“Game of Thrones” premiered on HBO on Sunday so now everybody knows what it’s about. Honestly, I was having a tough time explaining it until then. Even when the award nominated (BAFTA and Satellites) writer of Troy, The Kite Runner and Wolverine broke it down for me, I had to see it to experience it.
David Benioff developed the television version of “Game of Thrones.” He and D.B. Weiss wrote the episodic scripts based on George R.R. Martin’s books. While the rest of the Television Critics Association got one quick panel with the whole “Game of Thrones” ensemble, Benioff and Weiss sat down with the onliners to really explain HBO’s new epic. Now that it’s begun, we’ve got some news about where it’s going.
Season two is a go, and they have a plan for seasons four and five:
“I think if we’re lucky enough to make it to books two and three, then books four and five, five is coming out or will be finished soon hopefully, and with four and five they take place concurrently at the same time,” Weiss said. “So there would obviously have to be some shuffling of the material there.”
In the book, each chapter is a character’s point of view. The episodes will do their best to include that:
“Not so much by episode, but I think when we get into the scenes, you’re definitely thinking of this scene is Arya’s point of view,” Benioff said. “When she’s running through the dragon skull room and overhears a conversation, we’re with Arya. So it’s very much something we’re thinking about because it is one of the great things about the books and there are so many characters that you fall in love with and you finish an Arya chapter and you’re just desperate to get back to her but then there’s a Jon Snow chapter and you’re excited because you love Jon Snow too. It’s definitely very much something we think about in terms of the scenes and who’s point of view we’re with as we’re trying to tell the scene.”
Where did they find Emilia Clarke?
“This is someone we had never heard of,” Benioff said. “She was straight out of drama school. Nina Gold brought her in for a reading. 300 people were brought in and we saw her and thought, ‘There’s really something interesting about her.’ And then, we saw her in person and thought, ‘God, she’s actually really good. What has she done?’ Nothing. She had done nothing. She had done one episode of ‘Doctors’ and you would think that she would be terrified having these scenes in front of all the cameras, and with so much pressure. I’m sure she must have been afraid, on some level, but I never saw a glimpse of nervousness. She’s just a rock. And, she looks good with silver hair, which is a plus. You’re on her side, from the beginning, because she’s an abused young girl and you want to see her escape from that abuse. I think her character becomes more and more complex, as it goes on, because she has been through so much. In later seasons, knock wood, I think you’re going to see more and more of the moral ambiguity. By Season 3, she’s entirely different.”
You met Ros. How do you like her? You’ll see her again:
“There’s a character named Ros played by Esme Bianco who’s not in the books,” Benioff said. “Someone who has a short scene in the pilot and we just loved her work and kept her on.”
The wolves will have to grow up by season two:
“The first season, they’re still not full grown,” Benioff said. “So they’re Northern Inuits, which are a dog that’s been specifically bred to look like wolves. For the second season, it’s going to be a big decision whether we have full-grown Northern Inuits, or it’s going to start to be CG as they get larger than real wolves would be. Northern Inuits are not the size of real wolves.”
The Lannisters get more screen time than they got in the books:
“Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau) does get a lot of scenes, as the series progresses,” Benioff said. “He becomes an increasingly important character. By the third book, he’s actually one of the crucial characters, which we love. We love the progression of what happens to his character, but also felt it was important then that we had a sense of who he is. It’s also to establish that conflict between the Stark family and the Lannister family – Sean Bean as Ned Stark, and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister and the great Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister.”
So the first season plays out like this:
“I think it’s about power and the pursuit of power, and I think it’s also very much about families,” Benioff said. “Ned Stark is someone who has survived a couple of wars and, at this point, he is very happy to live the rest of his life in the north, away from all the scheming and backstabbing of the capital, and he is drawn back in by his oldest friend, who he went to war with 17 years ago. Because his old friend is the King, he doesn’t trust anyone but Ned and he needs Ned by his side, as things are starting to fall apart. So, Ned has to bring much of his family with him and gets caught up again in the treachery that he had hoped he’d escaped from.
More violence will happen to kids, more than even in the book:
“We’ve turned it up,” Weis said. “It’s all legal. We checked, we’re very careful to both work with the parents and make sure everybody knew what we were doing and that everybody was comfortable with what we were doing and to make sure we weren’t obviously exposing them to anything that they weren’t allowed to be exposed to, but that said it’s not [tame].”
There may be a little magic along the way, but not much:
“One of the things that we liked so much about the books is the way that he doles out the magic and the idea that magic doesn’t have a huge presence in the world, for most of the people, at least,” Benioff said. “The people within this world have as much skepticism about it as people in our world might have. At the same time, you know it’s out there. You know from the first scenes that there is stuff out there that’s not from our world. There’s a princess going around, carting around three dragon eggs. The idea that most of the people in this world are fairly cynical about the presence of the supernatural makes it fun because it just seems more relatable. There’s the idea that people alive today, within the present-day world of our show, missed the great epic fantasy epoch. So, the dragon skulls exist, but no one has seen a dragon in centuries. People talk about The Others existing, but no one has seen them in thousands of years. But, there is this great wall of ice that’s 800 feet high, that guards the northern boundary of the kingdoms. Some people think it’s there for a very good reason. Some people think it was erected by primitives because they were superstitious. It gives us something really interesting to play off with the characters.”
Catch “Game of Thrones” Sunday nights on HBO.