Sunday 19 November 2017

'Game of Thrones' writers met as students in Trinity

Emilia Clarke in 'Game of Thrones'
Emilia Clarke in 'Game of Thrones'
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss met in Trinity College
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

THE two men behind the Emmy award-winning series Game of Thrones – which returns to our screens tonight – met while studying the works of Joyce and Beckett in Dublin.

Scriptwriters Dan Weiss and David Benioff became close friends while learning their craft in Trinity College Dublin in 1995, where they studied together as postgraduate Irish literature students.

The friends nurtured their love of writing while studying in Ireland in the Nineties. And it was an excruciating thesis on Beckett that led Benioff to believe he would be better off writing fantasy.

After a stint in Los Angeles, Weiss said: "I decided that school was a safer place to be, so I went to Trinity College in Dublin, to study Anglo-Irish literature, and that was where I met David."

The pair spent hours each night studying the Irish literary greats. Weiss favoured James Joyce, majoring his thesis on Finnegans Wake. Benioff focused on Beckett.

Describing how the pair crossed paths, Weiss explains: "We were two American Jews in Dublin, with no Irish roots of any kind, obsessed with Irish literature and trying to find a functional gym in Dublin in 1995, which is not something that most Irish people in 1995 were all that preoccupied with."

Benioff began his spell in Trinity with the dream of becoming a university teacher.

"I wanted to be a college professor. So I decided to get my masters in literature with the thought that I would then go on to get my PhD back in the States. It was a great year and I loved it, but after writing my thesis on Beckett, and kind of killing myself to write this paper, and then realising that three people on the planet would read it, maybe, I decided that academia wasn't going to work for me. I was going to get too frustrated. So I thought maybe writing about dragons would be better for me."

The pair kept their friendship ignited after returning to the US where they were given the job of bringing a series of books – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin – to life.

Weiss recalled: "After Trinity, I went back to school in Iowa to get an MFA ( Masters in Fine Arts) in creative writing, and David went to Irvine to do the same thing, and we stayed in touch and both ended up here."

Benioff then asked Weiss, who had earned a Master of Philosophy qualification in Irish Literature from Trinity College, to develop the Game of Thrones project with him for HBO. Speaking about being handed the reins of Game of Thrones, Weiss said: "Making movies is like running a marathon. Making TV is like running till you die."

The epic fantasy drama series is, to date, one of the most widely watched TV series of all time, with a recorded viewership of more than 20 million viewers. The series also stars 50-year-old Irish actor Liam Cunningham, who portrays former smuggler Ser Davos Seaworth.

Sunday Independent

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