“Game of Thrones,” HBO’s epic 10-episode adaptation of the first book in George R.R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, premieres this Sunday (9/8c). Co-created and executive produced by Martin, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the drama was filmed over several months in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Malta, and Morocco. Set in the fictional continent of Westeros, the show stars Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Mark Addy, and newcomer Emilia Clarke – among many, many others.
Preview The First Fifteen Minutes Of “Game of Thrones”:
To kick off this highly-anticipated premiere, Benioff and Weiss helped provide us with several reasons why you should tune in. Read on…
The Buzz Factor: The show hasn’t even premiered yet, and it’s already become HBO’s best-selling series abroad. According to the Wall Street Journal, the drama is fetching $2.5 million an episode overseas, besting “The Sopranos.” Now pair that with the built-in rabid fan base for Martin’s best-selling books, the numerous outstanding early reviews, the nearly 100,000 Facebook fans, the 50,000+ Twitter followers, and the 15-minute preview HBO ran last Sunday that attracted 720,000 viewers.
Not A Fan Of The Books? Not A Problem: Both Benioff and Weiss were conscious of the delicate balancing act required for adapting a beloved book to the small screen. The two have gone to great lengths not to piss off fans, and maybe even greater lengths not to alienate non-fans. Although there are numerous characters set across a vast, sweeping landscape, Weiss points out that “all the great HBO dramas have been set in very large worlds with very many characters that we’re supposed to invest in.” He reasons that “Game of Thrones” is not that dissimilar to “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” or “Rome.” “They all require effort on the part of the viewer, and they repay that effort a hundredfold for the people who were really willing to invest in them.” Benioff adds that HBO has done a fantastic job of making explanatory videos available to those unfamiliar with the source material. (Resources like the ones provided here, on our special “Game of Thrones” page.) “In case somebody wants to check out who’s related to whom or who lives where, and the map of the world — they’re putting out a tremendous amount of really excellent stuff online that will help people keep things straight,” he says.
The Sexy, Scandalous Adult Themes (i.e. No Hobbits Here): Remember, this is HBO, so “there’s a lot of sex,” Benioff admits. Although the series has often been compared to “Lord of The Rings,” Benioff says the show’s explicit sexual themes – including incest – distinguish it from mere Middle Earth-ly delights. “It’s quite adult. I don’t mean quite adult in a porn kind of way, but feeling like people who actually think about having sex,” he says, joking, “But I don’t know, maybe Frodo thinks about it and I was never aware of it.”
It’s Bloody Good: Make no mistake – there will be beheadings. Westeros is not known for its sympathies toward humanity. “George’s world is a violent world so there’s definitely a lot of killing and bloodshed and eviscerations and decapitations — stuff like that,” Benioff says. Weiss clarifies that although there is violence, the show doesn’t have a “gorefest sensibility,” because “we feel like there’s a certain line you could cross which would actually detract from the impact of the violence. We want the violence to feel like it did in a show like ‘Deadwood’ – where it was hard to watch, in the way violence in the real world is hard to watch. But not so much for the thrill aspect of it.”
The Magical Mysteries: For those who saw the 15-minute preview, you already know that creepy, bloodthirsty beings [aka The Others] are lurking in the woods beyond The Wall. But who they are and what they want aren’t the only question marks. Other supernatural mysteries (dragons!), and a touch of magic, will also feature prominently. “One of the things we like so much about the books is how he [Martin] doles out the magic, and yet magic doesn’t really have a huge presence for most of the people in the world,” Benioff says. “[They] have as much skepticism as people in our world might. At the same time, you know it’s out there. From the first scene you know there’s stuff out there that’s not from our world. There’s a princess carting around three dragon eggs, and that’s a part of the story. This is a fantasy series, and we never want to run away from that fact or try to hide that fact because we love that and we’re really proud of it.”