10 Facts About Kit Harington

John Phillips, Getty Images for Jameson
John Phillips, Getty Images for Jameson

by Lindsey Young

Everyone knows Kit Harington for his role as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. But there's probably a lot you don't know about the London-born actor, who was born on December 26, 1986 (including the fact that he hates celebrating his birthday).

1. His real name is Christopher—but even he didn't know that until his pre-teens.

Michael Buckner, Getty Images For Entertainment Weekly

Christopher Catesby Harington was born in west London on December 26, 1986. But as he has always gone by Kit, it wasn't until Harington was 11 years old that he found out his real name was "Christopher."

2. He was named after Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe.

Harington is named after famed playwright Christopher "Kit" Marlowe, who was an inspiration to William Shakespeare as well as Harington's mother, Deborah Jane Catesby, who is also a playwright. Harington himself dabbles in poetry-writing, though he told The Huffington Post that, "It’s terrible poetry. I would never ever ever read it to anybody. But I do write, I do write poems."

3. He began his career on the stage, in the original production of War Horse.

While still attending the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama (he graduated in 2008), Harington landed the lead role in the National Theatre's original production of War Horse. In 2009, when the show transferred to the West End's New London Theatre, Harington continued playing the role of Albert, which brought him much acclaim. It was also the role that led him to the part of Jon Snow: one of the producers for Game of Thrones saw Harington in War Horse and asked him to come in for an audition.

4. He is only 5’8".

Though Harington is a force to be reckoned with on Game of Thrones, the actor is actually only 5’8". 
He once recalled a story about how a woman "came up to me at a bar and said 'OMG OMG you look just like Jon Snow.' and I said 'Well, I am.' And she was like, 'Nah, he’s much taller than you.'" (Ouch.)

5. He showed up to his Game of Thrones audition with a black eye.

The night before his Game of Thrones audition, Harington ended up in a McDonald's late at night with a woman he was dating. Because it was crowded, they grabbed a seat at a table with another couple, whom they didn't know. Shortly thereafter, the man across from them began making rude comments to Harington's date. Unfortunately, it was only after Harington stood up and challenged the stranger that realized just how tall his would-be opponent was. "I got battered," Harington admitted, and ended up with a fresh shiner. On the bright side, he thinks that his damaged face is part of what landed him the role. "I think that man who punched me in the face may have helped me get the job," he said. "So if you're watching, thank you."

6. He wore a wig for the original Game of Thrones pilot.

No, Harington's dark curly locks were not always his signature trademark. Although he later became contractually obligated to keep his hair long for the role of Jon Snow, that wasn't the case when they shot the original pilot for Game of Thrones—the one that never aired, not the one you remember. Harington, for one, is happy that it never saw the light of day. "I had a horrible wig on," he told BBC Breakfast in 2016.

Though that's not the sole reason he's glad they reshot it, though. "The pilot really didn’t work," Harington said. “No one’s ever seen it, it’s in some back room somewhere, and I’d like it to stay there!”

7. He's extremely claustrophobic, which posed an issue while shooting an iconic game of thrones scene.

While filming Game of Thrones's season six episode, "Battle of the Bastards," Harington had to come to terms with his extreme claustrophobia. "I've got a few fears, spiders being one of them," he told the Belfast Telegraph in 2017. "But the worst is my claustrophobia—I'm mortally afraid of crowds. I panic." He went on to describe the climactic scene in the episode as "one of the most terrifying ... and most uncomfortable" things he has ever done.

8. He's related to the guy who invented the flushable toilet.

When asked by Elle about the rumors that he is distantly related to John Harington, the man who invented the first flushable toilet (which was created for Queen Elizabeth I), Harington confirmed that, "That's 100 percent true. It's called 'the John Harington.'" Which is reportedly where the slang term "the john" originated. As for Kit, he's just people don't refer to the toilet as "the Harington."

9. He was forced to reveal Jon Snow's fate to get out of a speeding ticket.

Rich Polk, Getty Images for IMDb

After being sworn to secrecy about his fate in the sixth season, Harington was forced to give up the answer after being pulled over for speeding. The officer, a fan of the show, gave him two options: either deal with the punishment for speeding or tell him whether Jon Snow would live or die in the next season. Harington initially thought the man was joking, but after a second look he told him: “I am alive next season.” To which the officer responded, “On your way, Lord Commander."

10. He gets grumpy on his birthday.

December babies have long complained about the challenges of being able to truly celebrate the occasion. (The "dual" birthday-Christmas gift is a particularly annoying tradition.) But being born the day after Christmas—which is its own holiday, Boxing Day, in England—has always been a bummer for Harington. "I always end up getting really grumpy and selfish on my birthday," he told W Magazine, explaining that "I never get enough attention."

