David Benioff

David Benioff (/ˈbɛniɒf/; born David Friedman /ˈfriːdmən/; September 25, 1970) is an American screenwriter, television producer and writer, and novelist. He is the co-creator and showrunner of the widely acclaimed award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones.

David Benioff
David Benioff by Gage Skidmore 2
Benioff in 2016
Born
David Friedman

September 25, 1970 (age 48)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materDartmouth College
The Collegiate School
Trinity College Dublin
University of California, Irvine
OccupationScreenwriter, television producer, television writer, novelist
Years active2002–present
Spouse(s)
Amanda Peet (m. 2006)
Children3
Parent(s)Stephen Friedman

Early life

Benioff was born David Friedman in New York City, to a Jewish family with roots in Austria, Romania, Germany, Poland and Russia.[1][2] He is the son of Barbara (Benioff) and Stephen Friedman, who is a former head of Goldman Sachs.[3] He is a distant cousin of Marc Benioff.[4] As an adult, he uses the last name of Benioff, his mother's maiden name, to avoid confusion with other writers named David Friedman.[5] He is the youngest of three children (Suzy, Caroline, and David).[6] He grew up in Manhattan, first in Peter Cooper Village, then on 86th Street where he spent most of his childhood, before eventually moving near the U.N. headquarters when he was sixteen.[7]

He is an alumnus of The Collegiate School and of Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth he was a member of Phi Delta Alpha Fraternity and the Sphinx Senior Society. After he graduated in 1992, he worked in a number of jobs; for a time as a club bouncer in San Francisco, and he became a high school English teacher at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York City for two years, and served as the school's wrestling coach.[7][8] Benioff became interested in pursuing an academic career, and went to Trinity College Dublin in 1995 for a one-year program to study Irish literature, and while in Dublin he met D.B. Weiss, who would later become his collaborator.[1] He wrote a thesis on Samuel Beckett while at Trinity College, but decided against a career in academia after writing the thesis.[7] He worked as a radio DJ in Moose, Wyoming for a year—mostly as a side job, which he mainly accepted to take a year in the countryside as a writer's retreat.[9] He then applied to join the Creative Writing Program at the University of California Irvine after reading The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (an alumnus there),[10] and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing there in 1999.[11]

In 2001, People magazine included Benioff on its list of America's Top 50 Most Eligible Bachelors.[12]

Career

Writing career

Benioff spent two years writing his first published novel The 25th Hour,[13][14] originally titled Fireman Down, and completed the book as his thesis for his master's degree at Irvine.[15][16] He was asked to adapt the book into a screenplay after Tobey Maguire read a preliminary trade copy and became interested in making a film of the book.[11] It was filmed as 25th Hour, starring Edward Norton and directed by Spike Lee.[17][16] He then wrote a collection of short stories titled When the Nines Roll Over (And Other Stories) in 2004.[18]

Benioff drafted a screenplay of the mythological epic Troy (2004) for which Warner Bros pictures paid him $2.5 million.[19] He also wrote the script for the psychological thriller Stay (2005), which was directed by Marc Forster and starred Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. His screenplay for The Kite Runner (2007), adapted from the novel of the same name, marked his second collaboration with director Marc Forster.

He was hired in 2004 to write the screenplay for the X-Men spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). He based his script on Barry Windsor-Smith's "Weapon X" story, Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 limited series on the character,[20][21] as well as the 2001 limited series Origin.[22] Hugh Jackman collaborated on the script, which he wanted to be more of a character piece compared with the previous X-Men films.[23] Skip Woods was later hired by Fox to revise and rewrite Benioff's script.[24] Benioff had aimed for a "darker and a bit more brutal" story, writing it with an R rating in mind, although he acknowledged the film's final tone would rest with the producers and director.[20]

