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Benioff and Weiss in Vanity Fair

A lengthy interview with executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss—the longest I think I’ve ever seen—covers a huge range of topics, from the origins of their acquaintance to their current work on the unannounced season 5 (it’s happening, no need to wait for HBO to make it official). It’s insightful. Here’s an excerpt related to working from the template of a published series, and having the author on hand:

I read an interview with John Irving where he said he always knows the ending when he starts a book and he makes a beeline for it. I guess it helps center your brain.

Dan Weiss: It helps lend a sense of constructedness. Martin Amis always talked about the control tower. He talked about the reason he didn’t like William S. Burroughs—who I actually liked a fair bit once upon a time—but Amis didn’t like William S. Burroughs because he would read his books and feel like there was no one in the control tower. One of the things that made Breaking Bad so powerful, for me, was I’d never felt that somebody was more on the job, in the control tower, than on that show. Everything little thing I was seeing was there for a reason and would come back into play in some surprising but retroactively inevitable way, shape, or form.
It’s an advantage to have the books. Even if you stray from them, you have a blueprint. You don’t have to bend to the will of the fans, if they are screaming for something to happen. You’ve got George R. R. Martin.
David Benioff: Well, it’s a little complicated, because we have the five books, but then we don’t have anything beyond that, because he’s still working. It’s sort of an unusual position in terms of adaptation because, you know, we’re catching up. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. And we’ve talked to George. The lucky part is that George works with us and he’s a producer on the show. Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with him and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up, and where exactly that would be. As you were saying before, if you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we sat just down with him and literally went through every character and said, “So what’s the destination for Daenerys? And Arya?”
Did you feel like he knew? Or was he figuring it out?
Dan Weiss: In some case he had very definite ideas, and in other cases he had left those story lines more open, for the time being.

There’s more to be found over at Vanity Fair, including a fascinating bit discussing the influence of Anthony Mann, Roman Polanski, Akira Kurosawa, and Andrei Tarkovsky on the visual style of Game of Thrones; getting to watch an original, well-preserved 35mm print of Ran would indeed be something special.

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