Game of Thrones showrunners talk season 3

Posted by CB Droege

Game of Thrones fans are all trusting the two showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss to adapt one of literary fantasies modern classic epics, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

So far, they’ve done a great job, even better than the books in many cases, but Martin’s tale is a convoluted one, and there are lots of characters coming and going in ways that would normally gum up the works of a television shows, and will, at the very least, lead to some surprised television audiences. This just gets deeper and more mired as the stories go on, and various forces vie for the Iron Throne, the safety of the seven kingdoms, or just their own personal vendettas.

In a recent interview with Mother Jones, the showrunners were asked about their plans for keeping the story in line with the source material while keeping it a functioning, enjoyable television serial. The answer? That it may take a long time, and that the story may not necessarily be told in the original order.

“We're under no contractual restrictions with regards to the storytelling,” the two said, apparently in synchrony. “It's just that we pursued these books—and pushed for the show's green-light—for almost four years before we got to shoot the pilot. We gave up other opportunities because we love these books and want to do them justice. So for us, it's about adapting the books according to our notions of justice—which won't mesh with the fundamentalist book fans' notions. Which is fine with us because if the fundamentalists were running the show, there wouldn't be a show… David Ben-Gurion once said that where there are two Jews, there are three opinions—and that applies to a group that reads and rereads holy texts with the passion of Talmudic scholars. So we guess the simplest answer is, 'It varies.' But these two Martin fans love the show, and in our admittedly unscientific survey of the book fan base, it seems to have been met with more love than hate, which makes us happy.”

The pair also talked about their influences within the HBO line-up, explaining how they found appeal with such a broad audience. “The classic HBO shows (The SopranosDeadwood,The Wire) all took established, tired genres and found a way to reinvigorate them. There has never been a gangster as complex or fascinating as Tony Soprano, or a Western villain as compulsively watchable as Al Swearengen, or a television season as beautifully shaped as The Wire, season four. With GoT, we hoped we'd appeal to people who had never heard of wights and wargs, who didn't know a bastard sword from a halberd. At the end of the day it's all about the characters," they said. 

"Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark and the many other compelling characters in George's books and our show are not beloved because they live in a world where dragons are real. They're beloved because they experience the things we all experience: they feel like outsiders even when they're on the inside. They love people who don't love them back. They're afraid of power, they yearn for power, they end up with power in spite of themselves and find themselves liking it.”

They go on to mention that they feel like they are looking at about 80 total episodes to cover the planned 7 books in the Song of Ice and Fire saga. Not sure how that math works out, when they’re taking 20 episodes to do their adaptation of book 3 alone. Perhaps they don’t think the following books will take quite as much time to cover. You can check out the rest of the interview, which discusses other more personal points - like the creators’ favorite characters and which ones they are looking forward to seeing fan reactions from in the coming season - over on Mother Jones.

You’ll also want to check out this latest video out of HBO in the series of Game of Thrones making-of vlogs. This one covers some of the show’s great special effects:

The third season of Game of Thrones, which covers the events of the first half of book three of A Song of Ice and Fire, kicks off March 31, 2013 on HBO. If you need to catch up, you can grab the Blu-rays over on Amazon.