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Kit Harington, 2016
© Rob Greig

Kit Harington: ‘I f**king hate snootiness in the theatre’

Back on the London stage in Sam Shepard’s classic ‘True West’, Kit Harington talks rowdy audiences, sibling rivalry and the end of ‘Game of Thrones’

By Andrzej Lukowski
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Curled up in an old leather rehearsal-studio swivel-chair that he seems to have formed some sort of emotional attachment to (he even tells me how much he loves it), Kit Harington is tired but palpably happier than the last time I interviewed him. Perhaps it’s because he’s enjoying playing, Austin, the neurotic younger brother to Johnny Flynn’s deadbeat elder sibling, Lee, in Sam Shepard’s iconic 1980 drama ‘True West’. Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t have to lie about Jon Snow not being in the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’, which is wrapped and airs next summer.

Why did you choose to do ‘True West’?

‘I wanted to do a two-hander where me and another actor shared the stage for the bulk of the time. And what I love about Austin is the opportunity to play somebody incredibly highly strung and neurotic; that’s not a part that’s usually offered to me. Austin has a complete fucking breakdown, and that’s always fun to play.’

How have you got on with Johnny Flynn?

‘Really well! I know it would be more interesting to say I hate him. But that’s the risk; the nature of the role is that Lee is bullying Austin a lot of the time, so if you don’t get on with that other actor it can become very, very difficult. But he’s such a calm, interesting guy. There would be something wrong with you if you didn’t like Johnny Flynn.’

You’ve got a brother, Jack: did that help?

‘It’s been useful. Me and my brother get on brilliantly now, but we fought like most brothers do. We were quite different growing up. I’m the younger brother and I looked at what Jack was doing, and I did all the things he didn’t to try and get mum and dad’s attention.’

Your last play was Jamie Lloyd’s ‘Doctor Faustus’ two years ago – how was that experience?

‘I’m really proud of “Faustus” and I really loved working with Jamie, but the way I feel about that now is that I stepped into one of the hardest classical roles there is. People earn their stripes at places like the RSC to really understand that text, and I hadn’t done a play in four years and I was like “Yeah, I can do Faustus.” And maybe when I got into it I found it harder than stepping on stage and just saying my lines.’

There was some controversy over the alleged rowdiness of your audience…

‘We wanted to get young audiences in and we got them, and then some people got pissed off that they were not obeying the etiquette of the theatre. And, yeah, I don’t like flashes going off, but I fucking hate snootiness in the theatre. There is a danger of driving young people away. We live in a world where people want photos. What Jamie did was a pre-set where I was on stage for a bit before the play started and the ushers said: “Take a photo at the start.” Then you’ve got your photo. But I loved it: the best crowds you get are often that school-day matinee when they’re really going for it. That’s a nice crowd to play to as an actor.’

I interviewed you pre-‘Faustus’ and you lied about Jon Snow not being in ‘Game of Thrones’ season six. Was the subterfuge fun?

‘I’ll tell you what’s not fun: it’s the biggest TV show in the world, and you are the focus of that TV show because you are the cliffhanger. That was frankly very disturbing, I didn’t like it. It was a trivial lie, but I was still lying to people. I just don’t even talk about the new season of “Thrones” – you say the smallest thing and somebody will invent something around it. It’s a trap.’

When will ‘Game of Thrones’ be over for you?

‘That’s a good question. When will it be over? It will be over for me when we hopefully get nominated for the final Emmys and we go to the Emmys and celebrate out in LA for the final time. On the plane journey home, that’s when I’ll go “Done!” I’m not really that sad about it ending, but I am emotional. We got eight seasons and it got bigger and people loved it and will hopefully love it to the end. I can put that on my bookshelf and say: that was a fucking job.’

‘True West’ is at the Vaudeville Theatre until Feb 23 2019.

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