In 2006, Benioff became interested in adapting the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series by George R.R. Martin and began working with D.B. Weiss on a proposed television series Game of Thrones.[25] The pilot was put into development by HBO in 2007 and the series greenlit in 2010. They act as the executive producers, showrunners and writers of the show, which began airing on HBO in 2011. Benioff and Weiss had previously worked together on a script for a horror film titled The Headmaster, but it was never made.[7]

In 2008, his second novel, City of Thieves was published. He has been hired by Universal Pictures in October 2007 to write an adapted screenplay of the Charles R. Cross biography of Kurt Cobain but the screenplay was not used.[26]

On April 10, 2014, Benioff announced he and D.B. Weiss had taken on their first feature film project to write, produce and direct Dirty White Boys, a novel by Pulitzer prize-winning author Stephen Hunter.[27][28] On July 19, 2017, Benioff announced that he and Weiss are going to begin production on another HBO series, titled Confederate, after the final season of Game of Thrones. Benioff and Weiss said, "We have discussed Confederate for years, originally as a concept for a feature film, but our experience on Thrones has convinced us that no one provides a bigger, better storytelling canvas than HBO."[29]

On February 6, 2018, Disney announced that both Benioff and Weiss will write and produce a new series of Star Wars films after the finale season of Game of Thrones is completed in 2019.[30]

Directing career

Benioff and D.B. Weiss together directed two episodes of Game of Thrones, but used a coin-flip to decide who would get the credit on the show. Benioff was given the credit for episode 3 of the third season, "Walk of Punishment", while Weiss was credited with "Two Swords", the first episode of season 4.[7] Benioff and Weiss will direct the series finale of Game of Thrones.[31]

Personal life

On September 30, 2006, Benioff married actress Amanda Peet in New York City.[32] Together they have three children: Frances "Frankie"[33] Pen Friedman,[34] born February 20, 2007;[35] Molly June Friedman,[34] born in 2010; and Henry Peet[36] Friedman,[34] born December 6, 2014.[37] The family lives in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, California.

Bibliography

Author

Title Year Type Note
The 25th Hour 2001 Novel Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Plume; Reissue edition (January 29, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN 0-452-28295-0
When the Nines Roll Over (and Other Stories) 2004 Novel Hardcover: 223 pages
Publisher: Viking Books (August 19, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN 0-670-03339-1
City of Thieves 2008 Novel Hardcover: 281 pages
Publisher: Viking Books (May 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN 0-670-01870-8

Filmography

Film

Year Title Writer Director Producer Notes
2002 25th Hour Yes Nominated—Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay (2002)
2004 Troy Yes
2005 Stay Yes
When the Nines Roll Over Yes Yes Yes Short film based on a story from When the Nines Roll Over
2007 The Kite Runner Yes Christopher Award for Best Feature Film (2007)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film (2008)
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2008)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2007)
2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine Yes Wrote with Skip Woods
Brothers Yes
2019 Gemini Man Yes Wrote with Brian Helgeland and Andrew Niccol

Television

Year Title Writer Director Producer Notes
2011–present Game of Thrones Yes Yes Yes Co-creator
Executive producer
Directed and wrote episode: "Walk of Punishment"
Wrote: 45 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2015-2016, 2018)[38]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (2015-2016)[38]
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (2012)[39]
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2013-2014)[40][41]
Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2015)[42]
Golden Nymph Awards for Outstanding International Producer (2012)[43]
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2011-2014)[38]
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (2011-2014)[38]
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2011-2014, 2016, 2018)[44][45][46][47][48][49]
Nominated—BAFTA for Best International Programme (2013)[50]
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Dramatic Series (2011-2012, 2014-2016, 2018)[51][52][53][54][55][56]
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama (2015-2016)[54][55]
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for New Series (2011)[51]
Nominated—Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2015, 2017)[57][58]
Nominated—USC Scripter Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2016-2017)[59][60]
Nominated—Humanitas Prize for 60 Minute Network or Syndicated Television (2017)[61]
2013 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Yes Wrote episode: "Flowers for Charlie"
Bored Lifeguard #1 (cameo in "The Gang Goes to a Water Park")

See also

References

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  2. ^ Bloom, Nate (February 2, 2012). "Jewish Stars: genealogy and fairy tales". Cleveland Jewish News.
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External links

A Golden Crown

"A Golden Crown" is the sixth episode of the first season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones, first aired on May 22, 2011. The teleplay was written by Jane Espenson, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from a story by Benioff and Weiss, and directed by Daniel Minahan, his directorial debut for the series.

The episode's plot depicts the deterioration of the political balance of the seven kingdoms, with Eddard Stark having to deal with the Lannister aggressions while King Robert is away on a hunt. At the Eyrie, Tyrion is put on trial, and across the Narrow Sea, Viserys Targaryen is determined to force Khal Drogo to make him king. The title refers to the thing Viserys wants more than anything, and receives from Drogo in the most brutally ironic way possible.

The episode was well received by critics, who praised aspects of the King's Landing storyline and the culmination of Viserys's storyline. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 2.4 million in its initial broadcast.

A Man Without Honor

"A Man Without Honor" is the seventh episode of the second season of HBO's medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones.

The episode is written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and directed, for the second time in this season, by David Nutter. It premiered on May 13, 2012.

The name of the episode comes from Catelyn Stark's assessment of Ser Jaime Lannister: "You are a man without honor," after he kills a member of his own family to attempt escape.

Fire and Blood (Game of Thrones)

"Fire and Blood" is the tenth and final episode of the first season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. First aired on June 19, 2011, it was written by the show's creators and executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alan Taylor.

The title of the episode is the motto of House Targaryen, and alludes to the aftermath of the previous episode's climactic events. The episode's action revolves around the Starks' reactions to Eddard Stark's execution: Sansa is taken hostage, Arya flees in disguise, Robb and Catelyn lead an army against the Lannisters, and Jon Snow struggles with his divided loyalty. Across the narrow sea, Daenerys must deal with the blood magic that has robbed her of her husband, her son and her army.

The episode was well received by critics, who singled out the closing scene as a particularly strong way to end the first season. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 3.04 million in its initial broadcast. This episode was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series.

First of His Name

"First of His Name" is the fifth episode of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 35th overall. The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Michelle MacLaren. It aired on May 4, 2014.The title of the episode refers to a phrase used during Tommen Baratheon's coronation as king. A similar style is used by Daenerys Targaryen styling herself Queen in Meereen. Both are the first of their respective names to lay claim to the Throne of the Seven Kingdoms.

Hardhome

"Hardhome" is the eighth episode of the fifth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 48th overall. The episode was written by the series' creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Miguel Sapochnik.

The episode features a climactic battle sequence at the episode's eponymous Wildling village, a battle mentioned but not seen in the original source material. It has since been hailed by many reviewers and fans as one of the series' best episodes. Filming of the episode's eponymous battle required nearly a month shooting. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 7.01 million in its initial broadcast. The episode earned Game of Thrones several nominations at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards and was also Dinklage's pick to support his nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor.

This episode marks the only appearance for Birgitte Hjort Sørensen.

Lord Snow

"Lord Snow" is the third episode of the first season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. It first aired on May 1, 2011. It was written by the show creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by series regular Brian Kirk, his directorial debut for the series.The plot follows Jon Snow's training at The Wall; Eddard's arrival at King's Landing, followed by Catelyn, looking for Bran's would-be murderer; Arya reveals her desire to learn sword fighting to her father; Joffrey is given a lesson in ruling the Kingdom by Cersei, and Robert longs for the glory of his past. Meanwhile, Daenerys learns she is pregnant. The episode was the first to feature Old Nan, played by Margaret John, who died before the series was broadcast; the episode is dedicated to her memory in the final credit.

The title of the episode is the demeaning nickname given to Jon Snow by Ser Alliser Thorne, the sadistic trainer of Night's Watch recruits, referring to the fact that he's highborn, yet ended up at the Wall.

