Hollywood Flashback: 'Game of Thrones' Author George R.R. Martin Wrote for 'Twilight Zone' in the '80s
Two decades before the HBO series premiered its pilot in 2008, the author made his TV writing debut with episodes of CBS' revival of the sci-fi series and the network’s 'Beauty and the Beast.'
When HBO announced in 2008 a pilot based on George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones — the first book in his still-to-be-finished, seven-part A Song of Ice and Fire series — THR said the show would "represent the rarest of TV genres: a full-fledged fantasy series. … The books have swords, dragons, magic, the works."
Former HBO executive and current Thrones executive producer Carolyn Strauss says creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss "lured me in with a dimensional world filled with layered characters and complex relationships. The fantasy elements were the cherry on the sundae." Though Martin's tale of feudal Westeros has been compared to The Lord of the Rings, Benioff has said the show, whose sixth season had 25.7 million viewers across all platforms, has more in common with The Sopranos or The Wire because "you never know who will get whacked."
A 68-year-old fantasy and sci-fi author from Bayonne, New Jersey, who now lives in New Mexico, Martin had his first brush with TV when he wrote five episodes in 1986 for CBS' The Twilight Zone revival and the next year worked on the network's Beauty and the Beast. But broadcast restrictions wore him down.
"CBS didn't want blood," he once said. "Or for the beast to kill people." By going with HBO for Thrones, whose seventh season premieres July 16, Martin has been able to kill (and in Jon Snow's case, resurrect) legions.
This story first appeared in the July 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.