Last week, “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington went on the Jess Cagle show and talked in regards to the time immediately after the ultimate season of Game of Thrones, when he took a yr off from performing, and even checked himself right into a mental health and wellness facility. He defined that the “psychological well being difficulties” he skilled started towards the top of filming and had been “because of the nature of the present” and the various years he had been doing it. At the time he did so, a lot of the press reported that this was as a result of alcohol points, however as traditional with superstar psychological well being they had been solely within the sordid, and it now seems the reality was a lot deeper and far more psychological well being-related.
When I learn Kit’s courageous reveal this week, while I am inside a mental health facility myself, I used to be actually moved and affirmed by his braveness. It additionally bought me fascinated with the character of performing and its toll on the psychological well being of actors which the business itself, and notably the superstar publicity machine, appear solely tired of. Recently, there was a really overdue push towards extra various casting, and likewise intimacy coordinators who assist make the filming of intercourse scenes between actors safer. But what in regards to the psychological well being of the actors themselves? Where is the coverage on how you can shield an actor’s psychological well being on set? Where is the course in drama faculties or movie faculties to emphasise psychological well-being? When the job requires you to tackle the identification of a normally fictional identification, the place is the assist to maintain your individual? Where is the wholesome boundary between the place you finish and the character begins?
Since the event of technique performing (notably within the Hollywood system), immersion into a personality and the expertise of the actor has grow to be commonplace in movie and TV. Basically, consider lots of the performances that win Academy Awards, like Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull,” or Joaquin Phoenix for “Joker,” Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables” and Natalie Portman for “Black Swan” — all of whom misplaced important weight by excessive weight-reduction plan — or Leonardo Di Caprio, who really consuming a uncooked Bison’s liver for “The Revenant.” The record might go on and on. And these are all associated to bodily well being — what in regards to the psychological impact of enjoying these characters?
Returning to Kit Harington’s choice to take a yr’s break and to be handled for his psychological well being, I attempted to search out out what occurred to him. While I haven’t discovered proof that he’s a way actor, I did discover clues for what so ailed him on the present, for which eight seasons had been shot over an eight-year interval in wintery, austere areas — a present that, for sure, turned an absolute worldwide phenomenon.
Firstly, within the earlier seasons, Kit’s character of Jon Snow obtained scathing criticism from some critics and followers as he defined in an interview with Variety: “My reminiscence is at all times ‘the boring Jon Snow.’ And that bought to me after some time… Some of these phrases that had been mentioned about it caught in my craw about him being much less entertaining, much less showy.”
As properly as coping with unkind condemnations, he additionally discovered the strain of being such a pivotal character in such a present very destabilizing: “When you grow to be the cliffhanger of a TV present, and a TV present in all probability on the peak of its energy, the concentrate on you is f—ing terrifying… I felt extremely involved about whether or not I might even f—ing act.”
Later in the identical Variety article Harington nails precisely how and why his psychological well being was affected, which prompted him to hunt therapy: “It wasn’t an excellent time in my life. I felt I needed to really feel that I used to be probably the most lucky individual on this planet, when really, I felt very susceptible. I had a shaky time in my life round there — like I believe lots of people do of their 20s. That was a time after I began remedy, and began speaking to individuals. I had felt very unsafe, and I wasn’t speaking to anybody.”
It appears it was the controversial closing collection — that gave the impression to be extra reviled than beloved — that notably affected Harington. The pre-shooting table reading of the ultimate season exhibits him breaking down at what occurs to his character, or what his character has to do within the closing episode. The line between the character and him, between the Thrones world and his personal, appears as one.
In the Variety article, Harington himself defined what occurred when he shot his final day: “I took off the costume, and it felt like my pores and skin was being peeled away. I used to be very emotional. It felt like somebody was shedding me of one thing.” You can see video of the speech he makes on the finish of his final filming day the place he can barely converse however manages to say: “My coronary heart is breaking. I like this present greater than something. It’s by no means been a job for me, it’s been my life… You’ve all been my household and I like you for it.”
The final level in regards to the forged and crew of a set changing into his household can be key, particularly over eight years of filming and infrequently in very troublesome areas, and infrequently taking pictures explicitly violent and sexual scenes in a bleak fictional world. Clearly, the toll on the actors and crew is immense. The heartening factor about Harington’s expertise is that he took a yr off performing and even sought skilled assist for his psychological well being, and has now gone public about it. Perhaps some change can come into the business because of his braveness.
But I ponder if extra could be achieved to assist when actors are on set and are immersed of their characters and the world of their characters. And additionally, what in regards to the transient nature of filming and the way very intense relationships are made in a really synthetic context after which out of the blue everyone seems to be separated? Each set normally has a nurse, so what a few set psychologist? A psychological well being skilled on name for no matter misery arises, any previous traumas reignited, how their sense of self is affected, or some other deeper psychological well-being want, whether or not forged or crew.
Finally, when actors do search assist and are outed for doing so let’s not mock them and scale back their help-seeking. We know from our personal experiences that our points go a lot deeper, and the way fragile our psychological well being could be.