is really fanstastic in it and it’s a bit different from his other roles. I want to see him in more comedies bc he was hilarious with great comic timing in 7 Days. He’s also wonderful as a stage actor too. I saw him in War Horse and last summer in Doctor Faustus and he’s grown so much as an actor.

      Jon Snowed,

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    16. Kim,

      He’s also great on Gunpowder,i’ve only seen the first episode but he showed a lot of emotion in it,don’t just judge him on popcorn trash like Pompeii or Silent Hill,every actor in history has been in at least one terrible film,hell that’s what De Niro and Pacino has been living off the past years .

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    17. Captain Sparrow,

      I believe the Tudors is the only thing I’ve seen Merchant in. I’ve just re-watched the series. I’ll say she was really convincing as the annoyingly immature, elfish, child queen but I can’t judge what kind of Daenerys she would have made based upon that portrayal lol.

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    18. One thing that Tamzin would be able to do more than Emilia, is sell the age of Dany from the books.

      Emilia is a beautiful woman but there’s no disguising that she looks like a woman and show Dany is clearly at least 25.

      However, I wonder if book Dany only works on the page. How convincing would we find her if we saw her face? Can you make a teenage Dany believable as the character that she needs to be? I’m not so sure.

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    19. I’m not familiar with Ms Merchant’s work so can’t judge. I’ve never had a problem with Ms Clarke though I know others have reservations but I don’t want to get into that again here.

      Kim,

      I haven’t seen any of KH’s other work though some of the critics were less than kind about Faustus. I was at the lunderette (laundromat) and picked up a copy of a local paper (“Express and Star”) and somebody was complaining that the “Gunpowder Plot” was indicative of how left wing the BBC is getting these days (because it focuses on the conspirators’ points of view) – that made me laugh, there are just as many other people saying the BBC is right wing!

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    20. Violator,

      All the characters in the show have been aged-up, so there’s no need for Emilia to look like a teenager. Kit Harington doesn’t look like a teenager either, neither does Richard Madden (Robb Stark). There are al born in 1986. And also their characters are born with only a few months difference.

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    21. Dame of Merica,

      To say the truth, I also have a major issue with Gunpower. It’s not only that the story is told from the conspirators’ POW but that they are clearly and straightforwardly justified (at least as far as Ep 1 goes) – they are given a casus belli in the form of the execution of an old lady invented for that purpose etc. IDN, whether it is due to the left wing taking over BBC or rather to postmodern individual naratives taking over the traditional great narratives but that’s not fun. Think of the story of 9/11 told from the POV of Osama bin Laden! It’s true that no-one is a villain is his own story: neither Osama bin Laden nor fictional Cersei Lannister. But history shoul carry out the mission of magistra vitae and therefore both grand and individual narratives should be separating villains from heroes. IMO, the true hero of the Gunpowder plot was the Catholoc lord who revealed it but so far it doesn’t look like the show would be going that way. On the other hand, I still hope that Ep 2 and 3 will sorth things out and therefore withhold my final judgement.

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    22. Inga,

      The Osama bin Laden example is really not the same thing. Osama bin Laden wasn’t born in the US, he didn’t grow up in the US, his family and ancestors didn’t contribute to the advancement of the US society.

      The individuals involved in the Gunpowder plot were Englishmen, their ancestors before them fought for Britain, and they were repressed at the time. Of course, go back about 60 years or so before the gunpowder plot and the Protestants were being prosecuted. If some of the Protestants devised the gunpowder plot against Queen Mary, then that would have been treason. It shows you how fickle the laws was during these times. History is written by the winners.

      That being said blowing up a lot of people in order to gain power is still a dark act. In the second episode we are shown more from other perspectives as well, the first scenes just helps to establish a motive. Kit does a few good scenes in the second episode, the scene with his son was pretty good.

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    23. Eric Womack:
      Northstar,

      Your right and something else interesting too see will be his sister Sansa and Arya reaction to Dany and will they be able to tell that Jon and her are in a relationship and have feelings for each other…Sansa won’t like her at all but Arya how will she feel about her?

      I’ve thought about this too… I think the backing of Arya and Sansa will be essential for Jon to sell his alliance with and allegiance to Dany. No more intra-Stark bickering!

      As Ned told Arya in S1e3, and as Arya repeated to Sansa on the battlements near the end of S7e7:

      “In the winter, we must protect ourselves, look after one another.”

      (In that same scene, Ned also told Arya: “We can’t fight a war amongst ourselves” – the exact words Jon told Sansa on the battlements at the end of S6e9.)

