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Roundtable discussion with David & Dan

As much as I was looking forward to the discussion with George R. R. Martin, the chance to meet and hear from Game Of Thrones writers and producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss was what I was really excited about. We’ve heard GRRM talk extensively about the show, both on his blog and in interviews, but aside from a post on Making Game of Thrones and brief clips in the Making Of videos, this would be the first time we got David & Dan’s thoughts on the series.

Prior to GRRM’s roundtable discussion, I had already had a chance to meet George and even got to enjoy having breakfast with him. But this would be my first time meeting David & Dan, what would they be like? And what would they think of the site and the fans?

We walked into the room and were introduced. Both David & Dan seemed genuinely excited and happy to meet me and Fire and Blood. As the reporters settled in, FaB joked with David & Dan that they both looked much better rested than we last saw them, in the behind-the-scenes video. Both men laughed and Dan relayed a funny story about his mother’s reaction to watching that video.

“Yeah, my mother actually got mad at me. That was from almost a year ago, the very end of a long day, and she said, ‘David’s talking, your friend’s talking, and you’re drinking your coffee while he’s talking, it’s very rude.'”

“Better than falling asleep while he’s talking,” FaB said.

“Which is what he normally does,” David replied. Everyone laughed and then, with the ice successfully broken, the questions began.

And right out of the gate, the question of the fans came up. With the rabid fanbase these books have, what were the pressures on you to live up their expectations?

“Well they were great,” Benioff responded. “Not just with the fans, but with George who entrusted these books to us and for ourselves who had such a great time reading the books and not wanting to screw it up. It’s a huge thing.”

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America; Via Zimbio

“I think at the same time, you have to go into it and not be writing scripts or casting or any of the process, in fear. You can’t be living in fear that someone on Winter Is Coming is going to have a nasty post.”

“Not you guys, you guys are awesome,” Benioff added to me and FaB. Damn straight.

He continued, “But you are always going to have trolls out there who are going to be angry about something. You can’t try to please 100% of the people. But if we can make George happy and we can make ourselves happy, as incredible fans of the book, I think we feel confident that we’ll make the vast majority of the readers happy.”

“It’s easy to respect the fanbase, when you are the fanbase.” Weiss explained, “I feel like the fact that people occasionally get angry about something is great. You don’t get angry about something unless it matters to you, unless you care about it. By and large, 95% I would say, it’s a very respectful and intelligent fanbase.”

“And an educated one.” Benioff continued, “There’s some comedian who did a contrast between Jeopardy contestants and Wheel of Fortune contestants. The Wheel of Fortune people would be like, ‘I like bright shiny objects’ and the Jeopardy ones would be professors of particle physics. We’ve got the Jeopardy fanbase.”

“The way George will throw out a clue on the latest casting thing, and here’s some incredibly obscure clue and then the fans will somehow have figured it out in four and a half minutes. I have no idea, I’m looking at it like, ‘I know who we’ve cast and I can’t figure it out!'”

As a follow up question, David & Dan were asked, knowing that the fans are going to be obsessive on details that already exist, does that limit their ability to go off-book.

Benioff answered, “I think, if we didn’t have the stones to sometimes go against what some of the fans would like, we would be the wrong people for the job. Because you have to be able to do what you think is right for the show and, ultimately, it’s not a democracy. We have to make the decisions. We’re the ones writing most of the scripts, and making the final decisions on creative matters.”

“We can’t go out there and have a poll, we can’t do an Internet poll and say ‘So what do you want to have happen in this fight scene?’ You gotta make the decisions, and often you gotta make them very quickly and you gotta make hundreds of them every day. And you’re not gonna get every one right, but you hope if you’ve got the right basic philosophy for the story and how to tell the story, you will get the lion’s share right.”

Photo by Garrulus

Benioff and Weiss were then asked how they first discovered the books and what their initial reactions were upon reading them. Benioff answered that he had discovered them first, that he was sent a package with all four of the books.

“I remember walking into your house,” Weiss said, “and just seeing [the stack of books], it was by the door, so it literally looked like a doorstop. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, what the hell is that?'”

“I admit, I hadn’t heard of the books,” Benioff explained. “I had been a giant fantasy fan growing up but then moved away from it. And hadn’t read a fantasy book in probably 15 years when I got these books and hadn’t heard of them and saw this, what is it, 4400 pages or something, and at first I was thinking, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me.'”

“And I started reading the first one, and I remember, at the scene that ends the pilot, which I won’t spoil but you guys who’ve read it will know what I’m talking about, I emailed Dan, shortly after that, and said, ‘I don’t know if I’ve lost my mind but I think what I’m reading right now is more fun than anything I’ve read in a really long time. Tell me if I’m wrong.’ And so a couple days later, I’d already gotten 400 pages into it, and Dan went out and got the book and like a day later had finished it.”

“It was one of those experiences, it’s an 850 or 900 page book and I read it in, like, two days,” Weiss said. “Which is the kinda thing I did when I was 12 or 13 years old, I’d sit in a chair and read for 9 hours at a stretch.”

