Jon Snow may have given up many things — contact with his family, the love of a good woman, a tan — but at least he has his long, wavy hair to keep him warm.
With one season of HBO's Game of Thrones under his Night's Watch belt, Kit Harington has settled into playing the heroic bastard who's taken strict vows to defend The Wall from various northern threats for Season 2. And although he's pondered what's going on inside his character's head, the British actor doesn't quite understand what the interest is with what's growing on his head.
"It's something I never really expected if I'm honest," Harington tells TVGuide.com in advance of Sunday's episode (9/8c, HBO). "I was told to grow my hair for the part. In the pilot I had a wig and hated it, so I wanted to grow it anyway. I've never grown my hair out before and now that I have, it's become somewhat of a talking point, which is strange. I don't know why. I've got a big head of hair; maybe that's why."
At least Harington doesn't have to sit in the hair and makeup trailer long to get prepped for work. "I don't do much to it. I just wake up and it is how it is," he says. "People keep trying to give me various products to put in it. I swear I'm going to start getting endorsements one day."
Harington also weighs in on Jon Snow's flaws, his relationship with Samwell and thoughts on his mother's identity:
How has Jon changed from last season? Has he become a better student? You once said he seemed a bit slow to catch on...
Kit Harington: I kind of regret saying that. I think I was slightly misquoted. I don't mean that I think he's slow or stupid as it was put. I think he's just a very instinctive person. He'll react and act on his emotions before he necessarily thinks things through. That's what gets him into trouble. But he's grown up and has had to deal with a lot of stuff that no one would have to deal with, like the loss of his father and the abandonment of his family. He's having to bury a lot of stuff deep down within him. He has to grow up into a man. That's what I've been looking forward to this season. He sort of matures into more of a man, but grown men still make mistakes and hopefully he's learning from them.
Where is Jon in his head now that he's committed himself to the Night's Watch and is on this journey north?
Harington: In going beyond The Wall, the one thing Jon is hoping to find is his uncle. That's something that has almost been forgotten within the first season. I think he's still hoping to find that member of his family that he went up to The Wall with. He's also kind of itching to get into a real fight and to see war. It's what him and his brother Robb (Richard Madden) were trained to do growing up, to be good at combat, to actually kill someone, to defend their ground. I think that's within him, he's actually itching to get out there and meet the Wildlings and get to see some blood and guts. It's a horrible thing to say.
How is his relationship with the friend that he defended, Samwell?
Harington: It's interesting, him and Sam's relationship this season. Maybe there's underlying tensions that arise. That was something that me and John [Bradley], who plays Sam, were quite interested in and were oddly sort of upset about. There's almost a rift that happens between them at some point and it upheaves the boat of their relationship a bit.
Check out that friction in a sneak peek of Sunday's episode, "The Night Lands":
Seeing Theon (Alfie Allen) in the promo for this week, we're reminded that in the books on which Game of Thrones is based, there was no love lost between him and Jon. Theon was a ward and prisoner of war, whereas Jon was the bastard half-sibling to the Stark children. But you two are separated more in the series...
Harington: There's more in the books that he and Theon don't get on, whereas Robb and Theon do. Initially, I think there was a scene that got cut where there was a standoff between Jon and Theon. But essentially it was one of those bits that became surplus that didn't need to be in there anymore. But I think Jon and Theon, they're quite similar in some ways, but if they were put in a scene, they wouldn't get on.
What are their similarities?
Harington: They're both quick-tempered and they're both ambitious. They're both also young men who are strong and good at what they do. They're both sort of alpha types. Robb is as well. You put those boys together and they're going to fight.
Speaking of fighting, Jon and Craster (Robert Pugh) are at odds, and Commander Mormont (James Cosmo) seems to have to keep Jon in check. Would you say that Jon has issues with authority?
Harington: I think he does. It's one of the similarities I see of him to myself when I was growing up. I had a real problem with conforming or listening to people who were trying to tell me what to do. I think Jon, in the same way, he will pledge his allegiance to his commander or to whoever it is who's telling him what to do, but he'll be quite quick to step over those boundaries. That's what I mean about he doesn't think things through. He just reacts to the anger within him. He doesn't mean to diminish the commander's authority or step beyond him, but he does it without thinking.
You're a fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series but sometimes when you're reading, are you afraid that author George R.R. Martin will kill off one of your favorite characters (one of his trademarks)? Or that he'll kill off Jon Snow?
Harington: I think that I'm always one that feels that the series should serve the storytelling and if the storytelling makes it more exciting that Jon gets killed, and George thinks that and the writers think that, then I'd rather that it become a good series than that I get to stay and work. I don't know what happens to Jon to be honest. I haven't been told, but it'll be an exciting point when we get to [the end of his journey], if we get to it with the series, which I hope we do.
Do you think finding out the identity of Jon's mother is still important in the series? We haven't heard about that much lately.
Harington: I think it is important. I think you can't ask a question like that of an audience or pose something that's so big if there's no real reason behind it. People want to know now who his mother is. I don't think you can tease an audience by not telling who it is. So whether Jon dies in the series or not, it has to be — and I'm not writing the books, so I'm not an expert on the matter — but I think there has to be a revelation [about his mother] and it has to play some part in the story. Otherwise I think it becomes a thing that I think they feel they want to know and if it's a non-entity thing, it doesn't work. They'll feel cheated.
How has your life changed since the first season, now that people know the show, your character, your face?
Harington: It has changed a lot actually. I'm finding a lot more people stop you and say how much they enjoy the show. More people start seeing you as the character. And I'm flying about the place more than I used to a year ago. I've seen a lot more hotel rooms. It's all for the best so far. It's been a positive experience.
Is it strange for people to know you as the bastard?
Harington: [laughs] Sometimes you get called a bastard. It's a strange title to have. It's who he is. It's always in a kind of heartwarming way, an enthusiastic way you get called a bastard, which isn't always the case in life. It's not a bad thing really.
Do you receive marriage proposals?
Harington: Yeah, but I don't know how serious they were. Some people will get overexcited when they meet you and think you're actually Jon Snow, but then quickly take away their marriage proposal when they realize you're not.
Do you hear from people through social media networks online?
Harington: I try not to read the social networks too much. I find that way madness lies.
Check back with TVGuide.com for Part 2 of our interview with Harington, coming later this season.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.