There's no hint of Jon Snow in Kit Harington's trailer for The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. But the upcoming movie about a famous actor's pen pal friendship with a young boy does take on a topic that the Game of Thrones star can relate to: the toxicity of fame. In the film, Harington is playing the role of Donovan, an actor who is struggling with the demands of being the world's biggest movie star, much as Harington himself publicly struggled after his hit HBO series ended.
In addition to Harington, the film also stars Jacob Tremblay, Natalie Portman, Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon, Thandie Newton, and Michael Gambon. The movie officially debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, per Vulture, but it took some time for The Death and Life of John F. Donovan to get a theatrical release. Critics weren't kind to the film, and it currently has a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. There were also issues behind-the-scenes as director Xavier Dolan ultimately edited out Jessica Chastain's role in the film due to story issues.
Despite its troubled path to a theatrical release, the story of a closeted actor's friendship with a bullied young boy (Tremblay) is definitely going to allow Harington to put Jon Snow behind him. In the trailer, the actor is clean-shaven and speaking with an American accent as he brings the tortured Donovan to life. Despite the differences between Jon Snow and Donovan, the characters have one thing in common: they're outsiders. At one point in the trailer, Donovan poignantly asks, "What if I don't belong here? What if I've stolen someone else's place?"
That feeling of being an impostor in the acting business is one that Harington can relate to. In March 2019, the actor spoke with Variety about his fears of being the focus on Game of Thrones. "I felt I had to feel that I was the most fortunate person in the world, when actually, I felt very vulnerable. 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*cking act."
In May, news broke that Harington had checked into a wellness retreat to seek help with "stress and exhaustion and also alcohol," as reported by Vulture. The Game of Thrones alum has since returned to the spotlight, stepping out at the Emmys to celebrate the show's final season in September, and more recently announcing his next big project, Marvel's The Eternals. Harington will play Black Knight alongside his Game of Thrones costar Richard Madden in the 2020 superhero movie. More importantly, he now feels like he's more than just Jon Snow. "I'm not just the guy from TV," he told Variety. "I'm an actor in my own right, and that's a pretty good feeling."
For now, Game of Thrones fans eager to follow the progression of the actor's career can finally see The Death and Life of John F. Donovan on the big screen and VOD beginning December 13.