Westworld creator explains Benioff, Weiss and [redacted]’s cameo in episode 2

Jorah Drogon Ruins of Valyria

Those of us who are fans of both Game of Thrones and Westworld got an extra-meta treat in  Westworld’s latest episode last night. Though it was no secret that Game of Thrones‘ showrunners, David Benioff and D.B Weiss would appear briefly in season 3 of Westworld, their cameo turned out to have a lot more bite than fans were expecting *laughs punnily*

**Mild spoilers for episode 2 of season 3 of Westworld**

In episode 2, “The Winter Line”, Bernard and Stubb walk through a Delos facility for “park four,” which is an as of yet unnamed park that was apparently populated by hosts in medieval garb before it shut down. Fans have speculated that this might have been “Fantasy World,” but this remains unconfirmed.

Bernard and Stubbs then walk passed two Delos techs played by none other than David Benioff and D.B Weiss.

Benioff

weiss

Their dialogue goes thusly:

“Got a buyer,” Weiss’ character says.

“What?” Benioff

“Some start up in Costa Rica,” Weiss says.

“How the f*** are you gonna get that to Costa Rica?” Benioff asks.

“In pieces, man,” Weiss says.

We then cut to a wide shot and see that they’re talking about Daenerys’ last living baby, Drogon, whom Weiss approaches with a chainsaw.

drogon

Westworld co-creator, Jonathan Nolan explained the thought process behind the cameos to Insider.

“We are both fans of and friends with Dan and David,” he said. “We had this goofy idea that we would pay homage to their staggeringly beautiful and ambitious show — the show that paved the way for us to be making Westworld with the same kind of ambition and production value. They kind of invented this genre of TV. And they’re lovely guys.”

“So we pitched them this goofy idea, and they were kind enough to come and hang out on our set for one night and bring their oversized, fire-breathing friend with them.”

In addition to the obvious nod to Game of Thrones, the scene might have also been intended as a reference to Jurassic Park.

See, HBO’s Westworld is a loose remake of the 1973 film of the same name which was written and directed by Michael Crichton, who went to write the novel, Jurassic Park … another story about the attractions of a theme park gaining the upper hand.  Since the titular dinosaur park was located on a fictional island off the coast of Costa Rica, it’s pretty likely that’s that what the aforementioned “start up in Costa Rica is” (or, at least, is referencing).

“There were always two competing pitches, right? [First] George R.R. Martin — who we also know, and is a lovely person — frequently pitched the crossover of a ‘Westeros World’ episode,” Nolan said. “And then Athena Wickham, our partner and one of the executive producers on the show, insisted that we find a reference to Crichton’s other great ‘theme park run amok’ [story], ‘Jurassic Park.'”

Choosing to show us a dragon rather than a dinosaur was also a clever way to sidestep some tricky copyright laws.

“I was of the theory that the lovely people at NBC Universal probably had a lawyer sitting and watching every episode, waiting for the dinosaur, so they could make a friendly phone call to tell us to cease and desist,” Nolan said. “So we found a way to blend those two pitches into one ridiculous moment in our series.”

40 responses

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    1. They kind of invented this genre of TV.

      Success of The Sopranos demonstrated American television audiences were able to follow a very long and complicated story of a conventional type (mobster epic) which was set in contemporary times. Mad Men — the creator of which had worked on The Sopranos — then demonstrated American audiences had an appetite for a long and conventional story which was set in the past, albeit still within some viewers’ living memory. Both stories had a strong central character (Tony Soprano, Don Draper) who was also white, male, and American.

      Game of Thrones pushed this success forward, by demonstrating audiences worldwide could follow a very long and complex tale, set in an imaginary world, with a large and diverse cast. There were seven main characters (Jon, Dany, Arya, Tyrion, Bran, Cersei and Sansa) with interlocking stories.

      And now, Westworld increases the diversity and complexity yet again, delivering a true visionary work of SF to Americans. The producers are right, they owe a lot to Game of Thrones, which significantly “upped the game” from even previous successes. Thank you, GRRM, Benioff, and Weiss!

