George R.R. Martin pushed for “House of the Dragon” to be the first “Game of Thrones” spinoff. Eventually, he got his wish.

George RR Martin is finally getting the show he wanted

“House of the Dragon,” the “Game of Thrones” author’s favorite spinoff, premieres Sunday night. “It had everything I thought we needed for a successful successor show,” he said.

In the five years when HBO programming executives were carefully considering a worthy successor to “Game of Thrones,” there was one idea that George R.R. Martin continued to insist: his tale of the dragon-riding Targaryen family’s rise and fall, almost set”. 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones”.

There was some reluctance within HBO’s ranks about making a series that, like the original, was about the fight for the Iron Throne. A pair of writers assigned to work on the Targaryen concept came and went, but Martin didn’t give up. Then, HBO shot — and canceled — a separate “Thrones” prequel pilot, Martin’s persistence. “House of the Dragon” was ordered straight to the series in late 2019. Martin is the producer of the show along with Ryan Kondal.

“House of the Dragon,” the first “Thrones” spinoff series, premieres Sunday night, and the stakes are high for HBO. A hit could prove the viability of the Thrones Cinematic Universe. A mediocre performance (or worse) will prompt broader questions about whether millions of viewers are yearning for a more “Thrones” series.

In a talk late last month, Martin, the man who carefully created the “Throne” universe in his various books over the past three decades, discussed why he feels strongly about the idea; his ambitions for future spinoffs; And how his work-in-progress books will detract from the controversial ending of the TV series “Game of Thrones.”

These are edited excerpts from our conversation.

Two writers worked on the development of your Targaryen story and it went nowhere. What have you been insisting on?

I didn’t want to drop it. There was already a lot of material written on it, and it had everything I felt we needed for a successful successor show. It contained all the intrigue surrounding the Iron Throne. Big families were fighting in this. There were dragons in it – lots of dragons – and fighting and betrayal.

“House of the Dragon” has thematic overlaps with “Game of Thrones” – family rivalry, battle for the throne. In what ways is it different?

“Game of Thrones” and my book version of it, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” are, in some ways, a classic high fantasy in the genre of Tolkien and the many, many authors who followed. Now, yes, it is true that in a sense, I am reconstructing those tropes, those myths, those things that were hallmarks. But I am also following them to some extent. “House of the Dragon” is like a historical legend with some dragons thrown in. It’s like a Shakespearean tragedy.

It’s just over three years since “Game of Thrones” ended, which disappointed many fans. what did you do in the end?

There was one thing in the later seasons of the show, how many seasons were there going to be? And [“Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss] had been saying for years that they wanted to wrap it up in seven seasons. Well, seven turns eight because the eighth season is actually the second half of the seventh season — it’s kind of a long season.

But I never felt that seven or eight seasons was enough. I campaigned for 10 seasons, and we could go up to 12. There is enough material — and there will certainly be enough material when I finish these last two books — to sustain 12 seasons.

But I lost that fight, and we went with eight. I think one of the big complaints about those last seasons was not only what happened—though there are complaints about it—but also that it happened too abruptly, and it wasn’t set up. And if we had 10 seasons or 12 seasons, I think it would have worked out better.

Considering the backlash, what is your level of concern for the new show, that people are either too tired to return to the “Throne” universe, or will enjoy bringing out the knife, no matter what?

I see people’s comments online, and sometimes they email me directly. I am concerned about a similar thing with my book. As you know, “Winds of Winter” is very, very late – the last book was 11 years ago, and people are very angry about it. But how many people?

“House of the Dragon” and any other spinoffs to come, and “Winds of Winter” when it arrives, will face some immediate backlash, and some resistance from those who give it a chance. don’t want to give.

Let’s say “House of the Dragon” is a hit. What would be your ideal ambition here? A whole fleet of “Thrones” TV series?

Well, we are developing several other spinoffs. Jon Snow is the sequel show, and the rest are prequels. There is “Ten Thousand Ships” about Nymeria – it’s like a thousand years ago and how Roynar came to Dorne. It is an epic like “Odyssey”. Corliss valerione, the sea snake has nine journeys. It will take us to places in the world we have never seen.

We have a few animated shows going on, one of which was set in Yi Ti, which is basically a fictionalized version of Imperial China or the Far East. We’ve got a great script on that. Obviously, not all of these shows we’re developing are going to air, but I hope many of them do.

Is there a model you admire? Something like Marvel?

I love what Marvel is doing because I love the diversity of the show. Another model that I think was interesting was the old “Mary Tyler Moore Show”. That show spawned several spinoffs: “Rhoda” was about her friend. Phyllis got her show. And the one that really got me excited was “Lou Grant.” He took this character from a sitcom and made him the hero of a serious journalism show. It’s pretty amazing to take a character who’s a comic foil and make him the center of a serious show. I want to see a range in my show.

Before “House of the Dragon” got the green light, HBO shot an entire pilot for the show, set 1,000 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” It was eventually cancelled. What went wrong with it?

Well, I haven’t seen the pilot. For whatever reason they won’t show it to me, so I don’t know. It was, in some ways, more challenging because at that, they’re really, really going back to the past. The Long Night is mentioned here and there in my books, but it is an ancient event that people tell stories about – be it the Garden of Eden or the Biblical flood. I remember when we were first developing this, I said, “You’re going so far — if you decided to do the ‘Sopranos’ prequel, you’re talking about Tony Soprano’s ancestor, the Etruscans. You must be talking about cave men.”

Tell me about the level of your participation in “House of the Dragon”, the level of your involvement with the original series “Game of Thrones”.

I’m a lot more involved in “House of the Dragon” than in the later seasons of “Game of Thrones.” Now, mind you, I was very involved in the early season of “Game of Thrones.” Seasons 1 to 4, I mean, I not only wrote a script, but especially like in season 1 or 2, I was judging all the casting. I was reading the script. I was talking to Dan and David. I visited the set. But as the years passed, this participation dwindled.

Will your upcoming books be different from the TV series “Thrones”?

A lot of this story comes to me as I write it. I always knew that once the show would overtake my books – which honestly I didn’t anticipate – they would start going in a direction that the books were not going in. Now, as I’m writing books and I’m making more and more progress and it’s getting longer, I have ideas and characters taking me in the direction the show went was.

So I think what you’re going to find is that when “Winds of Winter” and then, hopefully, “Dreams of Spring” come out, my ending will be very different. And there would be some similarities, some big moments that I told David and Dan about years ago, when they came to visit me in Santa Fe. But we only had two, three days there, so I didn’t tell them everything. And even some of the things I told them are changing as I write. Then they will be different. And then it will be up to the readers and viewers to decide which one they like better, and argue about it.

When will the books be ready?

No comments. No comments. No comments. Whenever I do this I get in trouble. I mean, going back like 10 years, I said, “Oh, I should be done next year.” And then it is not done next year. And then: “George lied to us.” I am not good at predicting these things. And some of it depends on how many other blockages there are and all that. I am in a very good place now, so I am optimistic. But I’m not going to make any predictions.

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