George R.R. Martin didn’t set out to make a fantasy epic for the small screen when writing Game Of Thrones, despite many years of screenwriting experience.
Image: Adrian Long
Last night at the Sydney Opera House, Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin appeared “in conversation” with actresses Lena Headey and Michelle Fairley, moderated by Dominic Knight. Knight joked at the start that given the rate of Game Of Thrones piracy, it was pleasing that the assembled crowd had, for the first time ever, actually paid for Game Of Thrones for once. Although, strictly speaking, I didn’t; with my editorial-disclaimer hat on, I attended the evening as the guest of Samsung. Once again, make of that what you will.
Martin didn’t actually appear first, despite clearly being the focus of attention for the event; instead Knight interviewed Lena Headey and Michelle Fairley (Peter Dinklage having had to drop out) regarding their experiences filming the HBO series. One thing that particularly stood out was something I’ve written on before, and that’s the attention to minimising spoilers that was (more or less) kept throughout the evening.
Game Of Thrones has a particular spoiler problem, both because it’s very popular, but also because it has a notably split fanbase. There are book fans — by an audience clap-off this seemed to be a majority of the audience — and then there are TV show fans, and of course those who like both. For what it’s worth, I put myself in the TV show side of that equation; I’ve tried many times to dive into the books but I honestly don’t find Martin’s prose all that enjoyable to read. Your experience may, of course, differ.
In any case, aside from an event near the end of season 3 (you which one I’m talking about, and if you don’t I won’t say any more), spoilers were kept to a minimum, which meant that Headey and Fairley instead discussed acting, cracked jokes and played to the audience for the most part. Lena Headey has a particularly quick wit, deciding on the spot that she’d like to smuggle a Koala out of the country, but that she may have to disguise it as a merkin.
Kids, don’t ask your parents what a merkin is.
George R.R Martin was still the star of the show, proclaiming in his thick Brooklyn accent that “I should point out that I don’t sing Opera”, and remaining notably coy about what’s coming up in the book series, beyond stating that with two books to finish, “we’ll see in another decade or so”.
He did note the pressure to write from fans, as well as from the success of the HBO series, stating that “it’s hard to stay ahead of the show.”
Not that the show was the point of his writing in any case; he positively revels in detail and noted that when he was researching and first putting together the series, he figured that he was no longer constrained by the budgetary concerns that had plagued many of the scripts he’d written for a variety of TV shows, so what he was writing could be “absolutely unfilmable”.
Those problems, according to Martin, aren’t his, but instead “belong to Dan (Weiss) and David (Benioff)”.