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    2. Tensor the Mage, Who Knows A Tavern-Told Tale or Two,

      I want to add to that jobs. They hired tons of locals wherever they filmed. I read many articles about how the economy in these places boosted big time. D&D and the show are responsible for giving thousand of people jobs and helping boost the economy of those places. I remember a great story about a pig farmer who was going to lose everything and credits GOT for saving his business.

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    3. Wait… I quit watching Westworld so much so that I don’t even read about it… All of this was actually in the episode, including Drogon? I guess I still have the same opinion about ‘crossover’ material as I did when GoT was still running – that it would be LAME. I suppose I should zip to the scene on HBO Go to actually see it first, but still…

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    4. “We are both fans of and friends with Dan and David, … We had this goofy idea that we would pay homage to their staggeringly beautiful and ambitious show — the show that paved the way for us to be making Westworld with the same kind of ambition and production value. They kind of invented this genre of TV. And they’re lovely guys.”

      Great to hear that sentiment from Jonathan Nolan. I enjoyed David and Dan’s cameo very much! It was exactly what I’d hoped it would be – funny, good-natured, and appropriately meta in a respectful way. And linking it with a homage to Michael Crichton and Jurassic Park was a nice touch as well.

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    5. I don’t know why some hated it but I personally loved it. It was insanely hilarious. Benioff and Weiss were most likely hosts though as workers at Delos’ Westworld were replaced with hosts replicating their original humans (See Maeve’s storyline with Felix, Sizemore etc).

      So basically nothing is real.

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    6. Clob:
      Wait…I quit watching Westworld so much so that I don’t even read about it…All of this was actually in the episode, including Drogon?I guess I still have the same opinion about ‘crossover’ material as I did when GoT was still running – that it would be LAME.I suppose I should zip to the scene on HBO Go to actually see it first, but still…

      At least Ed Sheeran didn’t make an appearance.

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    7. Mr Derp: At least Ed Sheeran didn’t make an appearance.

      Am I the only one who didn’t mind Ed Sheehan’s appearance? After all, it was the showrunners’ gift to Maisie Williams.

      🗡👸🏻

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    8. Ten Bears: Am I the only one who didn’t mind Ed Sheehan’s appearance? After all, it was the showrunners’ gift to Maisie Williams.

      Me!

      Largely out of stunning ignorance about Ed. When I saw it, I thought that the chap can sing. I thought he looked familiar but nothing more.

      I was surprised at the fuss made afterword. Poor chap did not foresee that this whole scene (and the series !) would be mocked and be a laughing stock for ages to come.

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    9. Mango,

      I too didn’t get all the fuss. Ed Sheeran had nine words of dialogue in that entire scene. His presence did not detract one bit from the substantive conversations between Arya and two of the Lannister soldiers.

      For that matter, why didn’t people whinge that it was unnecessary to cast Pete Postlethwaite’s son as one of the soldiers?

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    10. Interesting that D&D did a cameo in WW when the big cameo they used in GOT was negatively received. Ed Sheeran is talented and generally well-liked and even then despite his advantages with fans it did not go well.

      How did D&D expect it to go for them? Worse, theirs was dull and useless. The “in people” joke about Crichton and dragon etc was self-indulgent by Nolan and his team. Worse, it was lame.

      They could have given the jobs to two unknown union actors that could use the WW credits in their career. Anyway, D&D are rich and privileged and can do as they please. Is this not the point of their cameo…

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    11. The amount of nasty hate Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss getting on social media again makes me ashamed of this fandom.

        Quote  Reply

    12. Ten Bears: Am I the only one who didn’t mind Ed Sheehan’s appearance? After all, it was the showrunners’ gift to Maisie Williams.

      🗡👸🏻

      I was mainly joking. I didn’t really mind it, but to be honest, I thought it was a bit unnecessary. I’m sure a private meeting between Maisie and Ed could’ve been arranged without dragging the entire fandom into it.

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    13. The LightKing,

      We get it. You’ve made your point – ad nauseum. If you’re so “ashamed of this fandom”… why be part of it?

      …Which brings to mind a quote by an esteemed social scientist:

      “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”
      – Groucho Marx

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    14. Ten Bears:
      The LightKing,

      We get it. You’ve made your point – ad nauseum. If you’re so “ashamed of this fandom”… why be part of it?

