George R.R. Martin’s Dense Interview on the South Bank Show


Back in June, George R.R. Martin appeared on the recently revived arts program The South Bank Show. Sky Arts keeps the program behind a paywall, so it took a while before someone got it up on YouTube, which finally happened this week. At the time, we reported on his comments on how the movie industry wanted to simplify the books when they proposed making movie versions in the wake of Lord of the Rings. But there’s so much more to the interview than that.

Martin doesn’t discuss the making of the TV show until Part 4 (around the 32-minute mark.) The first three parts dive into his upbringing, his time in the television industry prior to writing the series, and a deep dive into the writing of the books long before they were ever considered for film.

Some of the best quotes include:

  • “I was a bloodthirsty little kid.”
  • “The heart of epic fantasy always seems to be some great war or another.”
  • “The Nazis were the closest thing that the human race has ever reached to Orcs.”
  • When writing an episode of The Twilight Zone, “George was told he could have Stonehenge or horses, but not both.”
  • On writing for the books: “My very first deadline for Game of Thrones I blew fairly spectacularly, and I’ve been blowing every deadline I’ve been given ever since.”

Also, we learn that Martin has been writing anti-war stories couched in science fiction throughout his life—he even submitted one with his application for conscientious objector status when he was called up to be drafted for the Vietnam War.

Along with Martin, both Benioff and Weiss appear, as does Neil Gaiman, who even discusses his famous “George R.R. Martin is not your b*tch” blog post.

Please note that host Melvyn Bragg says that Martin “is no where near finished with the sixth novel” (this was taped less than a year ago). Let’s hope in the months since he’s been working to resolve that. But as he says, deadlines are not a think he sticks to, but a thing he blows.

Next: King's Landing filming continues