Kit Harington's Instant Game of Thrones Fame 'Was a Lot' for 'Someone So Young,' Source Says
"He took it very seriously but it was extremely stressful," a source tells PEOPLE
While Kit Harington‘s overnight success brought him global fame and fortune, it also came with a great deal of stress.
The actor’s first on-screen role was that of Jon Snow in HBO’s Game of Thrones, which premiered in 2011, when Harington was just 24 years old, after he’d been cast in the project at only 22. After eight seasons and countless praise from critics and viewers alike, the mega-hit show ended earlier this month with a divisive series finale, all while the star was quietly seeking professional help.
On Tuesday, Harington’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE that ahead of the May 19 finale, Harington, 32, entered treatment, deciding to “utilize this break in his schedule as an opportunity to spend some time at a wellness retreat to work on some personal issues.”
Now, a source close to the show tells PEOPLE that the transition from relative obscurity to the Hollywood A-list wasn’t easy for the actor.
“For 10 years, Kit was almost interchangeable with Jon Snow, and fully inhabited this intense character,” the source says. “The role and especially the level of fame he was thrust into was a lot for someone so young and just out of drama school.”
“He took it very seriously, but it was extremely stressful,” the source adds. “Ultimately, now that he has that break and has said goodbye to Jon Snow, he needed help to figure things out and be himself — to just be Kit.”
According to Page Six, Harington entered a “luxury rehab for stress and alcohol use.” He has reportedly been receiving psychological coaching and behavioral therapy to help him deal with and manage stress and “negative emotions,” in addition to practicing mindful meditation.
Harington, who is married to GoT costar Rose Leslie, has been open about how heavily the last decade has weighed on him.
“It was formative years for everyone,” he recently told PEOPLE. “I started at 22 and ended at 32 and those are amazing formative years. If you’re Peter Dinklage, you started at 35. It defines that decade of your life, and that will probably the most bizarre decade of your life.”
He also struggled to adjust to life in the spotlight.
“It wasn’t a very good time in my life,” he told Variety in March. “I felt I had to feel that I was the most fortunate person in the world, when actually, I felt very vulnerable. I had a shaky time in my life around there — like I think a lot of people do in their 20s.”
Harington said his lowest point came when Jon Snow became the focal point of the show, admitting he felt under extreme pressure.
“My darkest period was when the show seemed to become so much about Jon, when he died and came back,” he explained. “I really didn’t like the focus of the whole show coming onto Jon — even though it was invalidating my problem about being the weak link because things were about Jon. When you become the cliffhanger of a TV show, and a TV show probably at the height of its power, the focus on you is f—ing terrifying.”
After facing deep anxiety and insecurities about his new, elevated status, he decided to seek therapy.
“That was a time when I started therapy, and started talking to people,” he said. “I had felt very unsafe, and I wasn’t talking to anyone. I had to feel very grateful for what I have, but I felt incredibly concerned about whether I could even f—ing act.”
Last month, he described to Sunday Today feeling at a loss for words when it came to saying goodbye to the project.
“Thrones, it’s given me possibly my future family. It’s given me my wife, it’s given me friends for life,” he said. “It’s got a character I love, I will love, more than any other character I’ll ever play. There isn’t a way of saying thank you to it enough. There never will be and I think that comes back to the question of, ‘How do you feel now that it’s finishing?’ Well, there aren’t words to describe how I feel about it.”
That same month, Harington told Esquire that he got incredibly emotional after shooting his final scenes.
“The final day of shooting, I felt fine… I felt fine… I felt fine… Then I went to do my last shots and started hyperventilating a bit,” he said. “Then they called, ‘Wrap!’ And I just f—ing broke down. It was this onslaught of relief and grief about not being able to do this again.”