At the 2016 Emmy Awards, Game of Thrones's Kit Harington and Mr Robot's Rami Malek competed against each other in the category of best supporting actor. Although Malek ultimately took home the prize, in W's Royals portfolio the two actors are side by side in the TV category. Harington is the classic royal, thanks to his portrayal of Jon Snow over the past six seasons. Before the fantasy series exploded and he became a sex symbol, he was just an unknown stage actor in London who got into fights in McDonald's.

What was the first thing you auditioned for?First ever thing I auditioned for? Would have been to get into drama school. I auditioned for those. But first professional job I ever auditioned for was a BBC comedy and I think when you're coming out of drama school you like put so much effort and onus on that one audition. I can't even remember what it was now, but I remember being so nervous for it.

Did you get it?No. No, and then that felt like the biggest thing in the world as well. I didn't get the job. "Oh, my god, I'm terrible." And then I got, I got a job soon after that.

What was the first job that you got?First job I got was War Horse. It was the play War Horse. I know. Landed on my feet with that. [It] was my first job. They needed a young man who could look prepubescent, and back then I fitted that bill. So I looked like a prepubescent boy, and that was just the ticket for War Horse. So I played the lead boy in War Horse.

And War Horse led to Jon Snow, right?Kind of indirectly, but yeah, I think the producers had seen me in War Horse. They were auditioning everyone for Jon Snow, every young man in the UK was going out for it. But yeah, I said, "No," to carrying on with this. Amazing these little decisions that you make in life. Or things could have gone a completely different direction. I said, "No," to carrying – I really thought about it, and I was gonna carry on with the play for another six months. It was good money. And then I said, "No, no. I've got to go off and do other things." And that's when the Jon Snow role came up.

Photographs by Mario Sorrenti, Styled by Edward Enninful.

Do you remember the audition for Jon Snow?I had a black eye. I'd been in a fight the night before. I think it gave me like some kind of toughness, like false toughness. They thought I was a scrapper.

I'd got in this fight with this guy in McDonalds. I went into the McDonald's with this girl I was sort of dating at the time. And it was late at night, and there was no seats, and we went to sit down. We like asked this guy and this girl he was with if we could sit on the same table as them. And they said, "Yes." They said, "That's fine." And we sat down, and quite quickly he started being really rude to the girl I was with, calling her names and we were like, I don't know, "We'll, you know, we'll just finish off here. We don't need trouble, and then, and then go."

And then he called her something like an ugly pig or something worse, and I got up said, "No, no, you can't, can't call her that. Get up." So I called him up for a fight, which I'd never done before. And of course he'd been sat down the whole time, so he got up and he just kept going. And I realized that I had to at that point throw the first punch; otherwise, I looked like a complete wimp. And I got battered. So then I went to the Jon Snow audition with a black eye. I think that man who punched me in the face may have helped me get the job, so, thank you.

What happened when you heard you got the job? Were you excited or were you nervous? You were committing for a long time.I remember I was about to go on stage to do one of my final performances of War Horse, and my agent called and said, "Yeah, you got the job for the pilot." It was only a pilot then. And I was over the moon. It was my first TV job. My first ever anything on film, which I'd been really wanting. And I just remember whooping. And, and at that point, I remember the money they were offering was huge. Like nothing I'd ever experienced. It was a year's worth of theater money essentially. But we didn't know whether it was gonna go. We had no idea what it was gonna be like, whether it was gonna be any good. Whether people were gonna like it. It was just a pilot at that point. So I don't know. I just jumped for joy. I whooped. 'Cause I loved it. From word go, I loved that script. I thought, "It's – this is so fucking weird. I've got to do this. This is so weird."

Who's acting royalty to you? Emma Thompson. I can't even begin to understand how she does what she does so naturally, so effortlessly, so brilliantly. And as well respected as she is, I feel like she's one of these actors that's not lauded enough. Like – she's incredible. There's one moment in my favorite moment, in any film, and it's a weird one, but it's in Love Actually, where she finds out that the husband is cheating on her. And she gets a gift, and she leaves the room. She goes up to her room and she cries. She settles herself and she comes back, and by the time she's left the room and come back, everything in her life has changed, but nothing has at the same time. And it's beautiful acting. Mark Rylance is just royalty to me. I think he is to a lot of Brits. [And] Edward Norton in 25th Hour. Amazing speech in that. I have lots of people I look up to and admire. Ben Whishaw.

As a stage actor or as a movie person? Both. He was one of the reasons I wanted to act. I saw him as Hamlet in his first job out of drama school, and I went, "I want to go to drama school. I want to be, want to be like that guy." He was amazing, amazing, amazing. Stunning performance. And in Bright Star. And, there's a brilliant moment in that film where [Abbey Cornish] learns that he's died, and she just sort of points to her heart, like there's something wrong, and it's that her heart is breaking and she's going like that. That, that makes me cry actually.

What other movies make you cry? I always cry at the weirdest things. I'll cry at completely non-weepy films on planes, though. I get strangely emotional on planes.

Did you watch a movie on the plane coming here? Yes, and I did have a little cry. Maybe that's 'cause I'm so tired. But it was a documentary about a group of Welsh, people from a mining village that bought a horse, went in on a horse together. It's called Dark Horse.

Who in the movies do you have a cinematic crush on? They’re called the same name. But the two woman that I grew up really fancying was Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers, I had a real like crush on her in that. She's scary, like feisty and scary, and, then Juliette Binoche was the other one. In Trois Couleurs: Bleu.

Do you have a favorite love scene in a movie? It's not really a love scene. It's The Wicker Man. When she's naked and she's banging against the wall.

I wouldn't call that a love scene. I wouldn't call it a love scene, but it's the first one that came to my head, which is bizarre, 'cause that's not a love scene at all, is it?

Kit Harington Gets No Attention With a Birthday Right After Christmas

Photographs by Mario Sorrenti, Styled by Edward Enninful