For British actor Kit Harrington, being called a bastard was something he had to quickly become accustomed to. Harrington portrays Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in the epic new HBO Canada series, Game of Thrones.
The show is based on a hugely popular series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. Think Lord of the Rings with less magic and orcs, then add a big helping of political manoeuvring akin to The Tudors. Harrington spoke to Metro recently while in Toronto filming Silent Hill Revelations 3D about taking on the role of Snow and playing a bastard.
“It’s everything that he is. He is kind, he is loyal to his family, but underneath it all he is the bastard, the illegitimate child,” Harrington said. “He’s the bastard child of this very famous man who is famous for being a good loyal man.”
With little in the way of future prospects, Snow opts to volunteer for lifelong service in the Night’s Watch, a group of celibate fighters who man The Wall, the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms.
“I think it’s the only place he can go,” Harrington said. “He needs to go somewhere to be his own man. At this place he can not just be a bastard, but an equal among men and I can rise to the top.”
The Wall, which makes the Great Wall of China look like a cubicle, is just one of several settings Game of Thrones exposes to viewers. Despite having such a large cast and many different story arcs, Game of Thrones does an excellent job of not moving too quickly or making things confusing for those that have no knowledge of the book series.
Harrington himself was in that group before being cast in the pilot, although he has since read all four. He acknowledged that there is pressure on him to get the role of Jon Snow right for fans of the series.
“There is a balancing act in that you’ve got to take it (the role) and make it your own, but also you’ve got to not make it so much your own that it’s not the character anymore,” Harrington said.
Game of Thrones premiers Sunday 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.