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You Know Nothing, Jon Snow: Kit Harington Disses 'Downton Abbey'

by Oliver Lyttelton
June 16, 2014 9:26 AM
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Game Of Thrones, Season 4 finale, The Children

Though it's been helped by a large number of big blockbusters, including the currently-filming "Star Wars: Episode VII" and "The Avengers: Age Of Ultron," choosing to film on U.K. soil, the British acting industry has been essentially kept afloat in the years since the "Harry Potter" franchise wrapped up by two things: "Downton Abbey" and "Game of Thrones." The two series, which are both hugely popular worldwide, both have large and expansive casts, and you haven't really made it until you've appeared in one or the other, even if it's just as a wordless butler or a guy who gets speared in the background. But is there a rivalry brewing between the two shows? If "Game of Thrones" actor Kit Harington is anything to go by, there might be.

Harington, who plays heroic bastard Jon Snow on the show, which just wrapped up its fourth season last night, is the subject of a new Rolling Stone profile (which also reminds us of the tidbit that the original pilot for the series, featuring a more clean-cut Harington, was directed by "The Station Agent" and "Win Win" director Thomas McCarthy, whose work was mostly discarded). And amidst a discussion on the class system in the U.K., the subject of Julian Fellowes' hit drama came up, and Harington, while admitting he hasn't seen more than a few episodes, says he's not a fan. "I really disagree with 'Downton Abbey' on a lot of fucking levels. It celebrates the class system, and its kind of overall message seems to be 'Wasn't it good when everybody knew their place within society?' Why should we hark back to those times? It was bullshit. We got out of that, and thank the fuck we did."

Bold words, especially coming from someone whose co-star (and rumored romantic partner), Rose Leslie, broke out in 'Downton.' But, while we'd say that Harington is perhaps being a little rosy about the idea that class no longer plays a part in British society (as you'd think he'd know from starring in the play "Posh," soon to hit screens as Lone Scherfig's "The Riot Club"), we'd be inclined to agree with his views on the rival show, which certainly feels like a deeply conservative piece of nostalgia for a time when servants knew their place. Also, it's super boring. But what do you think? Is Harington showing bad form by dissing his rival series, or is he bang on the money?

Harington will be seen as Jon Snow again when "Game of Thrones" hits screens ten months or so from now, but there'll be plenty of opportunity to catch him in the meantime: he lent his voice to the currently-in-theaters "How To Train Your Dragon 2," and will appear in TV spy spin-off "Spooks: The Greater Good," World War One drama "Testament Of Youth" and long-delayed fantasy picture "Seventh Son" in the next year or so.

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  • Let | June 18, 2014 11:25 AMReply

    While he is entitled to his opinion on not liking Downton Abbey, it worries me (not that he cares of course) that he'd criticize based on 3 episodes. More over, Game of Thrones talks a lot about class. Not to mention that the women in Downton have way more lines and bravery than all those rape scenes Game of Thrones promotes.

  • Alex | June 16, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    He comes across as ignorant, because how can he give an opinion on a show he doesn't watch? The first three episodes are not enough to form an opinion. Yes, Downton shows the class system, but it also shows the flaws, and the evolution. It's not static.

    Does he think GOT doesn't have a class system? The more I think about it, the more foolish he looks.

  • Jimbo | June 17, 2014 2:22 PM

    Game of Thrones does have a class system, and the show disses it at every turn. The show revels in showing how messed up the highest family is, abolishing slavery (and slaughtering the slave masters), having high borns claw through the snow and mud with rapists and murderers, and high-born girls becomings assassins at a time when such individuals are expected to sit in a tower knitting. The ethical and moral issues with class systems are a central theme of the show. Downton doesn't go so far, despite having plenty of opportunities within its own genre.

  • Jack | June 16, 2014 12:43 PMReply

    He's very, very right, except for the implication that in Britain we now enjoy a classless society. Not while the Conservative Party are in power, we don't.

  • Bruce67 | June 16, 2014 10:47 AMReply

    While... 'the British acting industry has been essentially kept afloat in the years since the "Harry Potter" franchise wrapped up by two things: "Downton Abbey" and "Game of Thrones."' might make for a nice line, its really total nonsense.

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