Jon Snow knows the right moves — sometimes
By CINDY PEARLMAN For Sun-Times Media February 18, 2014 8:41PM
Kit Harington plays a slave turned gladiator in “Pompeii,” opening Friday. | TRISTAR PICTURES
Updated: February 19, 2014 2:33AM
When the cameras are rolling, Kit Harington is invincible.
“Put me in any movie or TV fight scene. Put a sword in my hands and have a 300-pound man charge at me with a murderous look in his eyes — I’m fine,” says the star of “Game of Thrones.”
But in real life? Kit is a klutz.
In a sheepish but beautifully eloquent British voice, he confesses, “I’m always in more danger of hurting myself in real life. I’m the guy who gets bored, doesn’t pay attention and trips over his own feet.”
“I’m safe working” he jokes.
Harington has a lot of work coming his way these days, both in a new season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” where he plays Jon Snow, and in the epic film “Pompeii,” opening Friday.
In “Pompeii,” he’s Milo, a slave turned gladiator whose true love is ordered to marry a corrupt Roman senator while Pompeii is crumbling all around them. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the film also stars Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Browning.
He got the role because Anderson is a fan of “Thrones.” “Obviously Paul likes long-haired, sword-wielding, heroic types — although there are more and more of us out there these days. He says naturally I came to mind for his movie.”
The story demanded certain body type, and “buff” didn’t begin to cover it. “Gladiators were the celebrities of their time,” Harington says. “I read that they were well fed and groomed, so I wanted to look the part.” He worked with a nutritionist and a trainer to add some sculpted bulk. “We went for that Robert De Niro in ‘Cape Fear’ prison look,” he says.
First, he had to bulk up. “The bulking period had me eating over 4,000 calories a day. Frankly, you start to hate food,” he says. “You just sit there and eat and eat heavy foods. I was eating two big steaks a day and tons of rice and sweet potatoes. I had sweet potatoes with tuna in them to bulk up. In between, I drank protein shakes.”
Then came the shredding portion of his program. “I was eating almost nothing at about 2,000 calories a day and hitting the gym three times a day, six days a week for months. It was thousands of pull-ups and sit-ups,” he says. “It was horrible because that lifestyle honestly becomes an obsession.”
On the “Pompeii” set, his fight scenes presented elements of real-life danger. “All that fighting was actually fun. If someone told me at 14 that I’d be playing a gladiator and a medieval hero, I would have been a pretty happy kid.”
Harington grew up in London as the son of playwright Deborah Jane Catesby and bookstore owner Richard Harington. “I was taken to the theater a lot as a child. Since my mom is a playwright, we’d go to the theater twice a week. That was our family outing,” he says. “So you could say I got into acting by osmosis.”
Acting on the HBO hit “Game of Thrones” was the career boost he needed. “There is no bloody country I can go to where someone doesn’t shout ‘Game of Thrones” to me,” Harington says. “I can’t go to the bathroom anywhere without someone saying, ‘Game of Thrones.’ Sometimes they raise a fist in the air. This is strange in a bathroom.”
The new season premieres April 6. “It’s the most expensive season we’ve ever made. It’s hugely action-packed and a big, big season for me.”
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