Harington moves to big screen with wartime romance ‘Testament of Youth’

By on June 21, 2015

Testament of Youth movie poster (Photo from Harington's website)
Testament of Youth movie poster (Photo from Harington’s website)

TORONTO – Kit Harington is ready for something different.

And the “Game of Thrones” star says that’s what he found in his upcoming romantic drama, “Testament of Youth.”

Reached by phone weeks before Sunday’s finale revealed a massive plot turn, the Brit actor avoided questions about the HBO series but hinted at what lay ahead for his own career.

For those who haven’t seen or heard about the episode, beware of spoilers ahead.

Harington’s long-locked hero Jon Snow was snuffed out in a sudden slaying, leaving legions of forlorn fans debating the possibility his character could return to the fantasy-laden series.

That seems unlikely, given more recent reports in which the show’s showrunner and Harington himself insist that Jon is, indeed, dead.

Harington’s future, however, continues on the big screen with a First World War drama hitting select Canadian cities this Friday.

“I thought it was just a great opportunity to do something different,” Harington said from New York, speaking just after his TV character survived a massive battle with a supernatural army.

Although it is set during the First World War, “Testament of Youth” has no such spectacular fight scenes or eye-popping visual effects.

In fact, there is very little violence on screen, noted Harington, who describes this period in history as one “that I actually genuinely love.”

“That was something quite interesting to explore for me _ in going off to war and not seeing the actual fighting itself but seeing the consequence of what happens to (my character) and seeing him emotionally destroyed when he comes back,” said Harington, who appears short-haired and clean-shaven for this role as young soldier.

“It’s a war told from a woman’s perspective on the home front whereas we often see it from a man’s perspective on the war front. That felt very new and fresh to me.”

The film is based on Vera Brittain’s powerful First World War memoir of the same name.

Alicia Vikander stars as Vera, a young Englishwoman determined to attend Oxford and become a writer, despite the wishes of her conservative parents to find a husband and marry.

Vera finds support from her brother Edward, played by Taron Egerton, and his prep-school friends. They include a budding poet named Roland Leighton, played by Harington.

Of course, Vera and Roland quickly fall in love, but they are separated when war is declared and the young men enlist.

Harington, who studied the book in school, said his challenge was in conveying the whirlwind romance through just a few key scenes.

“She knew Roland for about 17 days in total, that was how quick their love blossomed,” he noted.

“So I had to get across quite a lot in a short space of time. But it’s not hard with an actress like Alicia who’s sort of fearsome and very, very one-minded about what she wants.”

The big-screen role is one of several to signal Harington’s post-“Games” potential.

Harington displayed a willingness to poke fun at himself in the recent Red Nose Day spoof “Game of Thrones: The Musical,” in which he tackled a song called “Wildlings” to the tune of “Wild Thing,” and in a dinner party skit for “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in which he mocked his dour Jon Snow character.

Harington dives deeper into comedy next month with the tennis mockumentary “7 Days in Hell,” in which he co-stars with Andy Samberg as Wimbledon rivals mired in the match of their careers. It airs on The Movie Network on July 11.

“Testament of Youth” opens Friday in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal before heading to other cities throughout the summer.