David Benioff and Dan Weiss talk Game of Thrones season 7 and 8

Entertainment Weekly has published a big honking interview with Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss ahead of the season 7 premiere on July 16. Do they say anything worth hearing? Let’s dig into it.

First up: what are we in for in season 7? According to Weiss, we can expect a lot of characters crossing paths for the first time, or the first time in a long while. “There’s a whole bunch of reunions and first time meetings that people have been waiting for for a long time and when you put it on paper you just want to do justice to the work that these guys have done building these characters over so many years,” he said. “You want to give them as much as you can.”

Ever since Tyrion crossed the Narrow Sea and met Dany it’s been the show’s general direction. And for us, it’s so much fun because these guys don’t get to spend too much time together except when they pass like ships in the night passing to and from storylines. So having them on set together is a real privilege for us because we get to spend more time with then.

Obviously, Daenerys and crew heading to Westeros presents plenty of opportunities for new interactions. And according to Weiss, that yoking together of storylines results in a quickened pace. “Things are moving faster because in the world of these characters the war that they’ve been waiting for is upon them, the conflicts that have bene building the past six years are upon them and those facts give them a sense of urgency that makes them move faster.” Sounds extremely promising.

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That wasn’t always their plan, mind you. Originally, the pair thought season 7 would be a “ramp into the final season with less action and more conversations.” But once they started planning the season out, it became clear there was more to it. Said Weiss:

We didn’t think it would be about the major events on a grand scale because there are so many major events that we had been planning on a human scale. The human collisions are every bit as powerful — in a different way — as horses running into each other. It’s characters running into each other that you’ve known for so long. I hope people are as excited for that as we are.

Benioff and Weiss also addressed the one topic everybody wants to know more about: the status of Brienne and Tormund’s relationship, such as it is. Benioff remembered how their first interaction in Castle Black played on the page:

It’s great because there was no dialogue written for that, or major stage direction, there was just a line like, “He stares at Brienne because he’s never seen a woman like that before.” And then we let the actors do what they do.

And if can believe it, the moment where Tormund stares at Brienne and she looks away in “The Door” wasn’t scripted at all — it was just the two actors riffing. It’s remarkable how many memorable moments are the result of something so insignificant.

And then, of course, Benioff had to ruin it by threatening death. “It inspires us because we need to kill one of them now because there can’t be a happy ending or any romantic connection on the show. But we’re not going to tell you which one.” YOU LEAVE THEM ALONE, DAVID BENIOFF! THEY ARE FOVEVER!

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Ahem. Lastly, the pair touched on Game of Thrones season 8, which Benioff said they’re “nearly” done with writing. “Well, I shouldn’t say ‘nearly,’” he amended. “I wouldn’t go that far,” Weiss added. So not done, then.

More potentially distressing news: the pair still isn’t sure whether the final season will air in 2018 or 2019. “We honestly don’t know yet,” said Benioff. “There’s been a lot of back and forth about air dates. That’s a long way off from being settled.”

Other notes:

  • Benioff and Weiss cannot tell you the end of the joke Tyrion is always trying to tell. “I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel…” That’s as far as we’re ever likely to get.
  • Benioff and Weiss wish they could have written a scene between Tyrion and Drogo. Benioff: “They’re from two different worlds but they would bond over their love of fermented yak milk or whatever and would eventually become good buddies.”
  • Benioff’s bright idea: “We could have a eunuch episode where we get Varys, Theon and Grey Worm together to fight crime.”
  • Benioff on the dragons: “Finally this year they’re no longer babies and it makes every scene with them more complicated to shoot. We’re seeing stuff from the visual effects team and every time they’re flying through the screen it’s impossible to take your eyes off them. I’m excited for people to watch it. It kills me that so many people watch the show on their phones because you don’t get the full glory of this on a six-inch screen.”
  • EW asked the pair if they would ever revolve an entire hour around one character, and both agreed that in wasn’t in the cards. Said Weiss: “In hindsight, it could be have been possible in some of the earlier seasons. But as this story’s momentum picks up its kind of impossible to tell this story the way it needs to be told except in a few examples like the battle at The Wall — that’s as close to a bottle episode as we’re able to come.”
  • Benioff is doubtful that the team will ever be able to plug spoilers completely. But there’s a silver lining: “Thankfully there are so many false rumors — which makes us happy, because it becomes harder for people to know what’s real and what’s not real. We will do everything we can to keep it from happening but some of this is on people who watch the show [to avoid posted spoilers].”
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