Benioff continued, “You get more and more cynical as a reader, the more you work in this business and the more you see how the sausage is made, because sometimes it’s not a pretty process. But also you just kinda get used to all the different narrative tricks that writers can do, so it gets harder and harder to be completely wrapped up and engrossed by something the way you were as a kid where you could just read for 8 hours at a stretch and not have any kind of skeptical thinking about it, just be lost in the story.”

“It had been years since I had that experience while reading a book and this one brought it all back for me and so, that’s again, pressure on us because we are hoping to try to replicate that process for viewers of the show, where it’s an escape every week, it’s every Sunday night, it’s an hour where they’re not in America anymore, they’re not in Germany, wherever they’re watching the show. They are in Westeros or Essos.”

David & Dan then were asked about their decision to bring on Tom McCarthy as director of the original pilot.

Benioff answered, “Tom’s really smart for one thing, so talking to him about the project got us excited about his vision for it. And then I loved his movies, and I think we both loved his movies, and the way he works with actors.”

“The other way to go was, potentially, to get someone who is known for the big effects things, the lavish spectacles,” Benioff continued. “We weren’t going to try to compete with Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings and there’s no way we could, what we could do with this story though is spend a lot of time with these characters and they’re wonderful characters and really get to know them, and get incredibly in-depth and incredibly intimate. And we both felt that Tom did that better than most directors we knew.”

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America; Via Zimbio

Benioff and Weiss also talked about the concern of having so many children actors, and not only that, but having to rely on them to tell large parts of the story.

“We were trying to think of shows or films, especially shows, where you’ve got children carrying so much dramatic weight in a show that is so adult and mature in its content. And yeah, that’s a scary proposition,” Weiss explained.

“We saw hundreds and hundreds [of kids]. Nina Gold, our fantastic casting director, David was saying she was looking under rocks and cornfields, she dug deep and she reached wide and she found a huge population of people. From people who had done this many, many times and been child actors since they were four to people who had never been on camera before. And she found us three amazing, amazing performers.”

Then we got into the flashbacks, as promised. I asked David & Dan how they planned to get across the extensive amount of backstory in the series. Did you do it through the use of flashbacks or other similar devices?

“That’s a really good question,” Dan said.

“Yeah, and it’s an important question,” Benioff added. “For instance, just looking at the pilot, Jon Arryn’s death is something that triggers so much of what happens through the rest of the story and he’s someone who is talked about a lot. And in the book George is able to have characters thinking about Jon Arryn and so what he meant to Ned, and Ned’s not the kind of guy who’s gonna have a long speech to Catelyn about what Jon Arryn meant to him, he’s going to think about it, but he’s a fairly taciturn man. And we didn’t want to violate that, we didn’t want to violate Ned’s basic character, at the same time it is very important that people at least see Jon Arryn or have some knowledge of who the guy is because his death and murder triggers so much of what’s to follow, so we have a scene where you actually see the funeral ceremony for Jon Arryn. So that’s one example. What are some of the other things that are sort of referenced in the book that we show?”

“Brandon Stark being strangled,” FaB offered.

“Yeah,” Benioff replied. “How did you know about that?”

We have our ways. Never underestimate the obsessiveness of the Thrones fanbase! Anyway, Benioff continued, “That’s one of the things that is so great about the books and I think one of the reasons why people become so immersed in George’s world, is because the world is so detailed that you believe, even if George isn’t going to focus on this particular family, that there is a family history going back.”

“When we’ve gone off-book and we’ve deviated from what’s represented in the book often it is in service of giving people what’s in the book and giving people a different way in to those backstory elements,” Weiss explained. “As David said, you have that leeway in the book of exposition, exposition in the book isn’t a bad thing, whereas in film and television, it’s usually a pretty bad thing.”

Benioff gave an example of how they managed to do this with a new scene that they have added between Barristan and King Robert. “There’s a scene with Ser Barristan and King Robert and we know from the books that Barristan’s been guarding Robert, as his bodyguard, for years and years and we know that Barristan is this legendary warrior, it hasn’t really come out in the series yet because it’s something that comes up, yet again, mostly through character’s minds.”

“So we have this scene with Robert and Barristan, where Robert’s been drinking all day and we were thinking ‘Well who would he be drinking with? It’s probably Barristan.’ Not actually drinking with him, because he’s on duty, but he’s there listening to Robert’s drunken stories and they’re talking as old soldiers often do about their early experiences in combat. It’s all stuff that comes from the books in one way or another, but it’s not a specific scene from the book.”

Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Weiss offers another example. “That’s the beautiful thing about when you create this fully realized world, as George has created, you find yourself thinking, ‘Do Robert and Cersei ever talk to each other when no one is around? They hate each other but people who hate each other and are married still have to talk to each other from time to time. It has to happen and what would that be like, what would make them break down the wall of silence and speak to each other and what would they say when they did?’ Scenes like that just emerge organically from the world, because the world is so detailed and richly realized.”

“Or Jon Snow ran into Jaime Lannister in the Winterfell courtyard,” Benioff adds. “We know the Lannisters have been up there for a month, so they probably would have encountered each other, what would that conversation be like? As characters that we love so much and knowing that they are going off on their separate ways I want to see the two of them have one meeting before it’s too late and they’re separated by three thousand leagues or whatever it is.”

