The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Domain


Questions and Answers with David Benioff and Dan Weiss

This Q&A was released by HBO to help media provide coverage for the series. We’re providing here in full, so that fans can see it all. Some interesting bits in there. I do have to remark that for our part, as fans of the books first and foremost, “nice surprises” are the sort where you some grace note, some reference, some little scene or moment we love actually makes it onto the screen when all indications suggest otherwise. Possibly other book fans feel the same, and perhaps others genuinely want to be surprised by something new and different, but to each their own.


Q: GAME OF THRONES found an enthusiastic following in its first season. What would you say to would-be viewers who are curious about the series, but don’t consider themselves fantasy fans?

“D.B. WEISS: Give it a shot. GAME OF THRONES is not aimed at a niche audience. We’re proud of the fact that it’s a fantasy show – it’s set in a world that never existed and never will, there are fabulous buildings, sets, costumes and creatures you won’t see anywhere else – but our aim has always been for the show to speak to universal human themes of power, love, family, betrayal…all the things that have made so many kinds of storytelling so compelling for so many centuries.”

Q: Season one featured the surprising execution of principal character Ned Stark. How did that event upset Westeros?

“DBW: This season is largely about how Ned Stark’s death leads to a series of events that ultimately culminate in a war, pulling all the different factions in this world into open-armed conflict with each other. Almost every character is directly affected by the war in some way or another – even Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, who are on far different corners of the world, feel the effects of the events that spring from Ned’s death.

Ned Stark’s death had a profound effect – he was the moral center of the first season and he lingers on as that moral presence. For his son Robb, especially, Ned’s death is really a driving force. King Joffrey killed his father, and Robb isn’t going to stop until he has avenged his father’s death. This vengeance motive feeds into Robb’s larger desire to see the North rule itself, to see it freed and lifted out from the under the thumb of a person who’s sure to be one of the worst kings in recorded memory. As the second season will make abundantly clear, Joffrey is not the guy you want sitting in the big chair.

DAVID BENIOFF: Ned tried to instill in his son the same moral values he was brought up with, a strong Northern code: Always do the honorable thing, no matter how hard that might be. But being the most honorable man in the room means you’re the most vulnerable man in the room. An honorable man is a predictable man, and predictability is weakness in war and politics. Robb understands that and he’s trying to navigate a path somewhere between pure honor and pragmatism.”

Q: What are the major themes this season, other than the ongoing struggle for the Iron Throne?

“DBW: Fundamentally, it’s about the universal human themes of power and family. It’s about the ways the personal can influence the political, and how the motivations of people in power are driven by very human, understandable motives like revenge and love, which are things we all have experience with. Put in the right place, those motivations and feelings can change the face of countries and worlds.”

Q: Does season two follow book two, or have you taken greater creative liberties than you did in the first season?

“DBW: I think fans of the show can expect to be surprised by some of what happens. Fans of the books will obviously have more of a line into events, but we’re taking approaches that might surprise them as well. A lot of the characters that George created are so rich and so wonderful that you often find yourself wondering what would happen if this one met that one: When Robb finds himself alone with Jaime, for instance, what do they say? And we’ve been blessed with such fabulous, talented actors that you really find yourself just wanting to write more and more for them, to explore the characters that they’re making their own. So there will definitely be some nice surprises. I think there’ll be excitement for both longtime readers and newcomers to the material.”

Q: Did you have any specific concerns while filming the sophomore season?

“DB: I was concerned about falling into a crevasse in Iceland. One of the perils of shooting on a glacier.

DBW: I was concerned that four hours’ sleep a night might not be enough for a person in the long term.”

Q: If GAME OF THRONES continues with additional seasons, will you adapt one book per season, or try something different? Do you have an entire series arc in mind?

“DBW: Well… “A Storm of Swords” is too long to fit in a single season. And as readers know, “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance with Dragons” take place during roughly the same time frame, so we’ll have to fold those together. The plan, if we’re lucky enough to be given the opportunity to see it through, is to use as many seasons as we need to tell the story as a whole, to do justice to George’s entire opus.

DB: We’re not looking at our series as a book-by-book adaptation so much as an adaptation of George’s entire saga. In other words, in our minds season two is not “A Clash of Kings.” It is the second season of our adaptation of “A Song of Ice and Fire.”