Showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff discuss the pressures of going off-book for Game of Thrones season 6 and their desired timeline for ending the show.
Mere days away from the highly-anticipated season 6 premiere, Weiss and Benioff spoke to Variety about the rigors of making season 6 and their confidence that the long wait will be worth it for fans.
“I honestly believe this is the strongest season we’ve had,” Benioff said, though he also admitted that he and Weiss are facing unprecedented scrutiny as their show finally surpasses the progress of George R.R. Martin’s series.
“Now there’s a new kind of pressure of, ‘Can we keep it going even though we’ve gotten past the books?’” Benioff said. “Time will tell.” Weiss concurs: “[This season] is us carrying the story forward from the end point of the final book. That was both very exciting and a bit terrifying at times.”
As the narrative complexity and the scope of the world of the show grows, so does the scale of production. “I think back to season one, and the big vfx was the
baby dragons … but baby dragons grow up, and they get violent,” Benioff said.
Indeed, from a production standpoint, this upcoming season was the most “brutal” yet. “It became a real endurance test for everyone on the crew,” Benioff said. “We never quite knew where we were going every day.”
So, are Weiss and Benioff intimidated by their responsibility to continue creating quality episodes for a show of such magnitude and cultural significance? Yes. Yes, they are.
“I’ll start to be afraid when we stop being afraid,” said Weiss. “If it feels like there’s anxiety over what you’re doing, it means you’re constantly pushing yourself.”
However, Weiss and Benioff do have a sense of how they’d like to wrap up Game of Thrones. They reiterated their desire to shorten seasons 7 and 8 to only six episodes each.
HBO marketing president, Michael Lombardo said he approves of Weiss and Benioff’s goal. “As a television executive, as a fan, do I wish they said another six years? I do. But they respect the characters, they respect the writing, and they respect the truth of the storytelling. So whatever decisions they make come from a place of integrity — however disappointing it might be to me as a television executive.”
It’s over this concern for quality that Weiss and Benioff say they’re not interested in a Game of Thrones prequel or spinoff.
“At a certain point,” Weiss said, “especially if it’s a serialized story, it falls apart and loses its heat and its momentum because there’s a carrying capacity even a world the size of ours has … we want people to hate the fact that it’s over and wish that there was more of it coming.”