Any time you are talking fantasy adaptation, you have to talk Lord of the Rings. Despite sharing they did not want to compete with Rings, Benioff and Weiss were asked about what sort of influences and templates they used when adapting the material.

“We always said it was more like The Lion in Winter than Lord of the Rings in a lot of ways,” Weiss replied. “And George is very steeped in history in general and European or Medieval history in particular. So there is that real politic aspect to it.”

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America; Via Zimbio

“Yeah, and in terms of the family dynamics, probably more influenced by some of the great HBO series than the movies,” Benioff adds and then lists shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire and Deadwood as examples.

“Just creating all these different characters and how they were able to take maybe seven different storylines in every episode and weave them together in an elegant way where you kinda always know where you are at the same time, you’re wanting to learn more about this character and you want to get back to the next character.”

Benioff adds, “Lord of the Rings sorta just makes me feel really jealous because I watch all the great helicopter shots, ‘Oh I wish we could have afforded some helicopters!'”

Next, Benioff and Weiss were asked about the issue of having to plot out a full series story arc when the full series isn’t yet complete. In terms of actually breaking down the season and breaking down the stories, how do you work around that?

“Well he’s still way ahead of us.” Weiss replied.

“We also know. We have some insider knowledge,” Benioff adds. “We sat George down with the spotlight on him and made him answer some questions. We do know some of the bigger picture things, where it’s going to end up, which makes our lives a lot easier.”

“Every once in a while, we will have to call George and be like, ‘So George, this guy, what happens there?’ And sometimes he’ll tell us and sometimes he won’t and sometimes he’ll give us a hint.” So George doesn’t just like to drop hints to the fans, he likes to play games with the show’s executive producers too!

Next, FaB asked David & Dan what, beside from the great buzz, has been their most pleasant surprise about the show.

“For me, probably the kids,” Benioff answers. “Because you go into shooting something like this and they might have great auditions but you never really know until you are out there doing it for real and they’re under the pressure of being in front of the entire crew and the cameras and having to learn their lines everyday, the fact that our three main kids, the Stark kids, have performed as well as they have.”

“You’re 12 years old, 13 years old, you’re being asked to shoulder a very adult-sized responsibility,” Weiss said. “On the other side of the camera, we feel like ‘Wow, this is a lot to carry, this is a lot for two adults to carry. And your 12?’ All this machinery is buzzing around you and it’s all literally aimed at you, it takes a special kind of strength to shoulder that and they’ve all just done such an amazing job.”

“Yeah,” Benioff added. “And they’re so frickin’ cute.”

Lastly, with the discussion of the past 30 minutes mostly revolving around fantasy fans and fans of the book, Benioff and Weiss were asked if there is stuff to offer for those not necessarily fantasy fans?

“We really hope we get a lot of fans who are not just fantasy fans,” Benioff answered. “People in my family who, by and large, could care less about fantasy everyone has started reading these books… they’ve become completely immersed in the series because even if you’re not typically a fantasy fan the books are so rich and detailed and the characters are so engrossing that I think there’s something in there.”

“And another thing that makes the series palatable for those who are not obsessive fantasy fans is that it’s not as if there are people throwing fireballs every other scene and there’s not a great deal of monsters, it’s not really an effects driven show, it’s really about the characters, it’s really about the intrigue and the relationships. It’s one of the things that George does so intelligently in the books is the way he doles out the magic and it’s really in doses, and there are many people in this world who are quite skeptical about, do the Others actually exist? Or the white walkers. And dragons, no one has seen a dragon in 300 years. So it’s not as if you’ve got these monsters flapping around with their bat wings every other frame, it’s actually, I don’t want to say minimized, but it tends to be on the fringes of the show as opposed to dead center.”

“On the flip side, we think that fantasy fans will respond to that,” Weiss added. “I mean fantasy fans also love Sopranos, fantasy fans also were really into The Wire. I don’t think the worlds are as separate, as it sometimes seems like when you find yourself talking about it.”

“I think ultimately if it’s good storytelling than people are gonna respond to that and get engrossed in the story,” says Benioff. “It might take an episode or two, but once they get into it, once they start to feel who these families are and what this world is, I don’t think it’s going to matter that much, because it’s just a great story that George has created here, a great world.”


  • How privileged we are to have such intelligent, passionate FANS creating the show!

    My favorite part of the interview was their explanations and reasoning behind adding scenes. To hear that we won’t be dealing with voiceovers or internal monologues from the book being lines spoken aloud, but instead they’re going to add scenes to flesh out the characters fully.

    I really appreciate that. These guys really get the difference between the mediums of film and television. Each day that passes brings new information to the fore and increasingly I worry less and less about minute details. D&D will do what has to be done to translate these stories, as fans, in the truest (and, yes, most practical) ways available to them.

