Director Richard Curtis on How He Leveraged the ‘Spicy’ Real-Life Romance of Two ‘Game of Thrones’ Stars in New Climate Crisis Short Film

I remember once watching an episode of “Game of Thrones” and thinking to myself: “My brother-in-law is right. My films are pathetic.”

“Game of Thrones” has deadly dragons, I’ve got lukewarm cups of tea. They’ve got epic battles, I’ve got people being slightly off with each other. At the end of my films two people kiss – at the end of their episodes they cut each other’s heads off.

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So imagine my surprise and delight when I found myself on the phone to two of the stars of the show themselves: Kit Harington and Rose Leslie (who played Jon Snow and Ygritte). It wasn’t, alas, to talk them into appearing in “Notting Hill Apocalypse” or something juicy that would turn my career around. But on the other hand, it was about the gravest threat facing us all – not the Night King, but climate change.

And a couple of weeks later, we were all filming together for Make My Money Matter, a nonprofit I founded to raise awareness about climate change. Our new campaign highlights the hidden relationship between the U.K.’s largest high street banks and the fossil fuel industry and how this drives the climate emergency.

The plot is simple: a couple are having therapy – with some added spice because Kit and Rose are married in real life. At first, you think it’s really them: she’d like him to be more open about their relationship, he’s too busy thinking about his public image. But as it goes on, the twist is revealed – Kit is a banker, Rose is an oil executive – and what is playing out is the hidden relationship between the banks where you and I keep our money and the oil companies they are financing with billions of dollars.

It’s a grim message but so is our banks’ continued support of fossil fuel expansion. Because, despite their promises to go green, new research shows that in 2022 alone the big five U.K. high street banks – Barclays, HSBC, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds – provided over $37 billion to oil and gas companies.

In fact, since the Paris Climate Agreement was struck in 2015, these five banks have provided over $140 billion to the world’s biggest fossil fuel expanders. This is despite clear guidance from the International Energy Agency, the U.N., and thousands of leading scientists that fossil fuel expansion will cause catastrophic climate change.

Not only is this bad for the planet, it is also bad for banks – a toxic relationship with an industry at increasing risk of climate litigation, government regulation and stranded assets. And it’s also wildly unpopular. Our research shows almost half of U.K. bank account holders would consider moving to a bank that does not support fossil fuel expansion, while just 12% of customers think their bank is doing enough to fight climate change. The evidence is clear – people want their banks tackling the climate crisis, not fuelling the fire.

Our call to action is straightforward: for banks to listen to the science, listen to their customers and immediately stop financing oil, gas and coal expansion. That doesn’t mean an end to all fossil fuels immediately. There of course will be an ongoing need for fossil fuels as we transition to renewable energy. But it does mean no money for new oil and gas fields – and no money for those companies involved in this dangerous practice.

When we started our campaign, asks like this might have seemed radical but thankfully not so now. In recent months, we’ve seen some banks like Lloyds take important first steps, ruling out direct finance for new oil and gas. If this were “Game of Thrones” it’s all still a bit Season 1 – a few minor clashes. But the real battles are still to come.

That’s because we know that the vast majority of money banks provide to oil and gas companies - around 90% of it - is general corporate finance. We also know that not a single major fossil fuel company has committed to ending expansion.

As a result, Make My Money Matter believes that any general finance provided by banks to the fossil fuel sector still support dangerous fossil fuel expansion. That’s why it is so important that banks put fossil fuel companies who remained committed to developing new oil and gas on notice unless they change their ways.

At the end of the film, Kit, the banker, says to Rose, the oil executive: “It’s you. It’s always been you.” As they lock in a steamy embrace it seems like this toxic relationship may be never-ending. But our campaign shows it doesn’t have to be that way. By asking citizens to make their money matter for the planet we believe we can help end the dangerous relationship that exists between our banks and fossil fuel expansion and start a new one. One where our banks fund the solutions to the world’s problems, not the causes.

So I ask anyone who banks with Barclays, HSBC, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds to ask them to stop – or they might just lose their customers as they lead us into losing the battle against climate change.

You can watch our short film below and call on the Big Five U.K. high street banks to stop financing fossil fuel expansion over at

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