Ever since the premiere of Game of Thrones, Kit Harington has made a name for himself in the film and television industry. Though the titular role of Jon Snow may have brought him mainstream success, he has continued to prove himself as an A-lister at the top of his game through other roles, such as in Pompeii (2014), Brimstone (2016), and The Death & Life of John F. Donovan (2018). From his real birth name to his royal ancestry, check out 39 courageous facts about the one time King in the North.
1. European Through and Through
Though born in England to two English parents, Harington’s ancestry goes well beyond Old Blighty’s borders. He has Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, Dutch, German, French, and Spanish roots.
2. Preparing for the Role
Harington trained for months to get in shape for his role in 2014’s Pompeii, to the point that he believes he suffered from body dysmorphia while filming. He would work out three times a day for six days a week, until the point of exhaustion.
3. “We Are All Born Mad”
Harington only grew interested in acting as a teenager. In fact, he only tried his hand at school plays after seeing a performance of Waiting for Godot when he was 14 years old.
4. Good Hair Day
There’s no denying that Harington is known for his signature long black locks, which he donned for eight straight seasons of Game of Thrones. However, did you know that his hair in the pilot episode is actually a wig? It was only after this first episode was filmed that his hair was long enough to go au naturel.
5. Sir Harington?
Harington comes from a long line of baronets (baronets are below barons on the British hereditary order, but can still use the prefix “Sir”). His father, David Robert Harington, his uncle, Nicholas John Harington, and his great-grandfather, Richard Harington, are all baronets.
Harington is obsessed with horror movies! The scary film buff counts The Shining (1980), The Wicker Man (1973), The Ring (2002), and the Scream franchise among some of his favorites.
7. Acting Inspiration
Although a natural talent, Harington didn’t study at a drama school until the age of 18. It was only after seeing fellow actor Ben Whinshaw in a production of Hamlet in 2004 that he took the necessary steps and enrolled himself at the Central School of Speech and Drama (this involved him moving back to London from Worcestershire at the time).
8. Muscle Memory
Harington took his first major film role in 2014’s Pompeii very seriously. In order to achieve the body transformation he desired (as many scenes involved him shirtless), he adopted a diet of 3,000 calories per day (now that’s my kind of diet!). In the end, it allowed him to gain nearly 30 pounds of muscle.
9. A Christmas Miracle
Harington is a Christmas baby! The English actor was born on December 26, 1986, a day known throughout the Commonwealth as Boxing Day.
10. Part-Time Job
When he was younger, Harington worked at a bookstore and part of his job included stacking and moving copies of the A Song of Ice and Fire books. As a result, he has since joked that he was initially not a fan of George R.R. Martin.
11. Dream Director
Harington is a huge David Lynch fan and has stated he would love to be in a Coen brothers movie—now that is something I’d love to see!
12. Locked Out
In 2012, Harington suffered a broken ankle after attempting to climb into his apartment through a window after locking himself out. The result? The crew on Game of Thrones had to find a way to shoot his scenes without it being clear he had an injury. Harington apparently felt so bad for this extra work that he gifted a bottle of vintage to the production manager on set. That’ll teach him not to forget his keys!
13. Backup Plan
Harington’s childhood dream? To grow up and be a journalist or cameraman—though I think it’s fair to say his reality surpassed his childhood expectations!
14. Skirting the Law
Harington admitted to revealing a major Game of Thrones plotline to an officer after he was pulled over for speeding in between seasons five and six. The officer said that if he told him the truth about whether Jon Snow was actually dead, he would let him go. Harington obliged and got out of the ticket. You gotta do what you gotta do!
You never know where you might meet a fellow celebrity! Harington’s friendship with English singer Ed Sheeran (who later guest-starred on Game of Thrones) all began in a washroom. The two first met after striking up a conversation while standing at neighboring urinals.
16. The Royal Wedding
Harington began dating actress Rose Leslie while the two were co-starring in Game of Thrones. Leslie played his onscreen love interest in season three of the hit series. The pair announced their engagement in September 2017 (it was even published in the London-based newspaper The Times) and were wed in Scotland on June 23, 2018.
17. All Natural
In case we didn’t make it clear, Harington worked out on a near-daily basis in order to develop the chiseled six-pack he sported in Pompeii. When the movie poster, which featured a shirtless Harington in his gladiator costume, was first released, fans claimed that his abs weren’t real and had been edited. This led to director Paul W.S. Anderson stating publicly that Harington’s abs were in fact real, and no makeup or editing of any kind had been done.
18. Scaredy Cat
Everyone’s afraid of something—and that includes Harington. The Game of Thrones star has admitted to being petrified of spiders, needles, and flying (he prefers to travel by train or car when he can).
19. Co-Star Chemistry
Canadian actress Carrie-Anne Moss shared the silver screen with Harington twice in just two years. The pair starred in Silent Hill: Revelation and Pompeii. If only that Game of Throne/Matrix fan-fiction had come to pass, then it would have been three times!
