I have a love-hate relationship with Game of Thrones and the books that inspired it. For one, when I read the books, I had a rather nasty experience that is better told in another blog post. For another, the show is one of those shows you don’t really enjoy watching in large spurts, but rather on short YouTube clips.
Game of Thrones was a live-action morbid fantasy series based on the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin. It covers a succession claim to a throne that leads to a bloody civil war, a family of nobles whom the war separates, and a mysterious girl in the East learning to tame dragons. The series is dense, covering multiple viewpoints, and has a lot of death. The television adaptation does its best to abide by the plotlines, but they had to improvise their ending because the books have not finished yet. George has no deadline as far as we know to finish books six and seven.
Kit Harington plays Jon Snow, one of the Stark children. He’s illegitimate and decides to seek his fortune by volunteering for guarding a Wall in the North. While there he has to hear of his family getting embroiled in war and can never leave his post. Eventually, he finds a loophole, but things get so bad that by the end of the series the Wall’s shenanigans seem like mercy compared to Westeros politics.
In addition, Kit has also lent his voice to Eret son of Eret in the How to Train Your Dragon film series. Before the third movie came out, he did a green screen “audition” video with Toothless. During it, he lampshades some of the Game of Thrones inconsistencies and gets love tackled by Toothless. It’s a bit harder to watch knowing Kit had those complaints in real life about the show.
Kit Harrington and all of the Game of Thrones cast have been good sports about the nonsense they have to portray. We’ve had dignified and undignified death, rape and pillage, onscreen torture, and worse. Sophie Turner had to sacrifice her dignity before her character could get some revenge. That’s why it hurts a lot to learn that Kit has entered rehab due to the stress of filming the last season and that he needs some peace and quiet.
The man gave us his all. Game of Thrones was a stressful show to watch, and it must have been worse for the stage crew and actors that had to deal with the plot holes, inconsistent characterization, and ultimately depressing deaths that would follow. When you act, you have to make sure your characters are convincing. Many actors in real life and fiction reference how playing characters can affect them off-camera, like the late Bob Hoskins hallucinating after portraying Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where he had to interact with “animated characters” that were added later. It’s depressing how fiction and reality can blend.
Game of Thrones fans en masse have shown their love by raising money for Kit’s favorite charity, as well as the foundation that co-star Emilia Clarke created for brain-injury rehabilitation. It’s a way to show solidary in the face of all the scriptwriting nonsense. Even if we dislike where the show went, the actors gave their all.
I hope you feel better, Kit. There will be nicer, 3D animated dragons waiting for you.