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Game of Thrones producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss took a break from writing scripts for season two to talk to EW about Sunday’s fifth episode and some of the changes made from the popular book by George R. R Martin.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What about the reaction of viewers to the show so far has surprised you?
DAVID BENIOFF: I don’t go onto the message boards to see what people like or don’t like, that wouldn’t be helpful for me personally. We’re writing scripts and we have to do that based on what we think is best for the show, and if you start having too many voices screaming at you inside your skull it gets a little schizophrenic. So ultimately you have to rely on your own judgement about what’s going to work or what’s not going to work.
DAN WEISS: Also, if you read 50 comments and it’s 49 positive comments and one troll, the guy who bounces around your head like a ping pong ball for the next day is the troll. I already got my own trolls inside my head, I don’t need any others.
There seemed to be more outrage early in the season for killing Sansa’s direwolf than pushing Bran out the window.
DB: Some people have questionable priorities. I love dogs. But I love my kids more than I love my dogs.
Another strong response was over changing the physical relationship between Dany and Drogo, making it less consensual in the first two episodes.
DB: That first encounter between Daenerys and Drogo, originally we scripted it pretty much exactly as the book and we shot it that way for the pilot. But there was something to us, that while it worked in the book, seeing it on screen, here’s a girl who is absolutely terrified of this barbarian warlord she’s being married off to, it’s the last thing in the world she wants, yet somehow by the end of this wedding night she seems to be in a complete joyful sexual relationship with him. It didn’t entirely work for us.
DW: Also in the second episode she has to go back to the less consensual rougher relationship, which in the book works, but we just don’t have that amount of time and access to the character’s mind, it turns too quickly. It was something the actors themselves felt wasn’t gelling, they weren’t able to find an emotional hand-hold.
DB: We listen to our actors. When Emilia Clarke or Jason Momoa comes to us with something like this, we give it a lot of thought. It doesn’t always mean we change it, but Emilia mentioned the wedding night and the issues she was having it meshed with issues we were having ourselves.
The scene from Episode 5 between King Robert and Cersei was one of the best so far. Was that added from the book?
DW: One of the great things about the show is George has created this world that’s so fully fleshed out and dimensional that you think about what the people in this story are doing when they’re not in the main line of the plot. There’s lots of scenes over the season that came from that ‘what if’ process. Robert and Cersei may hate each other, but they can’t avoid each other 100 percent of the time, every once in a while they will find themselves alone together, and what will they say?
DB: You also got these fantastic actors and you want to play them off each other. For instance, the scene with Varys and Littlefinger. We so fell in love with Aiden Gillen’s performance as Littlefinger and Conleith Hill playing Varys we wanted to give them some time together. You have these two master connivers, and perhaps with the exception of Tyrion, the two smartest guys in the story, you know they talk from time to time, so what do they talk about? It’s like the head of the KGB and the head of CIA getting together for a coffee break.