      …Which brings to mind a quote by an esteemed social scientist:

      “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”– Groucho Marx

      Lol, thank you. The constant droning on and complaining about the “fandom” got old months ago. It’s ironic that he of all people is complaining about people being “nasty” yet all of his posts are equally nasty and hateful.

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    15. Mr Derp,

      We’re cool. I know you were mainly joking. Sure, Ed Sheeran’s appearance was “a bit unnecessary,” and the showrunners could have arranged a private meeting.

      I just thought it was really nice of the showrunners to cook up a surprise for Sheeran fangirl Maisie Williams: for her to show up on set, and see Sheeran as one of the Lannister soldiers.
      (Note: I heard that Sophie ruined the surprise, but still…)

      Anyway, no big deal. I didn’t understand the backlash then and don’t understand it now. It’s not as if they cast Ed Sheeran as Howland Reed. Or Kendall Jenner as Lyanna Stark. Or this ex-reality TV poseur as NK:

      https://faceswaponline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/WhiteWalkerTrump-af9d2f8bc836b001890f291bb7822d10.jpg

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    16. Mr Derp,

      Hey Mr. D!

      I didn’t know “you are one of the Benioff and Weiss Hater.” Geez, and all this time you’ve been an avid fan of GoT, and a dignified contributor to this site for as long as I can remember.

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    17. Mango,

      No that’s not the point. The Westworld showrunners said they did it as a thank you to them and it was originally George’s idea.

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    18. Fireandblood87:
      Mango,

      No that’s not the point. The Westworld showrunners said they did it as a thank you to them and it was originally George’s idea.

      As I said, all of them – rich and privileged.
      They may not have intended this to be the point, that would require self-awareness.

      This kind of self-indulgence is the exercise of privilege and access.

      Was this scene essential to the story – was it a good use of the viewers time? Viewers that pay. I do not think so….

      And anyway, the acting jobs to have gone to actors that need the work and the uplift to their career.

      That is why it was the point that we should see – intended or not. We could, we did.

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    19. Ten Bears:
      Mr Derp,

      Hey Mr. D!

      I didn’t know “you are one of the Benioff and Weiss Hater.” Geez, and all this time you’ve been an avid fan of GoT, and a dignified contributor to this site for as long as I can remember.

      Unfortunately, I’ve been called worse on this site many times. It tends to come from the “season 8 was perfect police” more than anyone else. Thanks for the kind words.

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    20. mau:
      Ten Bears,

      Out of all fake and forced controversies about Game of Thrones that was probably the most boring.

      I don’t know. When it comes to fake and forced controversies, Sheerangate might be neck and neck with “how did NK have a chain at the Frozen Lake?” (A legitimate but trivial question that erupted into a f*cking sh*tstorm.)

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    21. Ten Bears,

      The whole debate around GoT was too passionate and ultimately ridiculous. I can see that now more clearly. A year since the last season, when I watched a lot of other shows and movies, and especially in the last months since I was separated from this fandom.

      Currently I’m watching La Casa de Papel and they use so many cheep writing tools that my head hurts.

        Quote  Reply

    22. Mango,

      It’s not a big deal your trying to make it sound like how dare they have a cameo. Yes they’re both rich so what. As the Westworld showrunners said without D&D Westworld wouldn’t have been made so they showed their appreciation.

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    23. Mango,

      I don’t know about that. The specific scene In question with Drogon being chopped up and shipped somewhere would have been close to impossible to give to anyone else In my opinion.

      It was a meta scene, which by definition required someone from GoT creation side of the show to act those two cameos. It could of course go to some screenwriter or someone that worked in Dragon unit props or transportation but you’d not have recognized the faces easily or at all and the full effect of the scene would have been lost. Theirs are the most easily recognized faces from the GoT team so I think it was a pretty good choice.