    I probably don’t even really have a right to nitpick. I picked up AGoT for the first time just about 8 months ago and it wasn’t until I was a ways in that I really understood what a find I’d picked up, and started to read more closely. So my grasp on the details, from only a single reading, is undoubtedly sketchy enough, compared to probably most of you here who’ve been obsessing for well over a decade. I’d hate to be insistent on details that only ever existed in my head, lol.

  • Demand?

    Well – there might come a point in time where I think some “demand” is necessary. But right now? No.

    I’m happy as hell with the access and sneak peaks that HBO has been doing and I would much rather read about D&D’s thoughts on the series as a whole than see another 60 second trailer. And that’s what WiC is giving us too – so that’s a big plus.

    We’ve had 11 and a half minutes of the behind the scenes “Making of” promo feature. That’s a LOT. You need more? Go watch it again a dozen times or so :)

    So no – I’m not in the demanding mood whn it comes to HBO right now. These guys seem to have done everything right so far.

    Now – you want me to go post and demend George finish ADwD? If I thought it would do any good – I would. But seeing as that appears to be imminent as well – I don’t think it’s necessary. (And if demanding would do any good, we’d have had the book five years ago)

    It’s not as if I *can’t* be a demanding fan. But when people are clearly doing their best to satisfy the ongoing curiousity of an obsessed fan base — and yet they are managing to maintain that interest and have it grow and peak at the right time? That’s not easy to do. Nevertheless, so far, HBO has been doing this slow to medium burbn on the hype machine FAR better than I ever dared hope they would.

    So I’m good, thanks-very-much. No further demands here (yet).

  • Great stuff!
    I really enjoyed reading the interview.
    Game of Thrones is in good hands, I am more convinced of it now.

    FaB and WiC you are very, very lucky guys. :)

  • I love the constant praise “The Wire” gets from the shows creators and many others associated with the project. Very interesting interview and loved how big a fan of the books, the creators actually are, Voiceovers would’ve been tacky on television, and they made the right choice to add extra scenes to flesh out the characters further. I wish we got to see more scenes with the kids in, on the next trailer, some actual dialogues, rather than brief shots.

  • Fantastic stuff! Especially learning that D&D know at least part of the ending, that the flashback are in (inner Dayne fangirl: hopeful squee) and that there’s MORE BARRISTAN.

  • Hear Me Roar: Oh, so what they call the white walkers are not the Others?    

    Interesting catch, HMR. I wonder if he let something slip, or if they’ve decided to call them “white walkers” instead of “Others” to avoid Lost associations, or something like that, and he was correcting himself.

    It is never (that I recall) expressly stated that the Others and the “white walkers” are the same, but it seems pretty strongly implied. As far as I remember the white walkers are mostly mentioned in lists of “odd things that are going on right now” by the uneducated. While most mentions of the Others are limited to swearing and the knight’s watch.

  • Fantastic article. I’ve heard a lot of show-runners say they love/respect the source material but this is the first time I’ve actually believed it! I think we’re in good hands.

  • Great read! D&D has the perfect attitude towards this, just as GRRM has, so I feel that there’s no reason to worry, this will come out about as good as it realistically could.

    The flashbacks and extra scenes that are used to flesh out what was told through inner monologue in the books also sound great. Just like the Blackfish above I’m looking forward to hearing the drunken Robert talk about his memories of Ser Barristan’s prowess.

  • I have to agree with Steel_Wind.

    Myself? I’m actually at a point now where I almost don’t want to see much more so I still have some surprises when the show actually airs :P

  • Hear Me Roar: Oh, so what they call the white walkers are not the Others?    

    Does the term White Walkers ever appear in the books? When I hear it I instead think if wight walkers as in the people that have been killed by the others only to return as wights.

  • “It’s every Sunday night, it’s an hour where they’re not in America anymore, they’re not in Germany, wherever they’re watching the show. They are in Westeros or Essos.”
    Of cause it’s not Germany, because we aren’t getting Game of Thrones :( Or do you guys know something? Maybe WiC can find out.
    Besides that… really nice updates the last days… good job!

  • Hear Me Roar: Oh, so what they call the white walkers are not the Others?    

    I’m pretty sure they’re the same. I think it was more of a correction, or clarification, to him saying the Others.

    Never really thought about it before, but what ManBearSquid says makes sense, maybe for the show they are going to stick with calling them the White Walkers, to avoid any Lost connections. Certainly the phrase White Walkers has come up in the promo material via that Old Nan bit of dialogue, while the Others has not.

  • Winter Is Coming,

    I personally think it is to avoid the Lost connection. White Walkers i think would be a perfectly acceptable substitute, and the more i read about tv writer tricks the more i appreciate the things they do to avoid confusion. classic example is one GRRM mentions is that you try to start your characters names with different letters. Especially your main characters. Of course he quickly realized he would have way too many characters for this so he went with the real world naming convention of people being named for people but that is something you rarely see in tv.

