As much as we love Kit Harington with a man bun, we’ve got only two more seasons to lust after the romance novel–long mane and the character to whom it belongs: brooding bastard Jon Snow of Game of Thrones—currently filming its seventh season (to premiere this summer) in Belfast. Plot spoilers for the HBO epic are notoriously hard to come by, but this one tidbit recently slipped out: Harington and four other principal castmates banded together to negotiate a $1.1-million-per-episode salary for each.
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It seems Harington—the London-born son of a businessman and a former playwright—skipped the starving-artist phase of his career. After graduating from London’s prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama in 2008, he landed, first, the lead role in War Horse on the West End, then starred in the ensemble play Posh at London’s Royal Court Theatre. Soon after, he did so well in his first audition for a television show, he was soon putting his pursed lips and sculpted abs to good use in the career-making role of Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Thrones has been good to the 30-year-old Harington, bringing him an Emmy nomination and top-notch film roles (he’ll star with Dakota Fanning in next month’s dark western, Brimstone), and introducing him to his longtime girlfriend and Thrones actress Rose Leslie, who survived on the show long enough to deflower his character. “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” she memorably quipped. Harington proves that he, on the contrary, knows quite a bit.
Mickey Rapkin: Jon Snow famously lost his virginity in a cave. How did losing yours stack up?
Kit Harington: Mine was a little less left-field than in a cave. It was a typical sort of teenage thing, at a party. I was probably too young.
Too young—like 13?
No, but you’re not far off. I think the girl and I just kind of wanted to. You either hold on and do it right, or you’re young and decide to get the monkey off your back.
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The Internet is rife with rumors about you. Is it true that one of your ancestors invented the first flushing toilet for Queen Elizabeth I?
That’s 100 percent true. It’s called “the John Harington.”
Wait. We all refer to the loo as “the john” because of your family?
Yeah. [Laughs] I’m glad it’s not called “the Harington.” [My family] also wrote the queen a lot of bad poetry. I’ve inherited the bad poetry genes, but not the inventor genes.
You shot ‘Thrones’ in Iceland. Do you get lonely when you’re working in isolation?
I love it. You’re usually in the back end of nowhere. The whole crew and cast is in one hotel. There’s no bar down the road you can go to; there’s no restaurant. You stop at four in the afternoon when it gets dark, and you have the whole evening to kill. That sounds claustrophobic and dull, but it’s wondrous because you’re with this family. Everyone comes out of their shell because they can’t sit in front of their screens. You have to talk. People bring out board games, instruments.
What instrument do you play?
We’ve got a little group. I can’t say much more than that. I’m not really a musician, but I play percussion.
And the board games?
I play Risk. It’s about conquering countries. It’s basically Game of Thrones on a board game. It’s Method.
Attention gets you the opposite sex sometimes.
Did you get into acting to meet women?
Maybe that’s part of it. There’s something about being a show-off, and that gets you attention. And attention gets you the opposite sex sometimes. But by the time I got to drama school, I was a bit more serious about actually wanting to be an actor than I was about chasing skirt.
When was the last time you cried?
I always cry on a plane.
There’s something romantic about being on a plane going somewhere, being at that altitude.… I like a good cry every now and then. It releases something. There are times in my life when I’m meant to cry, but I don’t actually cry. But then I can be walking down the street and it’s been a few months, and things get on top of me—that’s when I find myself crying.
What prompted your last airborne cry?
I was watching the movie Eye in the Sky with Helen Mirren. Alan Rickman had died, and I saw him in this movie—and that made me very upset. [Pause] That was a while ago. I need a cry.
This is our TV issue. A lot of people use TV as a babysitter. What did you learn from TV as a kid—for better or for worse?
I was a massive Sesame Street fan when I was little. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV if I was ill and had to stay home from school—because that would encourage me to stay home. The only thing I was allowed to watch was Sesame Street. It backfired on Mum, because I would want to stay home just to watch Sesame Street. In fact, I was talking to Peter Dinklage the other day, and he said he’d been on the show and I was like—you can put this in print—I want to be on Sesame Street. That would be a dream for me. I’d be quite starstruck by the puppets.
Jon Snow is famously brooding. Would you like to take a role that’s wildly different?
Like every actor, you get notorious for maybe one role and then get offered a lot of similar roles. Jon is a hero; he’s a good person, he’s a moral person—a somewhat solemn person—so I get a lot of those surly heroic roles. I’ve learned to try to avoid those now. Otherwise I’m just going to go insane. I’d like to do comedy, but I don’t want to do romantic comedy. I’m not a romantic comedy guy. But I’d like to play someone really fucked up. People who are right on the edge.
If we play our cards right, after this interview, you’ll be offered Sesame Street and a drug addict.
Yeah. A drug addict on Sesame Street. [Laughs] Let’s hope Sesame Street doesn’t want to go there.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of ELLE.