In an interview with Esquire for their May 2019 cover story, the English actor, 32, reminisced on his time playing Jon (a.k.a Aegon Targaryen) on the HBO drama series, a role he played for nearly a decade. When they took off his costume for the last time, Harington said he had a full-on breakdown.
"My final day of shooting, I felt fine...I felt fine... I felt fine...," Harington recalled. "Then I went to do my last shots and started hyperventilating a bit. Then they called, 'Wrap!' And I just f--kig broke down. It was this onslaught of relief and grief about not being able to do this again. It wasn't so much about Jon. It was about not being in this world, not getting to smell those smells, fight those fights, be with these people -- the whole package."
"But the weirdest bit was when we came off set and they started taking the costume off and it felt like being skinned," he continued. "It felt like they were unceremoniously, for the last time, ripping off this character."
"I was still blubbering my tears," he added. "The costume girls were like, 'F---king, come on, get it together.' I'm being very actorly and crying. I remember going, 'Wait, wait, wait!' And they wouldn't. They just ripped. [Pantomimes sleeves being taken off.] I was like, 'I need to say goodbye.' But it was too late. He was gone."
Harington also recalled the first time he ever met Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen. Not only did Clarke and Harington go on to become good friends, but their characters (spoiler alert!) play love interests on-screen.
"I remember the first time I ever saw her," Harington recalled. "She came into the Fitzwilliam bar. I had been talking to Rich Madden at the bar and he went, 'I've just met the new Daenerys. She's gorgeous.' And I was like, 'Really? I haven't met her yet.' And then she came in and I saw her and was like, 'Wow.'"
"She takes your breath away when she walks into a room, Emilia," he continued. "I think we're good mates because we, maybe more than anyone else, know what the other one's going through a bit. I don't mean to sound like we're going through the worst thing in the world. But I think no one else other than Emilia will know exactly what being on Thrones is like, the way we're on Thrones. That's really how we kind of bonded."
Like Harington, all of the young stars grew up while filming the series over the years. The actor explained how he became a kind of older brother to his on-screen half-siblings (er, cousins) Isaac Hemstead-Wright (Brandon Stark), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark).
"I haven't got any little sisters or little brothers. I've got one older brother. But I guess if I were to say, 'What's the closest thing I have to a younger sibling?' it would be Isaac, Maisie, and Sophie, just from a shared experience. I mean, it's a weird thing seeing someone like Sophie grow from thirteen, fourteen -- I can't remember how old she was when she started the show -- to now, when she's twenty-three years old and engaged."
"Sophie and Isaac grew past me!" he added. "Each year, they'd come back and they'd just be taller. I'd go from looking down at them to looking up at them. Now they pat me on the head. I used to pat them on the head, ruffle their hair. Now Sophie ruffles my hair."
"Game of Thrones" airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on HBO