  • This, at least to me, is the best and most informative of your write-ups to date, Winter – great work!
    Mr Benioff and Mr Weiss seem to be really immersed fans of the novels, who understand the finer points of the story’s twists and turns as well as their important historical background. As already mentioned by Zack above, the producers have a good grip on the medium’s constraints and strengths; what they told you about added scenes and flashbacks makes me confident that Game of Thrones will be an awesome experience. By now I’m looking forward especially to the new scenes. :)
    Thanks again for asking the “falshbacks-question”: To know how Mr Benioff Mr Weiss approach them is really important in order to get an idea of the shows’ general concept (after your confirmation I also started a discussion about the flashbacks on westeros.org as they are some of the most important scenes we will see).

  • Hear Me Roar,

    The story makes a distinction between the Others and the wights they seem to create, or the wights are able to create (whatever). This was confusing enough for the Brothers who face them – no doubt the stories such as old Nan tells have confused the facts due to time and distance further. Perhaps white walkers is a collective description.

  • Great stuff guys. This has only increased my confidence that this show is in the right hands. I also agree that it seems like they really get how to translate the book to a TV format.

  • GaR: Hear Me Roar,
    By “white walkers” they seem to mean wights.I always thought it referred to Others specifically or perhaps to Others and wights collectively.    

    I’d stick with WiC’s interpretation of the quote – “White Walkers” is a clarification on “Others,” not a reference to another group. The undead wights are never referred to as “white walkers,” IIRC. For one thing, they aren’t particularly white. Black hands and blue eyes, but nothing about them is mentioned as being particularly white (maybe corpse-pale, but not snow white). The Others, on the other hand, are white.

  • I think the success of LOST gave producers permission to do lots and lots of flashback, so I hope we get lots and lots!

  • More and more fantastic news. Thanks!

    Hear Me Roar,

    Though I obviously wasn’t there, what it looks like is that he was clarifying what the “Others” were.

  • Wic, How bizarre it was for you to be there?
    I mean, just think about it. Less than two years ago you started this blog and now you’ve had lunch with the show’s EP as the fan base’s connection!!

    It’s insane, I think.

    Well deserved, man, congrats.

  • Blackfish Blues,

    Yes! More Baristan!!

    This was a comforting update to read, as have been the past several. I don’t know if, when WiC and FaB met up recently, they made a plan of attack with regards to updates, but it feels like it! I must commend you both for the one two punch combo approach since the TCA panel, it’s been highly entertaining and very informative. The “straight man” side of WiC with the combination of the “wack job” side of FaB has been swell! It’s a winning formula, thank you both!

  • Hear Me Roar: Oh, so what they call the white walkers are not the Others?    

    wasn’t there 2 kinds. One type being more like zombies and the other more like demons

  • Great Interview.

    As with others I was wondering if they’ve given the name White Walkers to the Wights rather than The Others.

    If for some reason the look of The Others in the show isn’t the same as the book and they aren’t pale white then the term White Walkers may not be accurate and could be used for corpse white Wights (no blackened hands) instead.

    No Dragons for 300 years? A minor mistake or has Ageons Conquest been put further back in time in the Show?

  • FlayedandDisplayed: Hear Me Roar,
    The story makes a distinction between the Others and the wights they seem to create, or the wights are able to create (whatever).This was confusing enough for the Brothers who face them – no doubt the stories such as old Nan tells have confused the facts due to time and distance further. Perhaps white walkers is a collective description.    

    yes this is what i was thinking by 2 types. It seems the Black Brothers were thinking they were all the same but once they found out there were 2 types they started calling each type something different from the other type

  • Luke likely,

    Everyone: yes, I know the distinction between the two and I point it out to others happily :) it’s just that I thought white walkers were synonymous with Others, and the way D&D mentioned it, it seemed they might not be for the show. Apparently all is in good order ;)

  • David and Dan are amazing. We couldn’t have gotten a better pair of people to do this project. Just from reading this, I can see why GRRM was so happy with these guys. They get it. Unlike so many others in their line of work, they aren’t dismissive of the fans because they are fans. I am deeply impressed with these guys. Now, along with being a GRRM fan, I’ve become a David and Dan fan. I’ll watch anything they do, knowing that whatever it is has one of them at the foundation.

  • Great posts fellas.
    Two points, I’m pretty sure the Old Nan voice over in the trailer is almost word for word. She does call them “white walkers”. She also mentioned ice spiders that the Others ride on (could be white walkers? I don’t know). And the last Dragon did die 300 years before AGOT. (I just finished the audio book again)

  • dizzy_34,

    Actually, pretty sure the last dragon died roughly 150-175 years before AGoT. 300 years before was when the first dragons came to Westeros with Aegon the Conqueror (they were the last of their kind at the time, but the Targs bred more – getting weaker and weaker until eventually dying out).

  • Mormegil: No Dragons for 300 years?A minor mistake or has Ageons Conquest been put further back in time in the Show?    

    I would be fine with this… I was actually surprised to find out that the conquest was only 300 years before GoT. I just assumed it was like 1000 ago, based on how much had happened since then (magic turning to myth, the dying off of dragons, and the construction of King’s Landing). The timescales are so huge in Westerosi history, 300 years seems like an eyeblink, haha.

  • Hear Me Roar,

    White walkers or “whites” are not the same thing as “others”.

    The “Others” are some kind of ancient race that had a pact with the children of te forest. They also had the ability to make ” dead things” come alive.

