We are used to seeing Kit Harington sporting his facial hair on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones as Jon Snow, the role which propelled him to fame. Now, in his new film, Testament of Youth, we will him clean-shaven and playing a romantic hero.
In the World War I drama — based on the memoir of Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) — Harington plays a British infantryman, Roland Leighton, who falls in love with Brittain in the midst of the terrible events surrounding the armed conflict. For the handsome 28-year-old, this is a departure of previous characters, and we will have a chance to see his softer side in a real-life drama.
A Kit Harington without facial hair talked to the New York Daily News about how different this new role is from what he has been doing for five seasons on Game of Thrones, where his character is pretty brutal.
“It’s disturbing being a part of storylines in Thrones that are difficult to act and difficult to watch, but I think they are very well constructed by the writers. We test people’s limits, and I think that’s a good thing for a drama to do. But it’s not reality, and we need to remember that.”
Harington — who resembles a young Johnny Depp — raved about his new role and said he read the book and visited soldiers’ graves in northern France as a student. The film’s release coincides with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI and premiered at the 2014 BFI London Film Festival.
“It’s an amazing story, and a chance to play a real-life, historical figure. I felt a sense of duty to this real-life person who had gone through the war and died. I have his ghost on my shoulder. Not literally.”
Aside from shaving off his facial hair, Kit Harington read Leighton’s poems and letters from the battlefield — published in the book Letters From a Lost Generation — to get to know his character more intimately.
“They’re f***ing amazing. This is a real diary of someone who goes to the First World War — and then suddenly, it just stops when he dies. It’s harrowing and terrifying and very emotional. It is just as invading as (fictional) drama.”
Harington is sure to add to the legions of adoring fans, as Leighton was a feminist who encouraged his fiancée to apply to Oxford University during a time when higher education institutions didn’t even grant degrees to women.
“He’s an educated, intelligent young man at the top of his class, and in some ways a leader of men and yet we look at him as an audience, and we say, ‘What the f*** are you doing? Do you not know what you’re walking into? Do you not know of the horror that you are committing to with such bravado?’ We know the consequences, but the characters don’t.”
[Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr]