George RR Martin: ‘Game of Thrones was pitched as The Sopranos in Middle Earth’

The ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ author was speaking during the second full day of the Santa Fe Literary Festival

Kevin E G Perry
Tuesday 24 May 2022 09:22
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George RR Martin: 'Game of Thrones was pitched as The Sopranos in Middle Earth'

George RR Martin has spoken about how the hit HBO series Game of Thrones was initially sold as“The Sopranos in Middle Earth”.

Appearing at the Santa Fe Literary Festival in conversation with friend and fellow author Douglas Preston, Martin discussed his history in Hollywood and noted that networks are often looking for pitches which “compare things to previous things that have been successful”.

Game of Thrones was first sold by David Benioff and Dan Weiss, while I was still writing books, as I seem to be doing for the rest of my life,” he said.

“I was out of television for a couple of years. David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the showrunners, were the guys who took it to HBO to see if they’d buy or option them. Their pitch was: ‘The Sopranos in Middle Earth’. You have to be able to say it in a sentence.”

Later in his talk, Martin took time to promote House of the Dragon, the new HBO series based on his 2018 novel, Fire & Blood. It will tell the story of the Targaryen civil war, which takes place around 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones

He also offered a brief update on forthcoming novel The Winds of Winter.

“On August 21, House of the Dragon, the sequel to Game of Thrones, will hit the airwaves on HBO,” said Martin. “Meanwhile, I’m still working on the bloody novels!”

Speaking to The Independent ahead of his talk, Martin commented on the supposed rivalry between House of the Dragon and forthcoming JRR Tolkien-inspired show The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

“I know a lot of articles, the minute the dates were announced, it’s: ‘Oh, the battle for fantasy supremacy. It’s Rings of Power versus House of Dragon, who will win?’ I don’t know why they always have to do that,” he said.

A still from forthcoming series ‘House of the Dragon’ (Ollie Upton/HBO/PA)

He added: “I hope both shows succeed. I’m competitive enough. I hope we succeed more. If they win six Emmys, and I hope they do, I hope we win seven. But nonetheless, it’s good for fantasy. I love fantasy. I love science fiction. I want more shows on television.”

The Independent, as the event’s international media partner, is providing coverage across each day of the festival with exclusive interviews with some of the headline authors. For more on the festival visit our Santa Fe Literary Festival section or visit the festival’s website.

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