    What the Nights Watch mostly encounters are the white walkers or “whites” the zombie like things that often are dead men of the night watch and wildlings.

    In a storm of swords, Sam kills an “Other” with his obsidan dagger and it melts. Later at crasters they wonder if the obsidian will even work on the whites as well. Later he an gilly are attacked by a large and somewhat retarded white formelry of the nightswatch (small paul?) he stabs him, but unfortunely he couldnt pierce his armor, the dagger shatters and we dont get to know if it would have had any effect.

  • Gmoney84,

    It did, but the last Targaryen dragon died after that, about 100-150 years after I think. Anyway, not really that important.

    Great stuff, this. D&D seems perfect for adapting the books. Love their thoughts on using new scenes to tell the story in a television way, obviously the internal monologe of the books would never work on screen.

  • Whites and wights is pronounced the same way, but I don’t think they refer to the same beings :)

  • I really like them for admitting that they may make mistakes from time to time.

    It’s easy for us to dicuss for hours about some details on a chair or a wig but, as they said, they don’t have time for things like that, because they are basically responsible for everything, and have to decide a lot of things all the time. So of course not every decision will be the “best possible” one.

    As long as the story and the characters stay intact I’m going to be happy :)

  • Nicole,

    Well we might simply get it next Sunday around the premier of Big Love (at least that’s what i’m hoping) especially with the Camelot trailer out.

  • Another possibility: This was transcribed. Maybe he actually said “wight walkers.” (Although that would be a term not used in the books.)

  • Strong_Belwas,

    I’m inclined to agree (that reply hadn’t appeared when I posted), but it’s a weird clarification.

    “Others? What is others?.. Oh! White walkers… Now I understand!”

    It might be that the Others are going to be referred to more as White walkers in the series (maybe due to this Lost thing people are talking about).

    Luke likely,

    Yes. Others and wights. Ice demon things and the risen dead, respectively. As mentioned above.

  • While I am not suggesting as to what the “white walkers” are or aren’t wasn’t there ALSO the giant “ice spiders” that the Others ride? I have some kind of recollection — very faint — of s ome suggestion these creatures could freeze the bay near Eastwatch by the Sea or somesuch.

    Anyways — there is a third supernatural bad guy, – the ice spiders – other than the wights and the Others.

  • The White Walkers are the Others. References in the spoiler text:

    “The fisherfolk near Eastwatch have glimpsed white walkers on the shore.” (Jeor Mormont)

    “Oh, my sweet summer child,” Old Nan said quietly, “what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods.”

    “You want to go back there, Osha? More fool you. Think the white walkers will care if you have a hostage?” (Stiv)

    “Mance thinks he’ll fight, the brave sweet stubborn man, like the white walkers were no more than rangers, but what does he know?” (Osha)

    “And there are still giants there, and… the rest… the Others, and the children of the forest too?”
    “The giants I’ve seen, the children I’ve heard tell of, and the white walkers… why do you want to know?” (Bran and Osha)

    The horn blew thrice long, three long blasts means Others. The white walkers of the wood, the cold shadows, the monsters of the tales that made him squeak and tremble as a boy, riding their giant ice-spiders, hungry for blood… (Sam’s POV)

    “Tell them, Sam… tell them how it is upon the Wall… the wights and the white walkers, the creeping cold…” (Maester Aemon)

  • Feeblegenius: .,
    The “straight man” side of WiC with the combination of the “wack job” side of FaB has been swell! It’s a winning formula, thank you both!    

    I like to think of it in Star Trek terms. You have the linguistic master Hear Me Roar, a font of international knowledge with a steel trap for a memory, who I think of as our Spock. You have the captain, Winter Is Coming, a quiet leader who knows how all the moving parts work and who steers the ship in the right direction… I’d call him our Kirk, except he’s a one-woman man. Hmmm. He’s maybe a younger, less-bald Picard.

    Me, I’m the Ferengi bartender who tells stories, steals from people, and needs to be rescued once every few episodes.

    If we were thinking in Buffy terms, I would be Xander.

    Or worse, Dawn.

  • Gmoney84: Mormegil, I thought Aegon’s conquest did occur 300 hundred years before in the books?  Quote  Reply

    In the book the conquest was 300 years ago (298 to be exact) but there were still Dragons around for another couple of centuries.

    So unless all the Dragons are wiped out in the conquest (which seems unlikely) or died very soon after then either D&D mispoke or the conquest has been put further back in time*

    I suppose things could have been simplified with Aegons three Dragons being the last ones though the hall of Dragon skulls (or the walls of the throne room in flashback) won’t look quite as epic with only three skulls in it.

    *something quite a few people thought anyway by the looks of it.

  • Very interesting. That Brandon-getting-strangled scene should shock and horrify many squeamish viewers, it truly was a dastardarly deed!

  • shadallion: Very interesting.That Brandon-getting-strangled scene should shock and horrify many squeamish viewers, it truly was a dastardarly deed!    

