HBO

'Jon Snow' likes to play more than 'Game of Thrones'

April 4, 2014: 3:18 PM ET

Kit Harington, a star of HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's bestselling books, talks technology, videogames, and season 4.

By John Gaudiosi

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in HBO's Game of Thrones.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in HBO's 'Game of Thrones.'

FORTUNE -- Kit Harington -- or as you probably know him, Jon Snow -- seems to be everywhere these days. He's on the big screen in Pompeii, is heard in the movie previews for How to Train Your Dragon 2, and his face is featured in the wave of advertising for the much-anticipated season four of HBO's series, Game of Thrones.

Harington credits fan word-of-mouth with the series' growth in popularity. "When it first came to light, it was interesting that maybe only the book readers were watching, and there's a lot of them out there," he said. "Then the more they started telling their friends to watch it, the more it grew." The anticipation for season four has further illustrated the show's rise. "It seems like everyone has heard of it, and that's incredible to me."

Out of the gate, HBO focused more on the characters from the warring Houses and built up the complex and ruthless world of the series. The show's success has allowed the latest technology and special effects to further immerse fans within this world, including CGI.

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"In season one it was actually quite minimal on CGI and special effects comparatively, but as the world grows with more supernatural elements coming in; the more we have to rely on CGI," said Harington. "And now season four is by far and away the biggest effects-happy season because of the dragons and the direwolves, but also because they have embraced that world now that the audience is on board."

Since death permeates this fantasy world, and Jon Snow has survived thus far, the actor was asked how he'd personally like to die within Game of Thrones: "I'd like to die nice and happy, like at about 86 years old in a comfortable blanket, rather than being eaten by a dragon."

Although Harington does media interviews and has attended San Diego Comic-Con, he's not an actor that connects with the huge fan base that Game of Thrones has afforded him.

"I've always shied away from getting too involved with social networking ... just because for me it's too much to get involved with," said Harington. "I'm following things on the Internet. I'm following people's blogs and things, and they're interesting to me, but I don't contribute that much. Maybe I should."

What he will do is go to the store and buy the Game of Thrones videogame from Atlus, which is one of several games that have come out over the years for fans to further explore this rich fantasy world.

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"It was great fun," said Harington. "I didn't play it very long. I realized that I spend far too much of Game of Thrones in my own world to actually play along with it in my spare time. But it was very good storytelling. And if you're going to make Game of Thrones games, it should be that kind of a quest-style videogame because that's how the story is.

In addition to the Atlus game and Disruptor Beam's Facebook and iPad Game of Thrones: Ascent, Telltale Games, which received commercial and critical acclaim for The Walking Dead game series, is working on an episodic Game of Thrones series.

There's a lot of synergy between Game of Thrones and gamers. In fact, HBO called League of Legends developer Riot Games to promote season four within its free-to-play videogame world. League of Legends has 85 million players around the world today and has established an eSports league that gave out $8 million in prize money to professional videogame players last year.

"I had no idea about that, but isn't that wonderful? Isn't that great? Maybe I should get into gaming more," said Harington, who did grow up with a controller in his hand. "I was big into Mario Kart, and I was big into FIFA Football. I had a Super Nintendo, and I used to love Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, and SimCity on the computer. Those were a few that I really enjoyed, but I seemed to have dropped off as I got older. I have a PlayStation 4 at home, but it rarely gets used. I'll play FIFA on it sometimes, but they need to sort out the penalties on it so it's not so impossible to play."

Harington has a pair of big-screen fantasy films ready for release for this year. He'll star alongside Jeff Bridges in the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son.

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"It's a similar genre, but the thing about genre pieces is that people try to categorize them into fantasy," said Harington. "Seventh Son is completely, utterly different from Game of Thrones in lots of ways, but it was a fantasy piece. There's this certain type of role you can fall into or way of acting that you can fall into if you're doing these things, and it's always about trying to find the truth of the character you're playing rather than playing a genre. I don't know if Game of Thrones has helped me, but at the same time I'm now trying to move out of that genre."

But Harington made an exception when he had the opportunity to get animated in DreamWorks Animation's sequel to How to Train Your Dragon. He plays Eret, son of Eret, a new addition to the voice cast that includes Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, and Jonah Hill.

"It's more terrifying to come into an already successful franchise as a new character than it is starting one by a long way, because people loved that film, and I loved that film," said Harington. "That's one of the reasons I was so keen to be involved. I'm coming in as this new character, and what I will say is that it has such an amazing team of graphic artists around it."

There are also new videogames tied into the film, with How to Train Your Dragon 2 console games from Little Orbit and a mobile augmented reality experience, Dragons Adventure, from Qualcomm and DreamWorks Interactive. Whether or not those games will consume more of Harington's time remains to be seen. With the World War I drama Testament of Youth and the modern day spy story Spooks: The Greater Good lined up, the actor is quite busy in the real world these days.

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