"Game of Thrones" executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss say their upcoming HBO fantasy series is more reminiscent of James Goldman's Broadway play "The Lion in Winter" than "The Lord of the Rings."
Benioff ("Troy," "The Kite Runner") and Weiss were recently promoting HBO's ambitious venture into fantasy during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. The series, based on author George R.R. Martin's acclaimed novels, debuts April 17.
Audiences can expect a unique interpretation of an epic fantasy setting with "Game of Thrones," which chronicles a treacherous clash among royal families to secure ultimate power of the vast lands of Westeros. Magic takes a backseat in the series; tragedy, deadly political intrigues and engaging character studies are Martin's palate of choice. His characters endure hard lives that are often violent and shockingly short.
“We really hope we get a lot of fans who are not just fantasy fans,” Benioff said in an interview with Winter Is Coming. “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."
Benioff see such shows as HBO's "Deadwood" and "The Sopranos" as mirrors for some of the complicated family dynamics of "Game of Throne."
Another role model for the series is "The Lion in Winter."
"George is very steeped in history in general and European or Medieval history in particular," Weiss explained. "So there is that real politic aspect to it."
It's all part of a formula that Weiss and Benioff feel audiences will embrace.
“I think ultimately if it’s good storytelling than people are gonna respond to that and get engrossed in the story,” Benioff said. “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.”
Season 1 of "Game of Thrones" will feature 10 episodes. If the series is renewed, Season 2 would cover the events of Martin's second novel "A Clash of Kings."
Some of the key members of the show's large ensemble cast include Sean Bean ("The Lord of the Rings") as Eddard "Ned" Stark; Lena Headey ("Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," "300"), as queen Cersei Lannister; Peter Dinklage ("Threshold") as her cunning dwarf brother Tyrion; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("New Amsterdam") as Cersei's twin, Jaime; Emilia Clarke as the exiled queen Daenerys Targaryen; Jennifer Ehle as Catelyn Stark; Jason Momoa ("Stargate: Atlantis") as Khal Drogo.
The novel "A Game of Thrones" quickly won readers over when it hit the shelves in 1996. It captured the 1997 Locus Award and received nominations for both the 1997 World Fantasy Award and the 1998 Nebula Award. More awards followed for subsequent books in the series. Seven novels are planned, with the fourth volume, "A Feast For Crows," being the latest.
See more of Benioff and Weiss' interview at Winter Is Coming.
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