    The thing that’s been itching the back of my brain about that scene was that I didn’t recall hearing about it until Jaime confided to Brienne in one of the latter books. Was it really given that level of stark horror so early in the series? Don’t know how I missed it. And if I’m right, and they’re putting it in ahead of schedule, I think viewers are going to be empathizing with the “Kingslayer” a lot earlier than GRRM intended. Who’s going to blame him for offing that kind of sadist?

  • dizzy_34, OhDanyBoy,

    Per Tyrion’s description of the 19 Targaryen dragon skulls in the red keep, the oldest was over 3000 years old, the “youngest a mere century and a half”. He also reflects how a remote ancestor and a king from the Reach opposed the Targaryen conquest “close on 300 years ago”. This comes from right before Tyrion and Jon’s camp side “grumpkin” discussion before they reach the Wall.

    Gleen from that what you will

  • Zack,

    You’re right, the strangling story comes out in Book 3, but I guess they’re moving it up in the story to make Jaime less hated, earlier on.

    OR, it could be a story related by Robert to Ned, justify his assassination attempt on Dany later on.

  • I always thought the Others were the white walkers and the termsimply referred to the fact that when they appear heavy snow comes with them (or at least this was the case when the Black Brothers head past the Wall, the snow kind of announced their coming, didn’t it?)

  • I would refer everyone to Ser_G’s post above. The good quotes he took the time to gather clearly prove that the Others and the White Walkers are two names of the same creatures.

  • Ser_G: “Tell them, Sam… tell them how it is upon the Wall… the wights and the white walkers, the creeping cold…” (Maester Aemon)  Quote  Reply

    Ah, that’s the definitive one. Maester Aemon differentiates between the white walkers and the wights. I think that’s pretty conclusive.

  • Zack,

    I think seeing the scene with King Aerys, Brandon & Lord Stark this early will keep Jaime looking quite villianish. I imagine he’ll just be standing there, watching it, letting it happen. He’ll come off cold and uncaring at best.

    The way I’d play it is to have a slightly different version of the same scene much later when Jaime’s saying his piece to Brienne. Probably almost entirely the same footage, but with some additional closeups on the young Jaime and a little exposition from present day Jaime.

    After all, there’s no way for us to tell that Jaime disagrees with what happened unless they deliberately make it obvious.

  • GaR: After all, there’s no way for us to tell that Jaime disagrees with what happened unless they deliberately make it obvious.

    Other than the constant derision in people’s tone of voice as they refer to him as Kingslayer…

  • Because the nickname is such a big part of his character, and clearly that’s a scene that comes near the end of Aerys’ reign…I think people will put two and two together here.

  • Dragons have been extremely rare for at least three hundred years at the beginning of the series, but the extinction of the last line of dragons occurs only about 150 years prior to the series opening.
    Re: the others and the white walkers “white walker” seem to refer specifically to the things we see in the prologue while “the others” seems to include what we see at the Fist of the First Men. (sorry about the circumlocutions, I can’t figure out how to get the spoiler tags to work.)
    And, is it just me, or did that stack of ASoIaF books shown have five volumes?

  • Thanks Winter, I’ve been looking forward to this write up! Long and full of detail. It got me through an otherwise boring lunch hour at work!

    Good answers from D&D, I’m glad they’re focusing on the characters. That’s what has made other HBO shows so engrossing, IMO. I also liked when they talked about the new scenes growing organically, almost as if the characters (and world) are so detailed that they’ve taken on a life of their own. Hopefully the new scenes will fit in naturall.Let’s just hope the new dialogue is top notch!

    I’d still like to know more about how D&D plan on making such a complex story, with such a massive cast, accessible to new viewers. I read somewhere that one of GRRM’s biggest fears is that it will all just be incomprehensible to people who haven’t read the books.

  • This interview definitely speaks to some of my earlier concerns about not wanting them to spell everything out at length. The fact that D & D are adverse to heavy exposition (like any half-decent screenwriter) hopefully means that we’re not going to see every thought that passes through the characters’ head be overexplained. And yes, flashbacks will be cool to see, for sure.

  • Zack,

    I wouldn’t go betting on it. If they stay anywhere near true to the books, Jaime should come off looking like a right arsehole until he reveals his actual feelings and motivations a few seasons from now.

  • The Brandon flashback probably has got just as much to do with Ned and Robert’s motivations to go to war as it does Jaime’s inner turmoil. Just sayin.

  • GaR,

    Good points, both of you. Maybe Jaime will be offscreen here, especially if it’s a nightmare of Eddard’s, where of course he wouldn’t be able to place Jaime there anyway. If that’s how they approach it, Jaime’s pivotal scene with Brienne later can be retained, as we’d get a revised flashback to show Jaime’s position. And, a furrowed brow, disgusted face, or however they’ll want to visually depict his emotions, since he can’t obviously show Aerys his feelings.

  • great post lads, been reading the site for a while now but thought i should pipe up and say thanks at least for an awesome job!
    as an aside, i have been reading the books and last night i finished a certain chapter in which a certain wedding takes place in the aSoS. had trouble sleeping last night and its still playing over and over in my head like a broken record. full on! i really hope that GoT makes it to Season3. I really wanna see how they handle that scene.

