Kit Harington said he's "really happy" he decided to take time to focus on his mental health after Game of Thrones ended.
The 34-year-old actor and new father spoke on SiriusXM's The Jess Cagle Show this week about his experience out of the spotlight, during which he checked into a wellness retreat two years ago. In May 2019, his rep told E! News he was attending a program in Connecticut to "work on some personal issues" after filming the gruesome HBO drama.
"I went through kind of some mental health difficulties after Thrones and during the end of Thrones, to be honest," Harington told Cagle. "It was directly to do with the nature of the show and what I've been doing for years."
So, he took a "break" once the Emmy-winning show wrapped its eighth and final season.
Harington reflected, "I said, 'I don't want to work for a year. I want to really kind of concentrate on myself.' I'm really happy I did that."
But once he felt ready to take on more roles, he (and the rest of the world) was thrown for a loop. "Just when I was wanting to come back to work, the pandemic hit. So I was like, 'Oh, for god's sake,'" he said. He eventually chose to play Michael in the 2021 Modern Love anthology episode "Strangers on a Train," because he thought it wouldn't force him to "live in that intense place all the time" as he had when playing the heroic Jon Snow.
He shared of his thought process: "Why don't you do something that takes the weight off? Why don't you do something fun?"
Despite the pandemic and the burnout, Harington also acknowledged that the past two years have been good to him, because the downtime meant more family time with his wife and co-star Rose Leslie.
"When you're in a relationship or a marriage where you both act... you can tend to just have a lot of time away from each other," he explained. "And what we were gifted with this was forced time together. And because of that, we ended up having a baby."
"I had a quite profound and amazing experience during this last year and a half," he went on. "Of course, it was anxiety-inducing and strange and odd. And I didn't see my friends and family. But on the whole, my friends and family are all healthy. I'm now a father. Like, on the whole, I had quite a very lucky experience."
And although Harington admitted that Game of Thrones negatively impacted his mental health, he also credits the Emmy-winning show for giving him his loving family.
"I met my wife. My child is a direct result of Game of Thrones. I still have very, very good friends from that show. It did nothing but wonders for me," the Eternals star said, before recalling a specific moment during season two when he knew he had made it big.
"I remember shooting up on this incredible glacier in Iceland," he told Cagle. "And I just looked out over this glacier and I thought, ‘God, I got the best job in the world.' And that always sticks out to me because if I'm ever feeling grumpy about my lot... I think of that. And I think now you've got a pretty special job."