The Game Of Thrones Showrunners Had A Unique Way Of Keeping Kit Harington 'In Line'

"Game of Thrones," the HBO adaptation of the popular fantasy series from author George R.R. Martin might have a controversial legacy, but it is undoubtedly a historic triumph in television. The series had a lengthy, tedious journey from book to screen, from a poorly failed pilot to eight successful seasons that earned raucous critical praise. The show paved the way for the careers of its many stars, especially Kit Harington, who had been cast in the role of Jon Snow after he graduated from drama school, at 19 years old.

Today, Harington is easily one of the biggest "Game of Thrones" stars. Painted as the ultimate brooding warrior who dresses in black and wants to be taken seriously, Jon Snow's character was a fan favorite throughout the show, and it's thanks to the actor's terrific efforts. That wasn't always the case, though. Harington didn't always walk around with a solemn look on his face and seriousness in his stride. In the failed, unreleased pilot for "Game of Thrones," Harington wore a wig and sported a clean-shaven "baby" face for his character. 

While we don't know how bad the episode was, it's said to be bad enough for "Game of Thrones" showrunners to have playfully intimidated Harington with it.

The failed pilot is painful to watch

Before "Game of Thrones" released the cluttered, unhinged spectacle that is its final season, the show had a failed pilot. And although it was never displayed to the world, showrunners D. B. Weiss and David Benioff aren't afraid of openly commenting on how flawed the episode was. They've even referred to the experience of watching the pilot as "painful." 

While that sounds rather disastrous, D. B. Weiss and David Benioff made the most of it: they used the old pilot tape to keep Kit Harington in line, in case he ever pissed them off.

In an interview with The Guardian, Harington revealed that the co-creators often sent him a "screengrab" from the episode to keep him in check.

"They say, if I ever piss them off too much, they'll release it on YouTube. Every now and then, they send me a screengrab, just as a threat."

Years later, when Weiss and Benioff were done re-working the pilot episode, they had recast characters and filmed most of its content all over again. One of the many changes made to then-23-year-old Harington for his character included him growing out his famous black curls and sprouting a beard.

"Game of Thrones" had been transformed into something darker, grittier, and more violent, all elements critical for it to evolve into a fantasy show for grownups. As the seasons went on, Jon Snow became the soul of the story, with both characters and plotlines revolving around him at the center. The rest is history.