There was an episode towards the end of the last series of Game of Thrones that was given over almost entirely to a single battle. In it, Kit Harington, playing Jon Snow, a strong, silent warrior, slashed, sliced and, ultimately, vanquished the onslaught of the ‘Wildling’ hordes, barbarians come to storm the gates of the civilised world with their mammoths and giants. It was, to use an over-used phrase, ‘epic.’
“Season Five will top it,” says Kit Harington, matter of factly. “There’s a sequence this season which was bigger in scale in terms of CGI and the money they spent and the number of background artists we had, bigger than the entirety of that episode last year. And yet it will take only 20 minutes of one episode this year. That sequence, if done right – which I have complete faith they will ≠ should be quite astonishing. It should be a bit of a Oh My God moment.”
It’s quite a claim, if only because Game of Thrones has become renowned for being the home of Oh My God moments. Over four seasons it has killed off major characters, fan favourites and otherwise, with wild abandon, with Harington’s on-screen father, Ned Stark (Sean Bean) the first to lose his head at the climax of season one. It has also delivered a stream of extended battle sequences and set-pieces that have been like mini-movies in themselves, from the Battle of Blackwater, which used nearly 5,000 weapons, to the trial of Tyrion Lannister [Peter Dinklage] last year. This is a drama of high stakes and huge scope.
It leaves Harington’s Jon Snow as that rare beast – a good guy who is not dead. As season five begins we find him still at Castle Black, the home of the Night’s Watch.
“He’s completely pragmatic, maybe more pragmatic than anyone in knowing that they’re all going to die unless something is done about the threat beyond The Wall,” says Harington. “That’s his job. That’s his mission. That’s how he thinks.”
And that ‘something to be done,’ in Jon Snow’s mind, involves picking up a broadsword and fighting the good fight.
“Jon likes the fighting, he’s a solider, a man whose worth is on the battlefield. He doesn’t like playing politics. I think he wishes that everyone would just do what’s right, do what he knows is right.”
Which means that over four seasons Harington has become a bit of a dab hand with a sword himself.
“Because Jon likes fighting, I really enjoy it now. When you get a sequence of fight moves just right and it flows and you can lose yourself in that little moment, it just feels amazing. There was a great running shot this year where Jon travels across a piece and kills maybe three or four guys. It maybe took two or three takes to get it just right but when you get it just right, I find in that moment you can lose yourself as an actor far more than you can in dialogue.”
Needless to say that for season five Harington has had plenty of fight scenes to film: he describes the series as a whole as a journey in to darkness, bleak and brutal.
“It’s descended into hell really, in a way, and we don’t know how this is going to end. In a classic story you have that moment, that climactic moment in a classic tragedy where the audience is supposed to feel that this is as bad as it can get. Now it must start getting better. Season five to me feels like that moment has arrived.”