It’s not hard to see why so many people shipped them. Long before Jon Snow and Daenerys hooked up on Game of Thrones, Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke were already close friends, despite the little time they spent together on set in the show’s earlier days. “He’s the person I’d ask, ‘How are you handling this? Are you all right?’” Clarke told Variety. “We were in sync, even if we were filming on opposite sides of the world.”
And though their onscreen romance ended in tragedy, Harington and Clarke’s real-life bond remains as strong as ever. Read on for a look back through a friendship of ice and fire.
Harington recalled the first time he met Clarke in an interview with Esquire in April: “I had been talking to Rich Madden [Robb Stark] at the bar and he went, ‘I’ve just met the new Daenerys. She’s gorgeous.’ And I was like, ‘Really? I haven’t met her yet.’ And then she came in and I saw her and was like, ‘Wow.’ She takes your breath away when she walks into a room, Emilia.”
“I was sort of bowled over by this absolutely stunning, petite girl with this wicked sense of humor. We became very fast friends quite quickly,” Harington told Elle in 2017. The two were almost never together on set until season 7, however. “We would see each other at table reads, but our friendship was based around doing press and meeting each other at Comic-Con or hanging out outside of Thrones,” Harington said to Esquire.
“I think we’re good mates because we, maybe more than anyone else, know what the other one’s going through a bit,” Harington told Esquire. “I think no one else other than Emilia will know exactly what being on Thrones is like, the way we’re on Thrones. That’s really how we kind of bonded.”
“Me and Emilia…we’ve followed the same path,” he added. “We both came out of drama school and this was our first big show, and we became kind of the ice and fire of it all a bit—the two youngish leads, I guess. Probably the closest to what we were each experiencing was what the other person was experiencing.”
Clarke concurs: “Kit and I are counterparts in terms of experience,” she told Variety. “We are pretty much the same age, and our characters have had parallel journeys, and we as actors have had parallel journeys. We’ve both done stupid action movies we regret and fabulous things we’re proud of, and we’ve always come back to Thrones.”
Clarke counts Rose Leslie, who played Jon Snow’s wildling love Ygritte and is Harington’s real-life wife, as one of her best friends. Harington says the three of them “have been best mates for years.” “It can get a little tricky in pubs,” he told Elle. “With two or three of us in the same show, you can attract a bit more attention than you might like.”
When it came time to portray Jon and Dany’s romance on GOT, it was an awkward situation for both actors. “The first scene we had together, we both just started laughing,” Clarke told Variety. “Why are you looking at me this strange way and saying these strange lines? You’re my friend!”
Harington didn’t exactly make things easier: After kissing Clarke in character, he’d pretend to retch after the cameras had cut. (Skip to 13:50 in this video to see just such a moment.) “Even though you’re actors and it’s your job, there’s an element of weirdness when the three of us are having dinner and we had a kissing scene that day,” Harington told The Mirror of his relationship with Clarke and Leslie.
Before the final season’s table read, Harington hadn’t read the episode scripts. Clarke told EW she sat across from him to “watch him compute all of this.” When they reached Jon and Dany’s final moment together, “He was crying,” Clarke said. “And then it was kind of great him not having read it.” All TV shows must come to an end, but great friendships last forever.