  • Fire And Blood,

    These references are kinda lost on me. Perhaps a Magnum P.I. comparison might drive the point home with me if you had that in your wheel house? Mork and Mindy? ;)

  • Who’s gonna shake these guys down for the ending? Georgie boys gonna have to live to be in his 100’s at his going rate to complete this thing. These dudes and his assistants may be our only lifeline…….just saying

  • In addition: it is indeed plausible they could use “white walkers” more often in the show. Second, the ice spiders … well, I do hope these are a folk tale only :) and they could well be. I love all the layers of truth, legend, stories growing in the telling, unreliable narrators, and the like. It’s so real.

  • GaR: Zack,
    I wouldn’t go betting on it.If they stay anywhere near true to the books, Jaime should come off looking like a right arsehole until he reveals his actual feelings and motivations a few seasons from now.

    I agree about staying true to the books as much as possible, but we haven’t been assured yet that there will be even a season 2. I’m counting on it, but then the agonized wait will go on for S3 and so on, always with Damocles’ sword of cancellation on our hands. I’m considering a worst-case scenario, but in this case seeding doubts about Jaime’s wickedness early on might flesh out the series better when we buy the DVDs.

    Crackpot theory. Near the left border of the scene in question there is a tall whitish thing which I took as scenography at first. Then I had a closer look at it. Could it be a knight in white armour, standing in profile as though to turn his back on the scene? I seem to perceive his left shoulderguard, part of the arm, a white cape hanging down his back. Where the sword would be there is a grayish blur which looks photoshopped, not a natural blur like the other elements in the distance of the scene. Did they hide a golden sword? A silver sword? Am I hallucinating?

  • reedgirl,

    To explain what I mean about parallels will require spoilers:

    In A Storm of Swords, we learn the fully story of the kingslaying — the young 17-year-old Jaime, disgusted with the situation he was in, unable to navigate his vows (as he tells Catelyn in ACoK), chooses to abandon them entirely and carry out an act that will bring him infamy as an oathbreaker and a regicide.

    Jaime never had that lesson (indeed, Ser Gerold Hightower appears to have led Jaime to believe that he was expected to follow all of them in a cast iron way), but you’ll notice that now, 17 years on, he’s telling his fellow sworn brothers that their most important vow is protecting king — more important than obeying him, more important than keeping his secrets.

    That’s what I mean about a parallel: young men faced with difficult decisions in the face of stringent vows.

  • Zack,

    Um, I don’t know. I think in aGoT it was already pretty clear that Aerys was a bad guy and someone had to kill him. We knew that he’d killed Ned’s family. The reason people think Jaime has shit for honor is because YOU DON’T KILL YOUR KING if you are kingsguard. No matter what. That’s why Ned looks down on him and everyone speaks with derision.

    So I don’t think it does more to bring sympathy to Jaime than the first book already does. There are plenty of other reasons to hate Jaime in book 1 even though we know he killed Mad King Aerys.

  • Alwyn Joseph: I love the constant praise “The Wire” gets from the shows creators and many others associated with the project.    

    The Wire is my favourite show by a country mile. Soooo glad to see they’re very influenced by it.

  • Hear Me Roar,

    Second, the ice spiders … well, I do hope these are a folk tale only

    What kind of a fantasy geek are you? Giant spiders are second only to dragons in the fantasy critters hierarchy. If they are good enough for Tolkien and Howard, they are good enough for ASOIAF. We need white walkers AND white crawlers!

  • Wow man, D&D are so awesome! It’s really great how much they care about the fans, and are in fact, fans themselves. The energy surrounding this project is wonderful.

    Still keeping my fingers crossed that we will have Lianna-Rhaegar flashback <3

  • Pretty sure the white walkers refers to the Others as in the other race of beings beyond the wall. If white walkers were spotted on the coast off of a ship and they were just zombies or wights, it probaby wouldn’t be possible to differentiate them from regular humans. Even though the description of Others in the books are intentionally minima, its pretty obvious to tell that they aren’t human when you look at one.

  • Wonderful article with lots of interesting information about what has gone into bringing these books to the TV screen.

    I love the reaction to the stack of ASOIAF books: “Oh My God, what the hell is that?” lol

    Can someone give some background on David and Dan? Have they worked together before? They both seem really cool and like they know what they’re doing.

  • ManBearSquid,

    I was under the impression that a wight (white walker?) was a victim of an ‘other.’ A dead body that has risen after being killed. Bright blue eyes, incredible strength, and weak against fire. Others, on the other hand, are more supernatural creatures that are weak against obsidian (dragon glass).

  • bit of useless trivia.

    That photo of D&D on the article was taken on a ‘Your Highness’ set in the Paint Hall. The set is the dungeon of the Evil Wizard Lezaar that I worked on for a few days as his Minion. I sat right on those steps behind D&D drinking coffee (noticing a theme here!) while waiting for the next shot. The set is circular and the steps spiral upwards. It is basically a big tower and can be seen briefly from the outside in the ‘Your Highness’ trailer. A few floors above is where I was cut to pieces by Natalie Portman!

    It look like the set may have been adapted for GOT.