Critical reception was generally positive, with critics praising Maisie Williams for her portrayal of Arya Stark, and her sword lesson scenes, as well as the introduction of the Small Council, and further character development for the series. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 2.4 million in its initial broadcast.

Mockingbird (Game of Thrones)

"Mockingbird" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 37th overall. The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alik Sakharov. It aired on May 18, 2014.The title refers to the symbol of House Baelish, Littlefinger's house.

This episode marks the final appearance of Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn).

Mother's Mercy

"Mother's Mercy" is the fifth season finale episode of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 50th overall. The tenth and final episode of the fifth season, the episode was written by the series creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and directed by David Nutter.

"Mother's Mercy" garnered critical acclaim, with critics lauding Lena Headey's performance, David Nutter's direction and the writing of Benioff and Weiss. Particular praise was directed to Cersei Lannister's walk of atonement, which involved a body double and the use of CGI. In the United States, the episode premiere achieved a viewership of 8.11 million, making it the show's most watched episode, until it was surpassed by the season six finale, "The Winds of Winter". The episode won Emmy Awards for Writing in a Drama Series and Directing in a Drama Series for Benioff, Weiss, and Nutter.

This episode marks the final appearance for Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon), Tara Fitzgerald (Selyse Bratheon), and Ian Beattie (Ser Meryn Trant).

Second Sons

"Second Sons" is the eighth episode of the third season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 28th episode of the series. The episode was written by executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Michelle MacLaren. It aired on May 19, 2013 (2013-05-19).

The episode is centered on the wedding of Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark in King's Landing, Gendry's arrival at Dragonstone and Daenerys's meeting with the mercenary company of the Second Sons before the walls of Yunkai.

The Children (Game of Thrones)

"The Children" is the fourth season finale of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 40th overall. The tenth and final episode of the fourth season, the episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alex Graves.

"The Children" received overwhelming acclaim from critics, with praise directed at the deaths of Shae and Tywin Lannister, Bran reaching the Heart Tree and the fight scene between Brienne and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane.

This episode marks the final appearances of Sibel Kekilli (Shae), Rose Leslie (Ygritte) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen Reed).

The Climb (Game of Thrones)

"The Climb" is the sixth episode of the third season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 26th episode of the series. Directed by Alik Sakharov and written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, it aired on May 5, 2013.

The episode's title comes from climbing of the wall by Jon Snow and Ygritte, and also the references from dialogue between Lord Petyr Baelish and Lord Varys.

The episode marks the final appearance of Esmé Bianco.

The Kingsroad

"The Kingsroad" is the second episode of the first season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones, first aired on April 24, 2011. It was written by the show creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Tim Van Patten.Nearly all the action of the episode happens during travel: Eddard Stark and his daughters accompany the king's entourage to King's Landing to occupy the post of Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister joins Jon in his travel to the Wall, and the newly wed Daenerys goes with her husband's khalasar to the city of Vaes Dothrak. Meanwhile, in Winterfell a grieving Catelyn Stark watches over her unconscious son Bran.

The title of the episode refers to the long road that snakes throughout Westeros, eventually ending at King's Landing.

Viewing figures were unchanged from the premiere, despite the second episode airing on Easter Sunday. Critical reception to the episode was favorable. Filming locations included several notable Northern Ireland locations, and the filming itself was complicated by the difficulty of integrating canine actors into several crucial scenes. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 2.2 million in its initial broadcast.

The Mountain and the Viper

"The Mountain and the Viper" is the eighth episode of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 38th overall. The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alex Graves. It aired on June 1, 2014.This episode marks the final appearance of Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell).

The Prince of Winterfell

"The Prince of Winterfell" is the eighth episode of the second season of HBO's medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. The episode is written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and directed, for the third time in this season, by Alan Taylor. It premiered on May 20, 2012.

