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Being a part of a long-running hit TV show can be a definite game changer for the career of any actor. Along with all of the potential positives, like a higher profile, increased opportunities, and better pay, someone who hits it big by landing a part on a massively successful show can also have to deal with brand new drawbacks. Kit Harington knows a lot about this, having starred on Game of Thrones for its eight season run, and he talked recently about his mental health struggles while on the HBO series, but also revealed something he really loved about his job as Jon Snow...peeing outside.
Fans of Game of Thrones were probably surprised when, just a couple of weeks after the fantasy drama came to a hotly-contested close, it was confirmed that Kit Harington had spent roughly the last month of the show's time on air in a facility in Connecticut for a "mental health retreat" because he was trying to deal with stress from the show ending, as well as some alcohol abuse issues. While speaking about the break he took from acting after GOT ended on The Jess Cagle Show, Harington opened up a bit more about the experience, and said:
I went through some mental health difficulties after Thrones, and during the end of Thrones, to be honest. I think it was directly due to the nature of the show and what I’d been doing for years. I think I took sort of a break after Thrones, where it was, ‘I don’t want to work for a year. I want to really, kind of concentrate on myself.’ And I think I’m really happy I did that.
Luckily, Kit Harington's stay in a wellness retreat and his extended break from work seems to have really helped him get back on the right track after everything he went through while starring on one of the biggest shows in the world. I'm sure we can all imagine how suddenly being thrust into the spotlight (especially at a young age and at basically the start of your career) could be difficult, but the Game of Thrones cast also had to deal with the incredible expectations of a fanbase who'd been around way before they signed on to their roles.
Many of the Game of Thrones cast became good friends (including Kit Harington and Rose Leslie, who eventually married and had a child after working together), which probably helped a lot when it came to dealing with the mounds of bad press that came from the final season of the show. But, it also may have meant that it was even harder to leave their jobs as Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens, et al. behind, because they wouldn't be able to so easily hang out anymore or have that built in support system.
Harington went on to note that the heaviness of the subject matter on Game of Thrones and having "to live in that intense place all the time," was also something he felt he needed to get past after the show ended, but don't think that his time on the show was all bad. Oh, no. Most of us are usually able to find at least one thing we enjoy about our most disliked jobs, and while that's usually stuff like great coffee in the break room or an office with a nice view, for Kit Harington it was something very different:
I remember shooting up on this incredible glacier in Iceland, and I went off to take a pee, just in somewhere in the wilds of Iceland. And I just looked out over this glacier and I thought, ‘God, I got the best job in the world.’ And that always sticks out to me because if I'm ever feeling grumpy about my lot, which, believe me, I can do amazingly, I think of that. And I think, ‘Now you've got a pretty special job.’
Wow. OK. To be clear, before noting how much he loved being able to pee off of glacier cliffs in Iceland, Kit Harington did note how much he also loved that the show led to him meeting his wife and having his child, and that he made great friends while on GOT and is proud of being a part of it. But, you know, it's hard for anyone to really dismiss the idea that this particular experience of relieving oneself at work would stick out, forever probably, in one's mind. So, good on Kit Harington for being able to find such a wild bright spot in his sometimes difficult time on Game of Thrones!
You can relive Kit Harington in all of his Jon Snow glory on HBO Max right now, but he'll next be seen in Modern Love Season 2 on Amazon, and in the highly anticipated MCU entry, Eternals (where he'll play the sword-wielding Black Knight), which opens on November 5, 2021.