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10 Fascinating Facts About Samuel L. Jackson

SUHAIMI ABDULLAH/GETTY IMAGES
SUHAIMI ABDULLAH/GETTY IMAGES

If you watch enough movies, you’re bound to spot Samuel L. Jackson. The 71-year-old star (he'll turn 72 on December 21, 2020) is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood, appearing in Oscar-winning films like Pulp Fiction (1994) as well as blockbuster franchises like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From his background as an activist to the origin of his R-rated catchphrase, here are some things you should know about the Oscar-nominated actor.

1. Swearing helped Samuel L. Jackson manage his stutter.

Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

Before he was one of Hollywood's most accomplished actors, Samuel L. Jackson had trouble speaking in front of others. He was bullied for his stutter as a child, and he avoided talking in school for nearly a year because of it. He eventually took the initiative to treat the issue on his own by researching breathing techniques at the library. He also came up with a unique anchor word: motherf***er. The expletive that helped him manage his speech impediment would also become his professional calling card later in life.

2. Samuel L. Jackson was an usher at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral.

The assassination of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 thrust a young Jackson into the Civil Rights Movement. Jackson, who was a sophomore at Morehouse College at the time, flew from Atlanta to Memphis a few days later to march in support of a garbage workers' strike. Back in Atlanta, he agreed to be an usher at MLK’s funeral when he heard they needed volunteers. In 2018, he wrote about the experience for The Hollywood Reporter, saying, “I remember seeing people like Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier. People that I thought I'd never see, let alone have a relationship with later on in life. The funeral was pretty much a blur.” He later staged a lock-in at his college that got him suspended.

3. Samuel L. Jackson almost became a marine biologist.

Jackson attended college in the 1960s with the intention of becoming a marine biologist. After he held the lock-in at Morehouse, he saw a performance by the Negro Ensemble Company that inspired him to pursue acting. When his suspension ended, he switched his major to drama and joined the theater group that inspired him.

4. Samuel L. Jackson was a stand-in on The Cosby Show.

Before he made it big in Hollywood, Jackson worked as a stand-in for Bill Cosby during tapings of the sitcom. "I was the right height, and I was the right skin tone," Jackson told Vulture in 2012 about the gig. "We did the blocking, while they did the camera choreography because it was a three-camera show. For two to three years, they would put his crazy sweaters on me."

5. Samuel L. Jackson's famous Jurassic Park line was inspired by another film.

Not long before he found a permanent place on Hollywood's A-list, Jackson played a small part in Jurassic Park (1993). John “Ray” Arnold wasn’t the star of the film, but he did say one of its more memorable lines: “Hold onto your butts.” Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp recently revealed that he borrowed the line from director Robert Zemeckis, who uttered it before watching reshoots of his film Death Becomes Her (1992).

6. Samuel L. Jackson asked for a purple lightsaber in the Star Wars prequels.

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Jackson is such a big Star Wars fan that he immediately accepted the role of Jedi Mace Windu when George Lucas offered it to him. He did, however, make one request regarding the part: He wanted a purple lightsaber. Traditionally, lightsabers come in green for Jedi and red for Sith, but Lucas reluctantly agreed to make an exception for Mace Windu in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002). Jackson recounted the origins of his unique weapon on The Graham Norton Show: “We had this big arena, this fight scene with all these Jedi and they’re fighting or whatever. And I was like, well s***, I want to be able to find myself in this big ol’ scene. So I said to George, ‘You think maybe I can get a purple lightsaber?’”

7. Samuel L. Jackson is the highest grossing actor of all time.

Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in more than 150 movies, including blockbuster franchises like Star Wars and several of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including The Avengers series. So it’s not surprising that the actor has earned the distinction of being Hollywood’s highest-grossing actor. The combined box office earnings of all his films—which includes Avengers: Endgame, the biggest money-maker of all time—add up to more than $13 billion worldwide.

8. Samuel L. Jackson has his own wig consultant.

Jackson is bald in real life, but he has sported many iconic hairstyles over the course of his movie career. His ‘dos have become such a big part of his on-screen personas that he employs his own personal hair stylist and wig consultant. Robert L. Stevenson has used Jackson’s head as a canvas on dozens of films.

9. Samuel L. Jackson appears in Kill Bill Vol. 2.

After first collaborating with director Quentin Tarantino on Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown (1997), Jackson made a brief cameo in his Kill Bill series. The next time you watch Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004), pay close attention to Rufus the wedding piano player—he’s played by a familiar face.

10. You can hear Samuel L. Jackson on Amazon’s Alexa.

Jackson is known for his distinctive voice and colorful vocabulary. In 2019, the actor lent his vocal talents to Amazon’s Alexa. The Samuel L. Jackson Alexa option has many of the same capabilities as regular Alexa, including playing music, setting your alarm clock, and singing “Happy Birthday.” You can even let the feature use swear words for a more authentic experience.