Game of Thrones showrunners mostly unplugged from the hate for season 8

Game of Thrones star John Bradley hopes that the new show 3 Body Problem makes people "realize just how great [David Benioff and Dan Weiss] always were"

PEOPLE's Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Gala
PEOPLE's Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Gala / Kevin Mazur/GettyImages

For years, Game of Thrones was not only the biggest show on HBO, but was quite possibly the biggest show on Earth. The fantasy drama was talked about endlessly, as were its two showrunners: David Benioff and Dan Weiss.

Then came the eighth and final season of the show, which many think ended the series on the sourest of notes. People didn't like what became of beloved characters like Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Bran Stark, and Benioff and Weiss were subjected to a torrent of angry rhetoric online. Literally yesterday, a tweet calling the two of them "dumb f**ks" came across my feed without me having to look for it. It's still happening, four years after the end of the show!

Throughout that period, Benioff and Weiss remained silent. The two had always been fairly quiet, declining most interview requests even at the height of the popularity of Game of Thrones. As the hate for season 8 flooded in, were they googling themselves and seething? Or were they unplugged?

Benioff and Weiss addressed this while speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about their new Netflix show 3 Body Problem. Although of course they're aware of the backlash to Game of Thrones season 8, their strategy for dealing with the hate was mostly to ignore it. “You always hope everyone’s going to love anything you do and it would’ve been great if 100  percent of people loved it, but they didn’t,” Benioff said. “You can get so bogged down in public opinion that you spend your whole life googling things and trying to find people who felt one way or the other way.” 

Weiss weighed in as well: “Even super positive feedback makes you feel weird and teeth-grindy and on edge. There’s a drug quality to the feedback, and as soon as we went cold turkey — the last time I googled myself was in 2013 — the ambient stress level in our lives dropped by about 50 percent overnight.”

Although some of their most voracious haters may not like to hear it, this is obviously the most healthy strategy to deal with online hate. More productive have been encounters with Game of Thrones fans in the real world, where people are less likely to engage in the kind of over-the-top vitriol that comes easier when you have online anonymity to fall back on. "There’s an underlying decency when people acknowledge you as a person and vice versa,” Weiss said. “There’s something that happens in the transition from human interaction to online that pushes things in a specifically aggro direction.” 

John Bradley-West
"The Railway Children Return" World Premiere - Arrivals / Anthony Devlin/GettyImages

3 Body Problem may make people "realize just how great [Benioff and Weiss] always were"

Rather than nurse grudges, Benioff and Weiss moved on to their next big project: 3 Body Problem, an ambitious adaptation of Liu Cixin's science fiction novel trilogy. They've drafted a few Game of Thrones alumni to join them, including John Bradley, who played Samwell Tarly on the HBO series. In 3 Body Problem he plays a food scientist named Jack Rooney.

Like everyone else who worked on Game of Thrones, Bradley is aware of the backlash to the final season. He's hoping that 3 Body Problem will serve as a redemption of sorts for Benioff and Weiss. “They’re quite aware lightning striking once is rare enough,” Bradley says. “They know there’s such a greater degree of expectation on them than on Thrones because they have a reputation to uphold. Certain people who still have an attitude toward Thrones are maybe looking to see them not hit the mark this time. That’s in the back of David and Dan’s mind — because how could it not be?"

"I think people are going to see this and re-reevaluate them and realize just how great they always were. It’s going to prove a lot of people right, and, maybe, a few people wrong. They’re still trying to break the boundaries of what television can be."

We'll see if lightning strikes twice when the first season of 3 Body Problem drops on Netflix on March 21.

Next. 3 Body Problem. Watch the trailer for 3 Body Problem, from the showrunners of Game of Thrones and Alexander Woo. dark

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