Ahead of tomorrow’s 60 Minutes Game of Thrones special, CBS has released a part of the program in which Anderson Cooper interviews George R.R. Martin, and the A Song of Ice and Fire author is more open than ever about his feelings on the show coming to an end, especially before his books do, and just how close their two endings will be.
“I published a fifth book in 2011, when the series was just going on the air, so I was like five books ahead,” he says. “I was completely confident that I would have the entire series finished, and ‘Winds of Winter’ and ‘A Dream of Spring’ would be out before they got to them. [So] it was a blow when the series caught up. I didn’t think it would happen.”
As it’s been famously recounted many times, Martin had to tell showrunners Benioff & Weiss about “the major beats” so they could continue the story with an ending on sight. Just how detailed these “beats” were has been a topic of much discussion, yet here the author puts the rumors to rest. If there was ever a possibility he merely offered a few key moments and a vague outline for the rest, it’s now clear that wasn’t the case:
“We’re talking here about several days of story conferences taking place in my home,” Martin clarifies. “But there’s no way to get in all the detail, all the minor characters, all the secondary characters. The series has been extremely faithful, compared to 97% of all television and movie adaptations of literary properties. But it’s not completely faithful. And it can’t be. Otherwise, it would have to run another five seasons.”
Martin adds that the show being “a different version” of the books is “true of every adaptation.” In fact, when asked about whether he worries people will have the show’s ending in mind before the books, he makes it clear there’s not that much of a difference after all: “I don’t think Dan and Dave’s ending is gonna be that different from my ending, because of the conversations we did have,” he says, decisively putting many rumors to rest. “But on certain secondary characters there may be big differences.”
Unless for you discussion of “the ending” heavily involves the resolution of secondary characters whose path has diverged significantly (say, Bronn) or who don’t even feature in the show (say, Arianne), Martin has now confirmed the show’s “ending” will be essentially his own, at least as it relates to the main characters and the world.
Martin finishes with a calm, brutal honesty about the whole affair that I honestly find incredibly satisfying. Just listen to the man predict what’s gonna happen so perfectly:
“There will be a debate, I’m sure. I think a lot of people [will] say ‘Oh, Dan and Dave’s ending is better than the one George gave us. It’s a good thing they changed it.’ And there will be a lot of people who say, ‘No. Dan and Dave got it wrong. George’s ending is better.’ And they will all fight on the internet. And there will be debate. And that’s fine. You know, the worst thing for any work of art, be it a movie or a book, is to be ignored.”
Truer words have never been spoken!
In a more tongue-in-cheek clip, Cooper asks the cast and crew to just spill out the ending. Featuring showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as well as cast members Kit Harington, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Liam Cunningham, John Bradley, and Gwendoline Christie, the interview doesn’t just give us jokes but also a few serious answers too:
“It ends brilliantly,” says Peter Dinklage. “It brings everybody into it. And it questions everything [about what we thought,] which I love. It really makes you question yourself, I think. I did when I was reading it. Not in any sort of snarky way; in a beautiful way… I would love to talk to you more about it, but I can’t. It’s really good!”
“We’ve challenged people all along,” John Bradley contends. “If you would’ve asked people halfway through season one, ‘Do you want Ned Stark to die in episode nine?’, they’d have gone ‘Absolutely not, no way’… We’ve never given people what they think they want, because we know that [what] people really want [is] to be challenged, and they don’t like to be spoon-fed. All those great, visceral moments of people’s reactions to this show have come from things happening that they didn’t want to happen.”
“When we read the final six scripts, I just thought ‘Wow, they’ve done an amazing job, they actually wrapped it up. They ended this show,’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau recalls. “And it’s an ending. We’re not gonna come back. And you do feel proud that you’re part of something like that.” And you should feel proud, Nikolaj! You all should!