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    24. Ten Bears,

      I totally agree that has to stop but we are talking about the North feelings about Targaryens and trusting them and she is already upset about Jon “bending the knee” to Dany but then to when she was listening to what Littlefinger was saying about Jon and Dany getting together, and to realize that maybe Littlefinger was right for once could cause some problems for the alliance that must occur. I feel like Arya might like Dany because Jon loves her…but we will see how they play it out on screen.

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    25. FictionIsntReal:
      All I know about Tamzin Merchant is that GRRM supposedly preferred her as Daenerys.

      I liked Tamzin Merchant in her two brief scenes as Mr. Darcy’s sister Georgianna in Pride & Prejudice (2005), especially when she looks at her brother and Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) making small talk about piano playing – and gives her brother a knowing smile as if to say “Somebody’s in luuuuvvvv.”

      I suppose someday we’ll get the real story why she was replaced as Dany. It does seem awfully strange that they’d recast a lead after just one (pilot) episode, considering how exhaustive the casting process was.

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    26. FictionIsntReal,

      Unless you provide a quote for it,i’m going to assume you made it up,GRRM only said he was impressed by her in the original pilot nowhere did he ever compare her to Emilia,please stop with the misdirection and made up claims from nowhere,it’s one of the most annoying things in this fandom . Just like some people saying that they “heard” that GRRM doesn’t like the show anymore or that he had a fight with D and D,it’s annoying and it only creates confusion and mistrust .

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    27. Ten Bears,

      The only thing i remember her saying was that she didn’t want to signed to a contract to a show that would last multiple years so it was probably her choice to not go on with the role . It was said on her twitter account and it was years ago and if it wasn’t for twitter being a terrible managed site i would actually find the specific tweet but i’m not going to go through hundreds of tweets to find it,hopefully someone more dedicated than me and who has more time on his hands can find it .

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    28. Eric Womack:
      FictionIsntReal,

      All i know is that to me, i can’t imagine Danaerys being played as anyone else but Emilia Clarke.

      Me neither. And she’s only gotten better each season.
      When GoT concludes, I’d love to see Emilia in a screwball comedy. She’s got that infectious laugh and wonderful sense of humor. That’s the only drawback of playing Daenerys: she doesn’t get to use her comedic talents. (She cracks me up in Behind the Scenes videos and interviews; even her Instagram photo captions make me chuckle.)

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    29. “Still, it took a wild to build” I assume this is meant to be “Still, it took a while to build”??

      It passed the spell checker, but fails the human reading test…

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    30. Inga,

      “…hey are given a casus belli in the form of the execution of an old lady invented for that purpose etc. ”

      They didn’t invent it so much as use a dramatic earlier incident that happened in York, which is coincidentally also the birthplace of Guy Fawkes. In 1586, a woman named Margaret Clitherow was crushed to death for being an unrepentant Catholic. She’s since been named a saint. Her chapel is on the Shambles in York. I’m not Catholic, but it’s very moving.

      Eric Womack,

      Great question. I think Arya may be initially suspicious too, but Jon will win her over quickly. And Arya will convince Sansa to give Dany a chance, for Jon and defeating the WWs. Why would Sansa listen to Arya? Because Arya has always seen through people and even Sansa called her “the strongest person I know”. And from a practical standpoint, without Arya (and Bran?), there’s no united Stark front against Dany. The pack must stay united, especially in this Winter. So I think Sansa will be icily formal but fairly accepting of Dany.

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    31. Stark Raven’ Rad,

      Yes, I know about Margaret Clitherow but it was 20 years earlier. And some 60 years earlyer the Catholics were tormenting the protestants and the massacrew of St. Bartholomew’s Day in France happened about 30 years earlier. In general, both the Catholics and the Protestants were committing atrocities all over Europe and ofthen there were national interests at stake too. Therefore, the English government had every reason to hunt the Catholiks. This aspect of the story gets kind of lost – at least in Ep 1. And as a casual viewer of Englsh historical fiction I get sort of confused. It’s like “wait, when last you showed me Elisabeth, the Catholicks were the bad guys?” and then it comes to “OK, all of them were bad and English history is shit” (sorry).
      IMO, the Gunpowder plot story has a great potential to address and explore the issue of conflicting morals and I hope it won’t be wasted.

      As for Dany in the North, I don’t see much potential for a conflict (other than over the issue of the claim to the IT). The Northerners may be suspicious, but the NK is on their doorstep, so Dany will be demonstrate her worth immediately.

