Vox sat down with Kit Harington to discuss his abs and a new movie or something
This week, the Voice reviewed Paul W.S. Anderson’s latest film, Pompeii. Though the film was action packed and filled with up-to-the-minute CGI, the film failed to impress.
Vox sat down with Game of Thrones hunk Kit Harington, who plays the protagonist Milo, to discuss the film. As the Voice noted, those abs were the only thing keeping this movie from going straight to DVD.
Vox: How did you arrive at this project? It seems pretty far out Game of Thrones. Obviously the two have action in them, but working on the small screen versus the big one seems really different.
Harington: I was actively looking for a leading role in something. I want to do leading roles, and this was a good chance to do one. Now I’m going to step away and do supporting roles and interesting characters, but this one was a good one. I came through the door and it said “Pompeii,” and I thought, “Well that hasn’t been done” and it had a lot of fight scenes so I was intrigued but I wasn’t convinced by it. I didn’t know whether the script help up and I was sort of ‘hmph’ and then I met Paul [W. S. Anderson], the director, and he was very enthusiastic and it was a passion project for him and he showed me this look book of pictures and I was convinced by what he wanted to do with it. It was a good leading role and I just thought, “I do like sort fighting,” so yeah that’s how I kind of came to it.
Vox: There seem to be some obvious similarities between Milo and your Game of Thrones character Jon Snow. Milo is an orphan, having seen his mother die, while Snow has trouble being accepting in a family where he is constantly reminded that he is the illegitimate child of Ned Stark. What was it like for you to reformulate the thinking from this emotional character to this more cold one?
Harington: I think on the surface they seem like quite similar characters, because for starters, I look quite similar. And also they are both quite introverted. I don’t know why but I’m drawn to, you know that Steve McQueen story about how he just used to get rid of lines? I quite like doing that. I feel like with characters like this you lost a lot of power the minute you start speaking so I like getting rid of lines. I like for him to be silent, not say much. In that way he is similar with what I like doing with Jon Snow. The difference being, really, the only difference being that Jon is a different person. He is honor bound, duty bound, believes in doing right by those weaker around him because of being treated badly himself. He believes; he has ambition; he has drive. He wants to lead. He wants to be a leader. Milo didn’t believe in anything. And I think the whole of my approach to this character was, well first and foremost, I want to get fit, because he is a gladiator. I felt like that would get me into the role somehow. The costume had to be right. But I kind of had an image of a little bulldog, basically. He’s a little terrier that hasn’t been trained well. That’s kind of what I felt; he’s like a dangerous dog. Those are the main differences, I think, between the two.
Vox: What was your experience in being a part of a film that has such a significant historical context?
Harington: Again, when it came through the door, it said Pompeii I was like, “Well that actually hasn’t been done. Why has that not been done?” I think there was one before called The Last Days of Pompeii a while ago but they didn’t have the CGI capabilities that we have now to make a volcano explode. So I liked that, I mean liked the idea of telling the story of these plaster cast people. When the millions of people who go to Pompeii every year to see these plaster cast people I think what does through their head is what were they doing in the moments before they died? Who was this person? This pregnant woman clutching her baby, this man grabbing at his face. It’s a very emotional, moving place. And what I liked about this film is that we bookend it with these plaster cast images of these people. And it lets us imagine, maybe, who some of these people were. It lets us have a little looking glass into some of their lives and what they might have done. I thought that was a neat idea.
Vox: As an actor, you probably had a lot of discretion in deciding what happened to Milo between when he was a child, seeing his mother die, and when we see him again as an adult who is a slave. What did you envision happening to him during all of those years in between?
Harington: Initially, there was a sequence where you saw him growing up, which was cut form the movie. I mean yeah, you just saw sort of what happened to him. He becomes a slave. Then they realize he can fight. I think, basically, that he spends a lot of time in a very brutal place in London learning how to fight. They teach him how to fight because they realize that he might be a good gladiator. The thing about gladiators at the time is that they were raised as gladiators. They were taken into slavery and then raised and taught really well, fed really well. They were prized animals, you know. “This is my gladiator, this is my prized pat,” as it were. That’s why I could justify getting muscle-y for it, is because they were. I just think he spent years and years in this sort of dank, London dungeon. And this is one of his first few fights, is kind of how I saw it. He’s been trained as a killer, essentially. They’ve been treating him badly and then training him as a killer as you would a fighting dog, or something.
Vox: Would you say that the bonds formed between Milo and others around him are relevant to people, today, experiencing natural disasters?
Harington: Yeah, I think something like this does completely level the playing field, as far as social status. If you have a million pounds or one pound, the minute a volcano goes off you’re all people. And I think that’s one of the nice things I like about the movie, is what he says to Kiefer [Sutherland] at the end. Kiefer [Sutherland] says something like, “I can Corvis something something something” and [Milo] goes, “The fuck does that matter?” It doesn’t matter who you are. There’s a volcano going off. So yeah I quite like that. I think natural disasters are something very prevalent today; they always will be. So I think that we as humans like to think of what something might be like and I think this is a good way of exploring it.
Vox: I know a lot of Game of Thrones fans will be wondering about how Jon, a man of the Knight’s Watch, might fare against Milo, the gladiator. Who do you think would win in a battle between the two?
Harington: I get asked this a lot. I think, uh, I don’t know. Essentially, they’re the same person; they’re me. I think it would be very difficult to defend against two swords with one sword, you know. I don’t know. I can’t say, because I don’t want to put Jon down, and I don’t want to put Milo down, uh. So let’s just say Jon, yeah. They’re both trained warriors. It would be a good fight, I think.
Vox: What was your favorite part about filming?
Harington: I was being, and this is going to sound odd, but it was being a leading man. There is something about being a leading man or a leading woman in a film, when you’re there more often than anyone else. You’re there first thing in the morning and you’re the last one to leave. All the other actors come in and go or they’re there for a week but you’re there with the crew the whole time so you kind of become family in a weird sort of way. And that’s something I really enjoyed. I enjoyed that element about being the leading man. With Thrones, I come in. I do two weeks. I go back. I do another week a bit later, but the crew is always there. Whereas when you’re a leading man, you’re always with the crew so you become a really tight-knit group of people.