“Game of Thrones” returns for its third season on Sunday, March 31, and the fantasy drama, based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, will be just as brutal and erotic as the first two seasons, according to its creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
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“George’s books are violent and they are sexual and we didn’t want to shy away from any of that,” Benioff told XfinityTV.com in a conference call. “We didn’t want to have PG-style sword fights, where you see a sword go through somebody and exit and there is no blood splatter anywhere. That has always been part of our concept for the show.”
At the premiere for Season 3, Natalie Tena, who plays Osha, revealed to XfinityTV.com that there was something gruesome that takes place with bunnies, but Benioff explains it away as not a brutal scene, but rather as something that people have to do in the “Game of Thrones” world in order to survive.
“She is describing a scene where they are preparing their breakfast, which is a little more gruesome than emptying your box of cereal into a bowl,” Benioff adds. “We have someone in a slaughterhouse doing all the dirty work for us, wrapping all the meat up and sending it to a supermarket, so we don’t see it. But if you are trying to survive in the woods by hunting, then you have to do some of that stuff. That particular scene wasn’t there for shock value.”
That said, this season, which is loosely based on the first half of Martin’s third book in the series, A Storm of Swords, will still be brutal and grim, but not with an “Evil Dead 2” gore-house effect.
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Here are a few more reveals from Benioff and Weiss about “Game of Thrones”:
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to following the book: With Martin’s books being as complex as they are, Benioff and Weiss try to keep from letting their world get too big to avoid things becoming too confusing. They have no trouble deviating from the book to maintain the quality of series.
“Oftentimes, what we do is just a bit compression,” Benioff explains. “There are so many characters we have come to know quite well. played memorably by these incredible actors, so oftentimes, when in doubt, we prefer to have our known characters and our brilliant actors who are with us all the time taking over from the more minor characters.”
Several new characters will be added: Olenna (Diana Rigg), Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds), and Jojen and Meera Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Ellie Kendrick) will be joining the cast. In the case of the Reeds, the decision was made to hold them until Season 3 even though they were in the second book because “we just felt they’d make more impact coming in later,” Benioff says.
“Game of Thrones” is not excessively sexual or violent: In fact, the creators think the books are much sexier. They only put in elements that feel move the story along and there is a lot that they leave out.
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“It doesn’t really bother me if people are offended,” Weiss says. “That is their right. I don’t really get it. What bothers me is when people say, “‘You made it so much more sexual than the book,’ which is patently untrue. I think because they are seeing things on the screen — you are actually seeing someone’s body — it is more in your face than when you are reading it on the page.”
The budget for Season 3 is bigger and more evenly distributed: HBO has been very supportive of the show and gives the producers what they need according to what is required.
“This season is more expensive than previous seasons without a doubt,” Weiss says. “The difference between, say, this season and Season 2 is that where an inordinate amount of the resources of Season 2 went into the last two episodes specifically, especially the ninth episode, in this season, there is a slight back loading effect of how we use our resources. I would say the resources were spread more evenly across the season, which leads to more sensational scale/scope/epic-type of scenes being spread throughout the season.”
Jack Gleeson almost didn’t get cast as Joffrey: Just prior to leaving for a casting day in Dublin, Benioff and Weiss thought they had found the actor to play Joffrey. But since Gleeson was already scheduled to read for them in Dublin, they agreed to see him — and it was a happy surprise.
“Jack came in and he didn’t look right for the part,” Benioff explains. “He was scrawny and the nicest kid in the world. He had this Dublin accent, and then, when it came time to audition, he transformed himself for the role. By the time he finished his 90-second audition, we knew he was our Joffrey.”
Watch: “Game of Thrones” Stars Reveal How to Binge Watch Their Show:
“Game of Thrones” premieres Sunday, March 31 at 9/8c on HBO.