Speaking with Esquire in a Q&A published on Monday, the 32-year-old English actor -- who stars as Jon Snow on the wildly popular HBO fantasy drama -- said he has been feeling "quite defiant" regarding the eighth and final season, which premiered on Sunday.
"I don’t mean to sound mean about critics here, but whatever critic spends half an hour writing about this season and makes their [negative] judgement on it, in my head, they can go f**k themselves," Harington declared.
The actor went on to say that the show was a true labor of love, and the extreme efforts of the cast and crew to make the final season come together shouldn't be undercut by haters and critics.
"I know how much work was put into this. I know how much people cared about this. I know how much pressure people put on themselves and I know how many sleepless nights, working or otherwise, people had on this show," Harington said. "Because they cared about it so much. Because they cared about the characters. Because they cared about the story. Because they cared about not letting people down."
"Now if people feel let down by it, I don’t give a f**k -- because everyone tried their hardest," he declared.
Harington went on to say that, ultimately, the biggest fans of the show are those who were a part of its production, the dedicated actors, writers, directors and army of different crew members who dedicated years of their lives to crafting one of the most acclaimed and lauded shows in TV history.
"We’re kind of doing it for ourselves. That’s all we could do, really. And I was just happy we got to the end," Harington shared.
The star admitted, however, that before he ever signed on to be a part of the series -- long before its premiere in April 2011 -- he had his reservations about the script, which he found more than a little confusing, considering the show is set in a world with a rich, complex history, as well as supernatural elements -- such as a winter that lasts years and murderous ice zombies.
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"To me, looking back, when I read the pilot way back in 2009, I remember thinking, 'What is this crock of s**t? I don’t understand this. I’m going to have to read this again,'" Harington recalled. "And I read it again. And I’m like, 'I still don’t get this s**t at all. I think it’s kind of weird, but it’s HBO and alright, let’s do it.'"
"But you watch it, you invest in it, and you go, 'Okay, I’ll buy into this world. Fine. I’m in,'" regarding the show's undeniable attraction to legions of fans.
While Harington is a staunch defender of his show, that doesn't mean shooting the final season was always a walk in the park.
He's frequently opened up during interviews about the variety of difficulties and hardships faced during some of the more grueling scenes, and in "Game Revealed," a behind-the-scenes featurette about the final season, Harrington disclosed that he almost suffered a particularly painful and hilariously embarrassing injury while filming one key scene in the season 8 premiere, which saw him flying on the back of a dragon.
To shoot the CGI-heavy sequence, the production uses a buck, which is a robotically-controlled rig, similar to a mechanical bull, that serves as the stand-in for the dragon's back. The actors sit atop the buck in front of a green screen to film the dragon-riding sequences.
"Buck work is not easy. I think what sums up the buck for me was, there was a bit where Jon almost falls off," Harington revealed in the special. "The dragon swings around really violently, like this, and my right ball got trapped, and I didn't have time to say ‘Stop!' And I was being swung around."
"In my head, I thought, 'This is how it ends, on this buck, swinging me around by testicles, literally,'" Harington said with a laugh, before apologizing for sharing "too much information."
Another reason the actor might be such a staunch defender of the series, aside from all the hard work that's been put into it, is due to the role the show has played in his personal life.
"I said to Rose the other night, I was like, 'We've been tethered by this show, a long time we've loved it,'" Harington recalled, adding that watching the premiere felt like a fun chance to revisit the series. "When we finished filming, we said goodbye to it, so this sort of feels like an added bonus that we get to watch it and celebrate it now."