Game of Thrones may be a monstrously successful show now, but a new book reveals that even its creator George R.R. Martin had doubts about whether it could be a TV series.
In the introduction for Inside HBO's Game of Thrones—a new book that offers behind-the-scenes look at the hit fantasy show—series creator George R.R. Martin says that Hollywood Boulevard is littered with the "skulls and bleached bones" of those who have tried and failed to adapt popular literature for Hollywood. It's an apt metaphor for the man behind the bold, bloody books that are the backbone of HBO's fantasy series, and a reminder that there were countless ways the series could have gone wrong. In the game of adapting Game of Thrones, you either win or you lose millions of dollars and the loyalty of a particularly devoted fan base. There is no middle ground.
But under the watchful eyes of executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, HBO's first two seasons have managed to beat the odds—even if the seams occasionally show. The accomplishment of the creative time behind Game of Thrones is all the more impressive when you learn that George R.R. Martin was actively trying to write a series that would be impossible to film. Martin spent the 1980s writing for CBS TV shows like The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast, watching studios take his sprawling, ambitious teleplays and morph them into versions that could be filmed at a fraction of the cost of the original. When he started writing A Game of Thrones, he decided that he'd make up for everything he'd had to compromise in his Hollywood career by indulging himself, which meant dozens of chapters, hundreds of characters, and thousands of pages.
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HBO's Game of Thrones probably owes its existence to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy—a series to which Game of Thrones, fairly or unfairly, will always be compared. In Inside HBO's Game of Thrones, Martin reveals that he was contacted by a few (apparently insane) producers seeking the next Lord of the Rings who proposed turning all seven of the series' novels—including the two Martin hasn't written yet—into a single feature-length film. There were so many ill-conceived attempts to adapt A Game of Thrones and its sequels that Martin even tried to dissuade Benioff and Weiss from attempting to make the HBO series: "It's too big. It's too complicated. It's too expensive," he said.