Two years after the conclusion of Game of Thrones, Kit Harrington reflects on the positives and negatives of his experience on the HBO show, focusing on how it affected his mental health.
“I went through some mental health difficulties after ‘Thrones’ — and during the end of ‘Thrones,’ to be honest,” Harington revealed in a recent SiriusXM interview. “And I think it was directly to do with the nature of the show and what I’ve been doing for years.”
The actor confessed that the show’s brutal and harsh “nature,” in which he played Jon Snow, “directly” caused him to have a breakdown.
As the last season of Game of Thrones aired in May 2019, numerous news sites claimed that Harington, who played Jon Snow for eight seasons in a row, had gone into a mental health and wellness center. He informed Cagle that following his therapy, he took a break from his work to “really concentrate” on himself and figure out what he wanted to do next. “I’m really happy I did that,” he said.
Harrington went on to say that his opinion of the series has shifted over time. “Part of the journey since it finished…was just becoming proud of that show, and not running away from it,” he said, “not running away from what it was, and who I played in it, but just owning it and being proud of everything about it.”
Harington booked himself into a “wellness retreat” little over a week after the series finale aired that year.
“Kit has decided to utilize this break in his schedule as an opportunity to spend some time at a wellness retreat to work on some personal issues,” his agent said in a statement at the time.
Harington also said why he chose to feature in an upcoming episode of Modern Love: “You don’t have to live in that intense place all the time. Why don’t you do something that takes the weight off? Why don’t you do something fun?”
Harington has long spoken out about the negative impact Game of Thrones has had on his health. He told Variety in 2019, before of the show’s last season, that things became extremely dark for him after his character was stabbed to death in Season 5. “My darkest period was when the show seemed to become so much about Jon, when he died and came back,” he said, adding that his character’s uncertain destiny became the series’ center focus.
The actor also stated that the Emmy-winning drama “had a real cultural impact,” which is one of the reasons he now looks back fondly on it. Of course, it was through it that he met actress Rose Leslie, whom he married in 2018.
Harington has stated that the season finale of “Game of Thrones” had an emotional and physical toll on many of the other actors involved. Harington told GQ Australia in January 2019 that “the last season of ‘Thrones’ seemed designed to break us.”
“When you become the cliffhanger of a TV show, and a TV show probably at the height of its power, the focus on you is f*cking terrifying,” he said. “All of your neuroses — and I’m as neurotic as any actor — get heightened with that level of focus.” It was around that time that Harington started going to therapy. “It wasn’t a very good time in my life,” he explained. “I felt I had to feel that I was the most fortunate person in the world, when actually, I felt very vulnerable.” And, while he was “grateful” for all of his achievements, he was also plagued with uncertainty. “I felt incredibly concerned about whether I could even f*cking act,” he said.
The actor portrayed Jon Snow, who is presented as the illegitimate son of Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean), and subsequently makes a shocking discovery about his ancestry. The series, developed by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and inspired by George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels, aired for eight seasons between 2011 and 2019, earning Harrington his first pair of Emmy awards.