The two sides of Kit Harington
There are two Kit Haringtons, the world-famous Game of Thrones actor says, but the other guy’s life is none of your business.
There’s the Harington who smiles for scores of fans on the red carpet, feeling like he can only fall short next to the pedestal they put him on thanks to his sword-wielding onscreen TV alter-ego Jon Snow.
Then there’s the other Harington, who sits alone in a limo as it peels away from the flashing cameras, and takes off his formal wear in exchange for a hoodie, which he pulls over his head as the attention-fuelled adrenaline plummets, feeling “terrible.”
Harington — the one who spoke to a small group of reporters Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival — wavered between charming on-set anecdotes about working with Montreal actor-filmmaker Xavier Dolan on The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and candid contemplation about the “cathartic” experience of playing the film’s titular main character.
Having spent seven years as the brooding hero in a bloodbath for supremacy over the fantasy world of Games of Thrones, Harington said he was looking for a role that rang truer to his own life, but didn’t expect to find one that hit so close to home.
“For me, it’s not about fame. For me, it’s about one guy who’s in a particularly extraordinary situation as I do find myself in,” Harington said. “That’s the reality that I live, but I’m just trying to get through my life with all my private sections and my little secrets like we all have.”
In the film, Harington plays Donovan, a TV star who confides in a young fan about his struggles living in the public eye over a years-long correspondence, the exposure of which eventually imperils his blockbuster-bound career.
In his own life, Harington said he has never responded to a fan letter. It’s an omission that brings Harington some degree of guilt, he admits, knowing that Dolan wrote letters to Leonardo DiCaprio as an aspiring child actor, one of which the director read at the premiere of his first English-language film at TIFF on Monday.
But Harington said he has to set limits on his interactions with fans, both in his lack of correspondence and abstention from social media, in order to maintain a divide between “the two separate Kits” — his private self, and the funhouse-mirror version of him that’s portrayed in the media.
It’s essential to preserving his integrity as both a man and an actor, he said. “Your job as an actor is to portray a character, and if people know too much about you because of your Instagram, because of your Twitter, then they find it that much harder to detach who you are from the character you’re playing.”
Harington said he appreciates that intrigue about his personal life is an inevitable side-effect of his job, one that he struggled with when he and Game of Thrones co-star Rose Leslie got married in June.
If he had his way, Harington said, the wedding would have been a private affair. But then the press showed up, and as the photos circulated on the internet and in the tabloids, his special day was shared with the world.
“I don’t think anyone deserves to know anything about an actor,” he said. “I think that is my right to have a private life, and just because I’ve chosen to be an actor, just because I’ve chosen to be in this profession, doesn’t mean that everyone has a right to know who I am personally. And I keep that very, very sacred.”
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