Game Of Thrones star Kit Harington has defended the violence in his new series about the gunpowder plot, insisting it is important not to “shy too far away” from the reality of execution and torture Catholics suffered.
Harington, who is an executive producer and developer of the BBC1 drama titled Gunpowder, also plays Robert Catesby, the leader of the group who planned the failed gunpowder plot of 1605.
Catesby, whose plan – if carried out successfully – would have seen the Houses of Parliament blown up on 5th November 1605, was actually a relative of Harington.
“I always knew the connection would be quite a good one to promote it with,” the 30-year-old British actor told BBC Newsbeat.
Harington said that there had been discussions about the levels of violence in the programme and insisted that it was of the utmost importance that the drama was as historically accurate as possible.
He pointed out that Catholics were being persecuted at the time and explained that the persecution and violence depicted in Gunpowder is historically accurate.
“It’s a very violent time and we have to show the violence that the Catholics incurred, that the people around them incurred, that the people in this period incurred, to show why they might have gone on and done these things,” he said.
“It was important for the story because right from the start we need to know why Robert Catesby embarks upon this very, very violent act,” Harington told Newsbeat.
“We needed to see something quite violent from the start which makes us understand why this man might do what he does.”
Harington revealed that there had been research carried out for the drama on how people were hanged, drawn and quartered at the time.
“We can’t avoid the torture that these men went through, we can’t avoid the executions that the people around these men suffered. I think it’s wrong when showing a torture scene or execution scene to shy too far away from the reality of it. You need to feel the reasons like your characters feel the terrible things they’re seeing to know why they go and do the things they do.”
The actor said audiences will accept a greater level of violence if it’s “justified” in the way he feels it is on Thrones.
“I’ve always felt, for example, if you take Thrones, I’ve always thought the violence is justified because unlike so many things we see how it affects people – if you see someone die, you see the effect it has on the person who has killed them and you see the effect it’s had on the people around them.
“And I think as long as you’re doing that, you can justify the violence you are showing. As long as it’s not gratuitous for no reason. It was definitely not gratuitous in this.”
Harington got his big break when he was cast as Jon Snow in Game Of Thrones but he admitted the fact it is coming to an end “will be liberating”.
“I am looking forward to finishing – and eight years is exactly the right time. I wouldn’t want it to go on any longer,” he said.
The final instalment of the three-part mini series Gunpowder airs on BBC One on Saturday 21st October at 9.10pm.
Picture: Kit Harington plays Robert Catesby in the three-part BBC series Gunpowder, recalling the terrors suffered by a group of Catholic conspirators in 1605. (BBC)