In this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow’s warnings rang true, as the Wildlings made their move on Castle Black. Severely outnumbered, Alliser Thorne had fallen, and Janos Slynt went into hiding, leaving Jon to step up as a leader for his brothers at the Night’s Watch. After a night long battle, The Wall’s fortifications would hold, and Jon would lead his brothers to a temporary victory, but suffer a great loss himself.
Kit Harington also stepped up to deliver one of his most powerful performances to date. In a number of new interviews given this week, Kit talks about filming the episode, saying goodbye to his cast mates, Jon’s new role as a leader, and his mindset heading into Sunday’s big finale.
Kit tells The Daily Beast what it was like to film the epic battle, and which was his favorite kill scene.
What was it like shooting the Battle of Castle Black, and where did you film it?
It was all filmed in Belfast, split between a set and the studio—the studio being the top of the Wall, and the set being the Castle Black set, which we know quite well by now. It was two solid weeks of night shoots on-and-off for about a month, which puts your frame of mind into an emotional place anyway without doing scenes where you’re saying goodbye to actors you love. It was one of the most physically and mentally demanding things I’ve done in my life—for all of us, I think—but it really paid off. It felt like shooting a Game of Thrones movie within Game of Thrones, and Thrones is movie-like anyway, and quite cinematic. We all became very close during the time filming it.
Did you have any favorite kill scenes during the Battle of Castle Black?
There’s the moment where I smash a hammer through someone’s head. That was quite cool. You see him in the shortest amount of time kill more people than Jon’s ever killed, but this is what he’s been trained to do from day one. He’s been fighting and training to be a warrior from the moment he was born, so it’s payoff for him—getting to finally do what he’s been waiting and training to do.
Was the hammer scene, for you, like that strength game at the carnival where you hit the block with the hammer?
Exactly like that! [Laughs] It was exactly like that. You pinpointed exactly how I felt about that, actually.
Kit spoke with Access Hollywood about filming his last scene with Rose Leslie, and saying goodbye to friends he’s worked with for the past four years.
“That was pretty much my last scene that I filmed. It was also Rose’s last scene, which was really nice ‘cause we’d gone through a lot together in the series, and as characters and as actors, and so it was nice to say goodbye to her in that way — that we got to share that last scene together. And very emotional. You grow very close to your fellow actors on a show like this where you’re working so closely together and you become very, very good friends.
I really enjoyed filming that. It’s a weird mixture, isn’t it, because you don’t enjoy it and you do enjoy it and I’m hoping that it’s gonna have the payoff that viewers want. I don’t know, it’s the only time we ever used slo-mo in the whole f***ing ‘Game of Thrones,’ so it’s gotta mean something, right?
It’s a sort of really horrible moment saying goodbye to someone on the show, like Mark [Stanley] as well, who plays Grenn. I’ve worked so closely with him over the last four years that the fact that he’s not going to be in next season is really horrible.”
Kit spoke with TV Line about Jon taking any satisfaction from the fact that his warnings were right, and his new role as a leader.
Everything he’s been warning his brothers about has come to pass – does he derive any satisfaction from the fact that he’s been right this whole time?
I don’t think there’s time for satisfaction within him, and I don’t think Jon’s that person. He’s very practical. When he sees the greatest battle the north has ever seen, when he sees the army approaching, it’s everyone to their action stations. I don’t think he has any satisfaction in it. He’s just terrified. They all are. That was important – there’s no heroism in this episode. It’s not about heroics. It’s just about doing the job.
Jon’s natural leadership comes to the fore. Is this a role he likes? Is it something he feels he’s good at?
I think it’s that old quote that some men are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them. I think Jon very much has greatness thrust upon him. He’s always been a reluctant leader in a lot of ways; he just has to do his job. I think he’s ambitious. I think he steps up when he has to step up. But again, for me, it was never about proving he’s right or wanting to lead people. He’s always been that person that just has to. That’s what I like about him: He’s not vying for power. He just has to take it, really.
Kit spoke with TV Guide about whether or not Jon will be upset with Olly for shooting Ygritte, if it was hard for Jon to send his friends to certain death, and Jon’s mindset going into this week’s finale.
Although Olly doesn’t know better, is Jon Snow angry or upset over his killing of Ygritte? Was it frustrating that this little boy is the one that dispatches her?
I think that was one of the most interesting choices that the writers made. In the original script, it was an unknown Night’s Watchman who shot her. But it was one of the writers ideas … that actually this boy whom I’d mentored all the way through should be the one [who killed her]. It’s so significant when he says, “I can shoot a rabbit from 30 yards,” in one of the episodes, and everyone just sort of passes it off. And when Jon looks up and sees that it’s Olly — I think one of the really interesting aspects of that story line is going to be that Jon loves this boy and mentors him but he’s got this overhanging hatred towards him.
Jon has to be a leader. Does he take it hard when he knows he has to send of his friends to their death, such as Grenn when he secures the gate?
I think he’s a soldier, he’s a warrior. The way I’ve always wanted to play Jon is that he hasn’t gotten the sentimentality that modern man has. Yeah, of course it hurts going to Grenn and telling him that he’s the one who needs to secure the gate because he’s the only one who can do it. He knows Grenn is going to die, but after he finds Grenn dead, after Ygritte’s death, he’s not one to dwell on these things. It hurts, and he knows he has to do it. He knows what sacrifices he has to make and he deals with them appropriately afterwards.
Kit, what is Jon’s mindset going into the finale?
Harington: I think he’s a broken man at the beginning of 10. That’s the way that me and the director Alex Graves discussed it. He’s walking to his death, probably a slow death. He’s lost all of his friends really and the only person he’s ever loved. So, he’s kind of a man on death row, and that’s how I sort of wanted to end. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to him. He’s very broken, he’s in the lowest place he can be in the beginning of 10 really. Poor Jon!
On a lighter note, Kit stopped by Live with Kelly and Michael on Monday. He quickly teases the situation Jon Snow is in as we approach the finale, and reveals that his lovely locks are actually under contract by Game of Thrones, and haircuts are taken very seriously.
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