Content warning: This story includes discussions of substance use, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts.
To outsiders, Kit Harington looked like he was on top of the world as Game of Thrones came to a close. In reality, the actor was dealing with serious depression and alcohol use issues, as he candidly shares in a new interview with The Sunday Times.
In the interview, Harington speaks about the tumultuous, “traumatic” period around filming the final season of Game of Thrones, which culminated in him checking into rehab in 2019. “I went through some pretty horrible stuff,” Harington told The Times. “Things that have happened to me since Thrones ended, and that were happening during Thrones, were of a pretty traumatic nature and they did include alcohol.”
Harington revealed that at his lowest, his depression and addiction made him feel ashamed and stuck. “You get to a place where you feel like you are a bad person, you feel like you are a shameful person,” Harington said. “And you feel that there’s no way out, that’s just who you are.” When asked if he ever felt suicidal, Harington responded honestly, “I will give you an answer to that question: The answer is yes. Yes of course.” He continued, “I went through periods of real depression where I wanted to do all sorts of things.”
Like many people with addictions, Harington hid what was going on from those closest to him, including his wife and GOT costar Rose Leslie. “I will say about my addictions that I kept them very, very quiet and I was incredibly secretive and incredibly locked up with them,” he explained. “So they came as quite a surprise to the people around me. Which is quite often the case, I guess.”
Harington finally received treatment for substance abuse (“mainly alcohol”) and “behaviors” at an in-patient facility in Connecticut. He said that, due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), he was also engaging in repetitive behaviors to the point that they became debilitating. “There was something with three drains where I had to stand on the middle drain with my right foot. It got to the point where I had to cross the road to stand on one. If I missed one, I had to walk back,” Harington said.
A key part of his recovery was believing in his capacity to change, he explained. For Harington, “getting sober is the process of going, ‘No, I can change,’” he said. “One of my favorite things I learned recently is that the expression ‘a leopard doesn’t change its spots’ is completely false: that a leopard actually does change its spots.” He continued, “I just think that’s the most beautiful thing. It really helped. That was something I kind of clung to; the idea that I could make this huge fundamental change in who I was and how I went about my life.”
Today, Harington has been sober for two-and-a-half years. His time in treatment, away from the spotlight after coming home, and during lockdown have allowed him to focus on his mental health and his marriage to Leslie. After welcoming their first child together in February, Harington says life is wonderful, and that he is a “very, very happy, content, sober man.”
The actor added that he isn’t sharing his story so people see him in any certain light. Harington just hopes that speaking out will “maybe help someone, somewhere,” he said. “But I definitely don’t want to be seen as a martyr or special. I’ve been through something; it’s my stuff. If it helps someone, that’s good.”
If you’re thinking about hurting yourself or just need someone to talk to right now, you can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line. And here is a list of international suicide helplines if you’re outside the United States.
If you’re struggling with drug use or addiction, you can call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to get referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.