      That being said, if you think of that scene in the context of the new Westworld season and follow Maeve‘s explanations of the quality of the new storylines, new parks and hosts, their cameo was hilarious. It basically implies that they are lower quality hosts of Benioff and Weiss, that these handled the ending of Drogon, and that the last storyline where Drogon appeared was probably not as good as the original…

      tL;dr, per Maeve: it lacked quality. I doubt that was what they wanted to transmit but that’s what comes out. Which is kinda funny.

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    24. Fireandblood87,

      I’m glad HBO has a sense of humor. They knew doing this would rustle the jimmies of certain people, and they did it just to stir them up.

      I also love how after all this time they’ve got those fans by the balls and can make them squeal on demand.

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    25. mau,

      I agree. I watched The Expanse now I am wachting Mr. Robot and my experience just proves again how ridiculous and hypocritical this fandom is. I never saw someone complaining about plot armour in The Expanse but people act like Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss offended their mother when a character survives a difficult situation in GoT. La Casa de Papel has some many errors but I didn’t saw a single Video about “every error in La Casa de Papel” on YouTube.

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    26. TormundsWoman,

      Interesting that it worked out in an inadvertent way. Lacks quality per Maeve! Very on point.

      As for saying “Thanks.” Such indulgence!. Who requires a speaking “cameo” as a thank you? Everyone? What became of the gracious……You are welcome! And perhaps a nice glass of wine over dinner. In your own show, I can see appearing as a personal treat – especially if you mix in into a crowd scene.

      Dunno, D&D may or may not have been their best option to acknowledge the link with the GOT creative team. I would guess that D&D are not recognizable to many viewers of WW, even to many viewers of GOT. I would bet that the majority saw the dragon/monster that brought the thought of GOT – not the two nondescript men. Maybe be that was the intention.

      Who knows? For some fans, maybe Isaac/Bran disposing of Drogon may have been more interesting/fun. Actually, any of the actors from GOT would be more interesting. Jon, Tormund, Cersei, Arya…..

      Anyway, a trifling matter all round. A lack of quality, indeed.

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    27. The LightKing,

      I’m sure popularity of GoT played a huge part, but also the fact that it belongs to nerd culture.

      I mean these people are still complaining about things Cauron did in third Harry Potter movie after 16 years lol

      They have this ability to be endlessly outraged and angry. I’m sure they will still hate Benioff and Weiss 10 years from now.

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    28. TormundsWoman,

      I read interviews with Westworld showrunners that’s not at all what they were implying. People are reading way to into this. It was just a fun cameo they asked of the showrunners to do.

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    29. Fireandblood87,

      No, I understand, of course that’s not what they meant. It’s just an interpretation of that scene in the context of the show based on the storylines they are developing. But it is a reasonable possibility to think Drogon’s ending was just as botched as any sim or storyline the new replicas created without Ford around, considering that’s been more than 3 months since all he’ll broke loose and all parks were affected. For example Stubbs himself explains to Bernard (before identifying park four where he and Bernard see Benioff and Weiss) that most of the human employees at the park were wiped out and they needed to create replicas for the work. And replicas tend to be plagiarize themselves (as Maeve puts it) so subpar work.

      You could always think if you don’t like that interpretation, that Benioff and Weiss were really just tech humans in that scene (some of the last let’s say) and Drogon’s storyline and GoT was written in its entirety by Ford the original head of narrative of Delos, basically they never wrote the show. It would fit with their complete matter of fact cut up and ship Drogon just like so much trash. Techs were known to not appreciate the hosts. That in Westworld context probably makes more sense. It was Martin’s storylines they adapted anyway.

      /sarcasm

        Quote  Reply

    30. TormundsWoman,

      There are many ways to interpret the scene, from the silly fun to the most serious. One of the “meta” interpretations I like is, “OK, sure; you guys once ruled our world, with the Greatest Show In The History Of Ever, but that was so last year. Now, you’re just two more nameless grunts at the bottom of the factory food chain.”

      An in-story interpretation I favor recalls how Season One of Westworld ended, and what Drogon did in “The Bells.” Maybe Drogon also took a big part in Ford’s Revolt of the Machines, and scorched a whole bunch of guests in Fantasy World? That would explain the “cut him up and ship him commercial” joke of this scene.

      However one chooses to view it, it was a lot of fun.

        Quote  Reply

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