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Kit Harington: why the Game Of Thrones star took a year off from acting to protect his mental health

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Rose Leslie, Kit Harington attend the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“I’m really happy I did this,” says Modern Love’s Kit Harington of prioritising his mental health

In May 2019 – the same month that his breakout TV show, Game Of Thrones, ended – Kit Harington checked into a mental health and wellness facility. As per his representative’s statement at the time, the actor wanted to “utilise this break in his schedule as an opportunity to spend some time… to work on some personal issues.”

Now, during a recent appearance on Sirius XM’s The Jess Cagle Show, Harington has opened up about the toll that his years working on the show had taken on him.

“I went through some mental health difficulties after Thrones, and during the end of Thrones, to be honest,” he explained.

“I think it was directly to do with the nature of the show and what I had been doing for years.”

Kit Harington attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Kit Harington will return to our screens in Modern Love season two.

Without addressing his treatment directly, Harington said he made the decision to take a year-long break after Game Of Thrones to “really concentrate on myself.”

“I’m really happy I did that,” he added.

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Speaking about moving forward, Harington continued: “Coming back to work, and deciding what to take and what to choose, you couldn’t predict the pandemic, so just when I was wanting to come back to work, the pandemic hit.

“It was like, ‘Oh, for God sake.’”

Thankfully, though, the actor was able to find a project he felt able to get excited about; as well as Marvel’s Eternals, Harington is due to appear in an episode of Modern Love’s second season, which will air on Amazon Prime this Friday.

Kit Harrington and Lucy Boynton
Kit Harington’s Modern Love storyline sees his character arrange to meet on the same train journey in two weeks, without taking her number. But then the pandemic hits...

Explaining that he took the role for the sake of having some fun with his job, he added: “You don’t have to live in that intense place all the time. 

“Why don’t you do something that takes the weight off? Why don’t you do something fun?”

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While Harington has been absent from our screens for a wee while, he’s certainly been busy; he and Vigil star Rose Leslie, with whom he tied the knot in 2018, welcomed a baby boy together just five months ago.

And, when asked by Access Hollywood what he has found to be the most surprising thing about fatherhood, Harington said: “They tell you and they don’t tell you [about fatherhood]. Everyone goes, ‘Look, it’s big what you’re about to go through.’ You have no way of knowing that until it happens.

“What surprises you [is when you realise] ‘Oh, this goes on forever.’ Like, you don’t get a break from it.”

Adding that the experience has brought him and Leslie closer together than ever, Harington shared: “Every day, I wake up and I look after this little human and now we’re part of a unit together.

“I think the thing that surprises me most about fatherhood is you are now a unit, the three of you. And that’s a whole new dynamic you need to find.”

He concluded: “I pretty much [ask myself] every day as he grows and changes, how does that change you? It’s a beautiful thing, it really is.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on the mental health charity Mind’s website, NHS Every Mind Matters, and the NHS’ list of mental health helplines and organisations.

Additionally, you can ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies, or you can self-refer.

For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org. 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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