Game of Thrones showrunner wizards Dan Weiss and David Benioff talk to EW about this week’s rollicking sixth episode, how much backstory from the books is too much, and whether fans are right to hate on Catelyn.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Loved the Eyrie sequence. Can you talk about staging that?
DAVID BENIOFF: Gemma Jackson our production designer did a fantastic job with very little time and budget. The Eyrie is definitely one of our favorite sets. That Moon Door, the level of detail—you see a shot of these two guys turning a wheel, you see the door open, you assume it’s the magic of photography making that happen. But in fact she designed it so the wheel really does open the door. Just like it’s a real working elevator up at The Wall.
DAN WEISS: The Moon Door was real enough for Jerome Flynn playing Bronn to have fallen through it and nearly killed himself … thankfully, he emerged unscathed.
One character that’s been drawing some online hostility has been Catelyn, perhaps more so than when readers encountered her in the book.
DB: With Catelyn, people’s impressions might change in the second half of the season. You see someone being really nasty to this poor bastard boy; it’s understandable that people would think she’s rough and cruel. But the characters more fully reveals herself as the season goes on.
DW: For me, her rough edges are what attract me to his as a character makes her stand out. They keep her out of the mother stereotype for that character. She has flaws and she makes impulsive decisions and that’s one of the things that drew me to her.
Another highpoint has been the child actors, with Maisie Williams a particular reader favorite.
DB: All the kids, as good as they are in the first five episodes, they take it to a whole new level in the second half of the season.
There’s been some debate about the amount of backstory put in the show about the Mad King and other things from the books, whether it’s really necessary. How much is too much?
DB: It’s definitely tricky finding the right balance, and we’re probably doing a good job if half the people think there’s too much and the other half think there’s not enough.
DW: There is no version that’s going to please everyone. Some will want more, some will say, “Stop talking and get on with it already.” So it really is just about finding a good balance.
DB: One of the things that drew us to the books in the first place was just falling in love with the world. While a lot of that is the characters and the plot lines, it’s also beyond that. I’m not a huge gamer, but when I play those fantasy games, I get more excited by just wandering around the peripheries of the world looking at things and not just the straight-ahead plot lines.
And one of the things that’s fantastic about the world [author George R.R. Martin] has created is you feel you can wander any direction and there’s a backstory; even the minor characters had really interesting backstories. There’s so many elements and details, we probably err on the side of putting a little too much it. Some of it doesn’t take up much time, but readers of the book will recognize. For instance the book that Pycell gives to Ned. There’s page after page after page about the lineages of the Houses, it’s not “blah-blah-blah.” And 99.9 percent of people won’t notice, but there are fans who will freeze frame on the Blu Ray and be able to read about how the Umbers of three centuries ago died.
DW: It’s something you clock subliminally even if you don’t freeze frame. You see it for three seconds and you realize there’s words there instead of gibberish in Latin; something that makes you realize there’s a world behind the world of the story that’s propping up and supporting the story.