The title of the episode refers to Theon Greyjoy as ruler of Winterfell after disposing of the Stark children, although this is only said in the books and is never explicitly mentioned in the series.

The Rains of Castamere

"The Rains of Castamere" is the ninth and penultimate episode of the third season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 29th episode of the series. The episode was written by executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by David Nutter. It aired on June 2, 2013 (2013-06-02).

The episode is centered on the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey, one of the most memorable events of the book series, commonly called "The Red Wedding", during which Robb Stark and his banner-men are massacred. Other storylines include Bran Stark's group having to separate, Jon Snow's loyalties being tested, and Daenerys plotting her invasion of the city of Yunkai. The title is a song belonging to the Lannister family, whose lyrics foreshadow the Red Wedding and which is played by the band at the wedding right before the slaughter begins.

This episode earned Benioff and Weiss a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.This episode marks the final appearance of Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Oona Chaplin (Talisa Stark) and Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark).

The Watchers on the Wall

"The Watchers on the Wall" is the ninth and penultimate episode of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 39th overall. The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Neil Marshall. It aired on June 8, 2014.Like season two's "Blackwater" (also directed by Marshall), the episode focuses exclusively on one storyline: the Wildling assault on Castle Black and the Wall, and the Night's Watch defense, led by Ser Alliser Thorne and Jon Snow.

The Wolf and the Lion

"The Wolf and the Lion" is the fifth episode of the first season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones, first aired on May 15, 2011. It was written by the show creators and executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Brian Kirk.The events of the episode primarily deal with Lord Eddard Stark's investigations into the death of the previous Hand. In the city of King's Landing, the Tourney of the Hand comes to an end while the various factions that plot for power are revealed to the viewer. This delicate balance is undone when news arrives that Tyrion Lannister has been arrested by Catelyn Stark. The title of the episode refers to the fact that the Starks, whose sigil is a wolf, may soon be at war with the Lannisters, whose sigil is the lion.

With this episode the season hits its halfway mark and the action picks up considerably. Despite being a topic of discussion at King's Landing, Daenerys and Jorah Mormont do not themselves appear in this episode. Jon Snow and all characters on the Wall are also absent, and Robb Stark does not appear in Winterfell scenes. Accordingly, Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Richard Madden and Kit Harington all have their names omitted from the opening titles. The Eyrie appears as a new location between King's Landing and Winterfell on the opening's map.

The episode was also particularly well-received critically, with multiple critics praising the omission of the Wall and Dothraki plotlines giving this episode a relatively more focused feel. In the United States, the episode achieved a viewership of 2.58 million in its initial broadcast.

Valar Morghulis

"Valar Morghulis" is the tenth and final episode of the second season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. It is the sixth episode of season 2 to be written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and is directed by Alan Taylor, his fourth episode of the season. 64 minutes long, it aired on June 3, 2012.

The episode's title is a code phrase spoken by Jaqen H'ghar to Arya Stark during the episode, but its meaning is not explained until the third-season episode, "Walk of Punishment": "All men must die." This is consistent with the meaning given in the books upon which the series is based.This episode marks the final appearance of Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo).

Winter Is Coming

"Winter Is Coming" is the series premiere episode of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. The first episode of the first season, it was written by the show creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, in a faithful adaptation of the first chapters of George R. R. Martin's book A Game of Thrones. The episode was directed by Tim Van Patten, redoing the work done by director Tom McCarthy in an unaired pilot.

As the first episode of the series, it introduces the setting and the main characters of the show. The episode centers on the Stark family, and how its lord, Eddard Stark, gets involved in the court politics after the king chooses Eddard to replace his recently deceased chief administrator ("Hand of the King"). The episode received largely positive reviews, and was seen initially by 2.2 million viewers. A week before the episode first aired, HBO made the first 15 minutes available as an Internet preview.

The title of the episode is the motto (referred to as "House Words" in-universe) of House Stark, which is spoken several times in the episode and in the series.

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