After the controversial end of HBO’s Game Of Thrones, series creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss made a very clear effort to completely disappear and work on other things while the internet and the Thrones fan community funneled their disappointment into trashing the writers’ reputation on Google. They skipped out on a Comic-Con panel over the summer, but this weekend Benioff and Weiss emerged from wherever they’ve been hiding to attend a panel at the Austin Film Festival and answer some questions about how they made one of the most successful and popular shows of all time. As it turns out, based on their responses, they did it with nothing but big dreams and an even bigger supply of pure, dumb luck. Twitter user @ForArya chronicled the panel in a Twitter thread, and let’s just say this isn’t going to win Benioff and Weiss any new fans.
If you just want the hits, the whole saga is pretty much summed up in this tweet, with Benioff explaining that their first meeting with A Song Of Ice And Fire series writer George R.R. Martin involved him asking about their credentials as writers and them having to explain that they didn’t have any.
“We don’t know why he trusted us with his life’s work,” he says, presumably in an attempt to show that the two of them were just a couple of scrappy newcomers when they took on this huge task.
Benioff and Weiss went on to talk about their bad first attempt at a pilot, saying it involved “basic writing mistakes” and everything—“script, casting, costume”—being wrong. Luckily, the actors they hired for the real pilot ended up developing good takes on their characters, so they essentially sat back and allowed professionals (like the actors and costume designers) to do what they do best.
Also, HBO asked for 100 extra minutes to fill the first episodes, prompting Benioff and Weiss to add a scene between Robert Baratheon and Cersei—who, up until that point, had somehow never shared a scene together.
The duo also brought up a point that’s almost certainly going to stick out to fans of the books, saying that they purposefully removed as much fantasy stuff as possible because they wanted the show to appeal to “mothers” and “NFL players” as much as “that type of fan.”
They also said that they didn’t really try to boil down the books into digestible chunks while also maintaining the core themes, because “the scope was too big.” Instead, they focused on the scenes they wanted to do and the general idea that the show was “about power.”
It’s basically a whole lot of stuff like that, along with a fun nod that Benioff and Weiss purposefully didn’t read anything that fans had to say about the show because Benioff Googled it once and it “upset him.”