Ironically, Kit Harington worked in a bookshop before he starred in one of television’s most successful novel adaptations of all time.
He then made his acting debut onstage in the National Theatre's War Horse before recently shooting on the roof of that same building – but now as lead of a film.
Harington could be forgiven for being fazed by these unlikely twists of fate, however, sitting opposite the actor – recognised by most as Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow – you get the sense he’s somebody who takes it all in his stride.
As Spooks: The Greater Good is released – the big-screen version of the BBC series – Harington remains willing to talk about Thrones, the TV series on everyone’s lips (“I’ll try my best to steer it back to Spooks," he quips, glancing sideways at his publicist).
Fortunately, unlike his Thrones counterpart, the actor knows a thing or two.
Would you rather go for a beer with Spooks’ Will Holloway or Jon Snow?
Considering they’re both incarnations of me, I’m not keen to go on a beer with either of them... I reckon Will; he’d have some secrets. I reckon Jon would be completely freaked out in a modern setting. He wouldn’t know what was going on.
What does Spooks offer as a film that it didn’t as a television series?
It’s bigger – it takes exactly what everyone loved about the series and makes the scope bigger; it has explosions; car crashes; it’s faster paced. They always felt it should lend itself well to a movie and ten years on they’ve done it.
Were you a fan of the original series?
I didn’t see a lot of it. When I came to this, I asked whether I should go back and watch it but they said they wanted me to come to the film with a blank slate. You know, because it’s a fresh thing that appeals to fans old and new.
Kit Harington and Peter Firth in Spooks: The Greater Good | Pinewood Pictures
I bet it was a nice change to film in London…
It was lovely – I’m a London boy, so it was nice to be able to go home every evening. I also got to spend time on some of London’s greatest landmarks – like the National Theatre where I began my career [in War Horse], running around on the roof with a gun. There are some great shots of London in this. It’s a real homage.
You’re becoming something of an action hero. Do you like the challenge of that?
I do. It’s not solely what I want to do; I didn’t set out to be a sword-wielding hero or Bruce Willis. I always look for what I can enjoy in a script – in what is going to make me happy – and as it happens, while I’m still young, a bit of action is quite fun.
Did you have any idea Jon Snow was going to be such an important part of Game of Thrones?
No, I had no idea the show would even be particularly big or celebrated. You never know whether the thing you’re getting into is going to work or not and that was especially true for Thrones. No one could have predicted it.
Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
Which character would you like to see Jon interact with more in the future?
There are lots. I’d like to see him have more interactions with Arya [Stark, played by Maisie Williams]. It’s been a really long time.
Personally, which actors would you like to work with that you haven’t yet?
In terms of acting, I’d say Alfie Allen [who plays Theon Greyjoy]. We’ve never had a proper scene together. He’s a very very close friend of mine, a great actor and I’d love to work with him in any capacity, whether it’s in Thrones or in a movie.
Who’s your money on to take the Iron Throne?
Daenerys. Not Jon… He’s more of a Northern lad.
If you could have starred in any other TV show – past or present – other than Thrones, which would you choose?
The Sopranos. I’m not quite Italian-American enough, but The Sopranos.
Peter Firth or Sean Bean: who’s more intimidating?
That’s difficult! They’re both equally as intimidating… but also equally as lovely.
Spooks: The Greater Good is out 8 May. Game of Thrones' fifth season is currently airing on Sky Atlantic.