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    32. Inga: Yes, I know about Margaret Clitherow but it was 20 years earlier. And some 60 years earlyer the Catholics were tormenting the protestants and the massacrew of St. Bartholomew’s Day in France happened about 30 years earlier. In general, both the Catholics and the Protestants were committing atrocities all over Europe and ofthen there were national interests at stake too. Therefore, the English government had every reason to hunt the Catholiks. This aspect of the story gets kind of lost – at least in Ep 1. And as a casual viewer of Englsh historical fiction I get sort of confused. It’s like “wait, when last you showed me Elisabeth, the Catholicks were the bad guys?” and then it comes to “OK, all of them were bad and English history is shit” (sorry).
      IMO, the Gunpowder plot story has a great potential to address and explore the issue of conflicting morals and I hope it won’t be wasted.

      As I said above, go back 60 years and Mary was prosecuting the protestants. If the Gunpowder plot was hatched against Mary than it would have been treason. The laws were to changeable and fickle during those times. In the end both sides were wrong for committing these terrible acts of violence against each other. The laws in themselves are meaningless in this situation. The catholics we meet in this story are the ones that has been prosecuted for years, that is the experience that the characters have lived through.
      Blowing up a lot of people is morally wrong, it has nothing to do with the fickle and changeable laws of one country. If you are just looking at the law of a country in isolation you will quickly fall into a rabbit hole.

      If you were a catholic who grew up with the prosecutions of catholics then that will be your frame of reference, because it is the experience you live by every day.
      In the second episode we do see catholics burning jews at the stake. We also learn that the catholic church isn’t necessary always that interested in their faithful servants, they are more concerned with politics.

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    33. I really enjoyed that interview: and likewise liked the first installment of Gunpowder. I’ve the second saved and hope to see it tomorrow night…
      As somebody said earlier, Kit was excellent in Testament of Youth. I think that he really is potentially a successor to some of the finest British actors, and am so glad that he got his chance in Thrones.

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    34. PS – I really don’t want to see the pilot!

      (Well, maybe in a few years’ time, as a laugh, well after the end of season 8…)

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    35. Kim:
      Have you seen Kit in Testament of Youth? He is really fanstastic in it and it’s a bit different from his other roles. I want to see him in more comedies bc he was hilarious with great comic timing in 7 Days. He’s also wonderful as a stage actor too. I saw him in War Horse and last summer in Doctor Faustus and he’s grown so much as an actor.

      Jon Snowed,

      I love Testament of Youth! I wish more people had seen that movie. Granted, it’s a periodic piece and very sad, so it won’t be to everyone’s taste. But it’s extremely well done. And Kit’s great in it, as is Alicia Vikander.

      I believe Kit has expressed a wish to take on some more comedic roles once his schedule opens up. He should, as 7 Days in Hell is a comedic gem. Indubitably.

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    36. Jared: I love Testament of Youth! It’s very sad, but extremely well done. And Kit’s great in it, as is Alicia Vikander.

      I believe Kit has expressed a wish to take on some more comedic roles once his schedule opens up. He should, as 7 Days in Hell is a comedic gem. Indubitably.

      I echo all of this! 🙂

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    37. Jared: Speaking of Gunpowder, HBO has just acquired it. They’ll be airing it as a three-night event starting Monday, December 18th through Wednesday, December 20th at 10 P.M. So those of us who don’t get BBC One and haven’t gotten to see Kit’s new project yet will now have that chance!

      I think Gunpowder will work really well with the HBO audience.

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    38. Inga,

      I wasn’t so much commenting on the veracity (or not) of the Gunpowder Plot as depicted in Kit Harington’s project as about the alacrity with which a critic attributed a political motive to a drama show. I see that there has already been commentary about Margaret Clitherow earlier in the thread so I won’t mention that. You have a point that in some treatments of “history” there has in latter years been a tendency to reinvent (or re-interpret at least) accounts of times past to put a modern spin on them. I fairly recently binge-watched the Canal+ show, Versailles. It is well acted but while some of the story is based on fact the showrunners did go with something that was a rumour (and one that surfaced some years after the alleged event in any case) in that they showed Louis XIV’s wife giving birth to a mixed race baby. As far as I know there is zero proof that Marie-Therese who was quite a devout lady ever gave birth to such a child. And don’t get me started on “The White Queen” etc – I had to tune out of that when it was on TV. But even going back several years the film “The Private Life of Henry VIII” starring Charles Laughton was not historically correct but I did enjoy that, though I was only a child when I saw it first.

      As Kit Harington is descended from Catesby I suppose he was unlikely to portray Catesby as a baddy!

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    39. Inga,

      It’s supposed to be told from the point of view of the conspirators, that’s kind of the point.

      The show was actually Kit’s idea, think he is the producer also, he is an ancestor of the character he portrays i believe and he wanted to tell the story from their side of things.

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