Last season on Game of Thrones (which returns to HBO on April 1), the men of the Night's Watch were riding off to investigate whatever it is that lies beyond the other side of the Wall, while the people of Westeros braced for war. Among our hardy band of Black Brothers is Jon Snow, the bastard son of Ned Stark, who is about to learn more about wildlings, wights, and skinchangers than he ever imagined. "You know nothing, Jon Snow" is something he will be told over and over. Kit Harington, who plays Jon, however, knows quite a bit — and he took a time-out from prepping for his new movie, The Seventh Son, now shooting in Vancouver with Jeff Bridges, to fill us in.
Seth Meyers recently told me that "we all want to be Jon Snow."
That's fantastic! He's not after my job, is he? [Laughs.] I never thought I'd be a Jon Snow type either, when I came out of drama school. I didn't see myself as the dark and brooding hero. He's a funny one, Jon, because he's not happy with his lot. Poor boy!
Do people ever call you a bastard — with affection, of course — because of him?
They do say it with affection, but yeah, people come up and go, "You bastard!" It's always interesting when one person does that, and the other person who might be there doesn't know why. It's really a weird thing.
Do you have theories about who Jon's parents really are? Because the fandom doesn't always subscribe to the idea that Ned Stark is really his dad.
I've got theories. I've got my own theory. What's yours?
My money’s on Rhaegar Targaryen as the father and Ned's dead sister as the mother. If Ned swore to protect the baby, the best way of doing that would have been to claim him as his own.
I've heard that one; that's kind of a cool one. I'm wondering if it's true. You just don't know. George [R. R. Martin] knows and [showrunners] Dave [Benioff] and Dan [B. Weiss] may have an idea, but they don't tell me. I'm just as much in the dark as anyone.
Well, what's your theory?
All I'll say is that it's interesting that a man with a moral compass like Ned Stark's would have had affairs and dalliances that resulted in babies outside of his marriage. That's my only question about it. As far as playing the part goes, Jon doesn't know, so I don't need to know. But that's what's so great about the books: So many people have so many theories! I mean, there are even theories about how Jaqen H'ghar in the second book [A Clash of Kings] is actually Arya's fencing teacher Syrio Forel in the first book [A Game of Thrones]. I always love seeing the mash-ups and fan fiction, too. People often show them to me, but I don't really hunt them out — I'm very wary about what I might find out there. But there are some really good fan sites. If I ever need to clue in my memory about something, I'll check out WinterisComing.net. That's a good site. And I go back to the books.
Do you guys geek out on set?
We do! We have fights in the bar about it. I don't mean we're beating each other up — it's pretty amicable — but we do get pretty excited about the whole thing. Everybody has a character they think should be on the throne, and if you're playing one of those characters, you secretly think it should be you. You have to have a fierce loyalty to your character.
You want it to be Jon, but Jon wouldn't want it to be Jon.
And don't you find that the people most suited to power are the ones who don't want it? [Laughs.] I think he'd be a very good leader.
A lot of the speculation boils down to the issue of who is the rightful heir, based on who had sex with whom and when and in what circumstances ...
It's kind of important. Sex is very important. And the second season doesn't hold back in that area. We go even further in our explicitness, because sex is being used as a weapon. It's such an important part of the series.
And you have some of your own love scenes coming up ...
I can't say! I can't say!
It's in the book.
All I can say is there is a girl. Whether they fall in love, I can't say. I wouldn't call it love. [Laughs.] But I can say that Rose [Leslie, who plays Ygritte] can really take the piss out of you. We got into some healthy scraps.
Well, if you can't talk sex, maybe you can talk zombies, because we're going to see more of them this season.
The way I think of it, the Others, or the White Walkers, are this ancient race of people, and they use the zombies, or the wights, to be their army. But they're not as bad-ass as the White Walkers are. I think that's what's so fascinating about this series, and especially the new season, because there's something stirring in this world, and the fantasy elements are going to play a much bigger part. We opened the first season with the White Walkers, but then they went away. And now we have the feeling that something is changing. We've got dragons, magicians, witches, zombies, loads of different elements, all coming in a subtle way; we're not smacking you in the face.
And you have a direwolf. There's some magic happening there, too.
My lips are sealed on that front! But I wouldn't mind having a dragon. [Laughs.] But being up in the North with the cold and the wolves appeals to me, so I'm happy. The wolves, by the way, are not CGI. They film real wolves and superimpose a bit of CGI magic on the scenes, so they look amazing. I'd actually prefer CGI wolves — they sort of do what they're told. Real animals are trickier.