The shocking death of Jon Snow at the climax of Game of Thrones’ fifth season — and the ceaseless speculation regarding its permanence—put a lot of people through the emotional wringer. But most wrung of all was none other than Kit Harington himself, and sadly not for the reasons you might expect.
Speaking in a candid profile with Variety about the impending end of Game of Thrones, Harington opened up about the mental health issues he struggled with during his time on the show, culminating in the intense attention that came with Jon’s death at the end of the fifth season, and his return in the sixth.
According to Harington, the sudden spotlight of what felt like the entire series’ focus on Jon, and therefore him as an actor, became all too much — and the stress of attempting to reconcile it within himself lead to him seeking out therapy:
It wasn’t a very good time in my life. I felt I had to feel that I was the most fortunate person in the world, when actually, I felt very vulnerable. I had a shaky time in my life around there — like I think a lot of people do in their 20s.
My darkest period was when the show seemed to become so much about Jon, when he died and came back. I really didn’t like the focus of the whole show coming onto Jon — even though it was invalidating my problem about being the weak link because things were about Jon...
That was a time when I started therapy, and started talking to people. I had felt very unsafe, and I wasn’t talking to anyone. I had to feel very grateful for what I have, but I felt incredibly concerned about whether I could even fucking act.
After seeking help, thankfully Harington’s mental health improved, and now his relationship with the fame Thrones has brought him is in a much better place. But it’s incredibly brave for the actor to speak candidly about it now. Issues like imposter syndrome and anxiety affect all of us, regardless of whether we’re stars of one of the biggest shows on television or otherwise.
The more people like Harington draw attention to that, the more it hopefully encourages others suffering from similar stresses to reach out themselves—and that’s a valuable way of utilising the spotlight that Game of Thrones has thrust upon him.
Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season April 15 on HBO.