20. Swapping A-Listers
Harington starred in 2016’s Brimstone, but it turns out he wasn’t the first person hired for the role. Robert Pattinson was originally offered and had accepted the role, but later dropped out due to a scheduling conflict. Ol’ “second fiddle” Harington was brought in as a replacement.
21. Dragon Play
In 2014, Harington voiced the character of Eret in How To Train Your Dragon 2. At one point during the film, the character Astrid says the line, “Don’t you know anything?” to Eret. This line is a direct nod to the famous “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” line spoken by Ygritte in Game of Thrones.
22. Natural Brunette
We’ve known Harington with a black, curly mane for as long as we can remember at this point, but this wasn’t always the case. Harington’s natural hair color is actually dark brown, but the network asked him to dye it black for Game of Thrones.
23. Rocky Start
Harington claims that his acting in the original pilot of Game of Thrones (which was rejected by HBO) was absolutely terrible. The show’s creators even made jokes about posting the unseen footage on the internet if Harington complained too much on set. This is proof that even for major Hollywood A-listers, it takes time to get into the rhythm of things!
24. Poet at Heart
Harington’s birth name is Christopher Catesby Harington. His mother, Deborah Jane Catesby, chose the name because of her fondness for sixteenth-century English poet, Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe famously went by his nickname, Kit, which also led to Harington being called Kit.
25. Don’t Forget to Flush
Fun fact! John Harington, who happens to be an ancestor of Kit Harington, invented the flushing toilet in the late sixteenth century. The common nickname for a toilet, “the john,” is a nod to the inventor’s first name.
26. Friendly Rivalry
For those who don’t remember, the pilot episode of Game of Thrones featured a shirtless scene involving Harington, along with Alfie Allen and Richard Madden. Apparently, the actors had a little friendly competition going on behind the scenes to see who could look the best on-screen. This involved the three actors flexing their muscles while filming and doing push-ups right before the camera started to roll.
27. Break A Leg
War Horse marked Harington’s stage debut in 2008. He played the part of Alfred, his first professional acting role, and it was performed at the National Theatre and West End, both in London. Owing to this experience, and the many plays he’s starred in since, Harington considers himself to be a theater actor through and through.
Harington worked closely with personal trainer Nuno Capitao de Salles while preparing for the role of Milo in Pompeii (2014). His trainer was even on set during shooting and reportedly stood behind the camera, reminding Harington to contract and flex his abs so they could look as good as possible on screen.
29. Harrowing Experience
As a young child, Harington nearly perished in a swimming pool. According to Harington himself, he was very close to drowning and was mere “seconds” from the end before being rescued.
30. Ensemble Cast
Given the ensemble cast that made up Game of Thrones, it was impossible to feature every actor in every episode of the series. In fact, no character appeared in every single episode. However, Harington did make an appearance in each episode of seasons seven and eight.
31. Opposing Sides
Harington has quite the family history. He’s related to Robert Catesby and James I, who were both involved (albeit on opposite sides) of the famous Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Lord Harington, another distant relative, also played a role in the event, as he was in the Houses of Parliament at the time that the plot was attempted.
32. Dramatizing History
His family’s connection to the Gunpowder Plot is what led Harington to get involved with BBC’s three-part miniseries about the very same event. Not only did Harington star in the made for television series, he also wrote and executive produced it.
With a show as big as Game of Thrones, you can bet its stars are bringing in the big bucks. Harington reported earned £2 million per episode in 2017, making him one of the highest-paid actors on television at the time.
34. Cinematic Debut
Though he wouldn’t nab the lead in a film until 2014’s Pompeii, 2012’s Silent Hill: Revelation marked Harington’s debut on the silver screen. The role brought him even more success, garnering him the Actor of the Year award at the Young Hollywood Awards in 2013.
35. Home Grown
Despite achieving mainstream success in the television and film industries, Harington decided not to settle down in Los Angeles, and instead has remained in his native country. He bought a home in the Canonbury borough of London in 2015, and more recently purchased a 15th-century country estate in Suffolk.
36. Giving Back
Harington has never shied away from charity work. In fact, in April 2016, he was named a patron of Longlands Care Farm. This charity helps support disadvantaged adolescent children who are struggling with education.
37. Commercial Success
Ever since Game of Thrones launched the actor into superstardom, Harington has partnered with a number of international brands to become a spokesperson. From 2014 until 2015, he was the face of Jimmy Choo. In 2016, he represented Nissan, promoting the Infiniti Q60. Finally, in 2017 he became the spokesman for Dolce & Gabbana’s new male fragrance, The One.
38. Take Two
Brimstone (2016) also starred Carice van Houten as Anna. This marked Harington’s second time collaborating with van Houten, after their shared work experience on Game of Thrones. Van Houten played Melisandre on the HBO show, while Harington, of course, portrayed Jon Snow.
39. Christopher Harington
Believe it or not, Harington didn’t know that his first name was Christopher until he was eleven years old. His family had called him Kit his whole life, and he hadn’t realized until then that it was just a nickname.