In The Last Watch, a documentary about behind-the-scenes teams who worked on the show, viewers saw Kit Harrington’s reaction to learning about his character’s now infamous twist. While we only saw a snippet of how the actor felt, it’s clear that there were many negative emotions bubbling within Harrington, as he entered rehabilitation for “stress and exhaustion and also alcohol” before the series ended in May.1
Other Game of Thrones stars have also sought mental health support due to challenges stemming from their fame. Our residential mental health treatment team explores the possible factors that contributed to the mental health challenges faced by Masie Williams, Sophie Turner, and most recently, Kit Harrington.
While Game of Thrones was a difficult series for viewers in many aspects with events such as The Red Wedding, the series was even more challenging for its actors. There are several Game of Thrones actors who struggled with their mental health, including Masie Williams, Sophie Turner, and Kit Harrington.
Sophie Turner recently shared her own difficulties with mental illness, citing how normal body changes were scrutinized due to the immense pressure of playing Sansa Stark. For Turner, the comments on social media affected her mental health, causing the star to struggle with depression for years. She credits her improved mental health to her husband’s support and beneficial mental health therapy programs.2
Fellow Stark Sister, Masie Williams, also struggled with mental illness as a result of the pressures of her role. Now that the series has ended, the star is looking forward to a more normal pace of life without such an intense focus from the public.
Harrington is another Game of Thrones star who has struggled with mental illness. His recent stay at a mental health treatment program shows that even Jon Snow needs help now and then. Though he has not given interviews regarding this recent struggle with mental illness, Harrington did reveal that he sought therapy following Jon Snow’s cliffhanger Season 5 ending.3
There are several common threads in the Stark mental health struggles, including pressure from viewers and even issues with personal identity from filming one show for so long. There are many challenges for celebrities and mental health, as the pressures and scrutiny of fame take a toll on their well-being. For the Game of Thrones actors, the pressures reached immense levels as the series progressed, with tens of millions of people watching the show and judging every single moment.
Harrington, Williams, and Turner also spent a large chunk of their lives playing these characters, so there is likely a large degree of sadness, grief, and loss over not playing those characters anymore. For Harrington, the connection to his character may have been even stronger, as he wed Rose Leslie, the actress who played Jon Snow’s first on-screen love Ygritte, in 2018. With such a strong connection to his character along with his powerful reaction to learning Jon Snow’s fate, it is no surprise that the actor is taking time for himself to address his struggles.
A close source to the actor has said he is seeking not only treatment for mental illness, but also treatment for alcohol. 1 This is not surprising, as alcoholism and mental illness often go hand in hand. Those who are struggling with mental illness and alcohol use disorder need to seek out co-occurring disorder treatment to safely address both issues.