Beauty and the beasts: Kit Harington on how Emilia blew him away when they first met in Northern Ireland bar
Exclusive: Harington and his co-stars 'like family'
Game of Thrones star Kit Harington was left breathless by Emilia Clarke's beauty the first time he met the actress in Northern Ireland.
The 32-year-old was boozing at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast with fellow actor Richard Madden, who also appeared in the show and later BBC hit Bodyguard, when he was introduced to the Londoner who had been picked to play the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, in HBO's fantasy series.
He said: "I remember the first time I ever saw her. She came into the Fitzwilliam bar. I had been talking to Rich Madden at the bar and he went, 'I've just met the new Daenerys. She's gorgeous.'
"And I was like, 'Really? I haven't met her yet.'
"And then she came in and I saw her and was like, 'wow'. She takes your breath away when she walks into a room, Emilia."
Harington added in a new interview he thinks the 32-year-old actress looks "a million bucks" in photos as "she screams Fifties, Sixties, old Hollywood chic", saying: "She sort of has a timeless quality to her."
The actor married fellow Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie last year. They met while working on the show, when she played Ygritte in 2012, until exiting the fantasy drama two years later.
Emilia, who plays the aunt - and lover - of Harington's character, Jon Snow, stayed the course.
She and Harington are currently being watched by millions of fans in the final series, largely shot across Northern Ireland since 2011.
Harington admitted in a chat with the latest edition of Esquire magazine that he is nothing more than "good mates" with Emilia as she "more than anyone else" understands the fame they were propelled to by Game of Thrones.
The actor said he was often left crippled with exhaustion so extreme he felt "bone-tired" and looked "grey-faced" after years of long days wearing armour and carrying heavy swords in freezing temperatures.
He also admitted he and co-stars Madden and Alfie Allen turned the Fitzwilliam Hotel bar into a boozy "common room" to give themselves a break from the show's demands.
Harington said: "On Thrones, the money put into it goes into the show. There weren't many luxuries on Thrones, not for anyone.
"That, for me, is what a lot of making Thrones was - bar culture. A lot of jobs, everyone goes back to their apartments at the end of the day. They have their lives and they have their families and they have their girlfriends or boyfriends back home. They sort of isolate. That's fine. Lots of jobs are like that.
"But if Thrones had been like that, it wouldn't have been what it was. I think part of what made it successful was the fact that we got on like a family. Everyone who came in was welcomed into the family. No one was the lead of that family - it was an ensemble."
Hinting many of the cast experienced personal hardships during the making of GoT, Harington added: "Over 10 years of anyone's life, family members die, people have breakdowns, s**t gets real in people's lives.
"All of that can be accentuated in this bottled environment of being on a famous TV show. And sometimes the only people who can guide you through those problems are the people who also know what it's like to be on a famous TV show.
"That's one of those really transient things about being an actor: you become really tight-knit with a family, and then you leave. You know, you fall in love with people. I don't mean romantic love.
"But you fall in love with friends and then they're gone. That happened all the way through Thrones."