The wait for Game of Thrones season two is nearly over. Get ready for Sunday’s premiere with EW’s in-depth interview with writer-producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the showrunners behind HBO’s acclaimed fantasy series. Without revealing any major spoilers, find out which characters get more screen time this year, how the producers pulled off shooting dragons, battles, magic and direwolves, some of the changes from George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” book series, preliminary plans for a third season (yes, Book 3 will be split), and more.
What are some of the biggest challenges of season 2?
Weiss: It’s a bigger fish to fry. It needs to be real battles and dragons and direwolves. And we’ve got all these characters that you’ve hopefully have fallen in love with that we need to keep vibrant. We’ve got all these new people who hopefully will be equally compelling. The way George has dealt with that challenge is to start making the books longer. We will have that luxury if we’re lucky enough to be allowed to continue making the series. But in terms of each season, we got 10 episodes, and that’s literally all that’s conceivable to [produce] of this particular show.
Benioff: You know, what was scary during the first season is you’re doing all this work and you have no idea if it’s just gonna sink into the ocean without a trace. At least knowing that there’s a fan base out there that’s waiting for these shows … that helped a lot.
So it’s more visually grand this time?
Weiss: Yeah. Most shows, once you’ve got the office or the apartment building that it’s set in, you’ve got it. You have that asset where the vast bulk of your principle action is going to take place. For us, we just keep adding new locations.
Like Iceland. How was that?
Benioff: The whole reason we’re going there, of course, is to better portray North of the Wall. We were actually facing the unsatisfying, extravagant, expensive possibility of snowing up a field in the middle of Ireland and having people walk into green screens. Or we could go to the most beautiful scene on earth and stick people on a the middle of a glacier. It’s just so much more exciting than shooting with a green screen.
Weiss: Our general approach with everything is if there’s something real that we can build on and use effects to turn into our world, that’s always better. It’s always going to be better to start with a real foundation, whether it’s a castle or a canyon encampment, or whatever. In Iceland, there’s not a damn thing you need to do. It looks like no other place on earth.
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