Game of Thrones is arguably the biggest TV show with an incredibly massive fanbase that is currently eagerly awaiting Season 6, which is set to debut Sunday, April 24. While we wait for any footage to arrive from the new season, some intriguing details have been revealed from series creators/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The writers/producers recently appeared on the ScriptNotes podcast, where they teased the now-legendary original pilot, which fans never saw, and may have brought the TV series to an end before it even started.
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss originally enlisted Thomas McCarthy (Spotlight) to direct the pilot, although that version of the first episode was never seen by the fans. Before the showrunners eventually hired Timothy Van Patten to direct the pilot that everyone saw, they showed the original episode to a group of their writer friends, one of which was ScriptNotes co-host Craig Mazin, along with Ted Griffin (Ocean's Eleven) and Scott Frank (A Walk Among the Tombstones). During their podcast appearance, D.B. Weiss shared his thoughts about his friends' reactions to the pilot.
"Watching them watch that original pilot was one of the most painful experiences of my life. As soon as it finished, Craig [Mazin] said, 'You guys have a massive problem.' None of (our friends) realized that Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) were brother and sister, which is a major, major plot point that we had somehow failed to establish."
There was a lot that changed between the first, unaired pilot and the official pilot. Catelyn Stark was recast, with Michelle Fairley replacing Jennifer Ehle, while Emilia Clarke was also brought on to replace Tamzin Merchant as Daenerys Targaryen. There were also entire sequences that were cut, such as a flashback to the execution of Ned Stark's father and the onscreen death of Jon Arryn. David Benioff added that he was taking notes while Craig Mazin offered his thoughts.
"I was taking notes, and I had this yellow legal pad, and I just remembered writing in all caps, 'MASSIVE PROBLEM,' and it's all I could think about the rest of the night. Craig didn't really have any great ideas except that he said 'change everything.'"
Weiss went on to add that over 90% of the original pilot was reshot, with Timothy Van Patten at the helm, and the rest is history. Obviously, the show went on to become a huge success, but it's quite remarkable how they managed to turn the pilot around. Craig Mazin revealed that, when he saw the pilot at the premiere, he was "stunned" at their turnaround.
"I will never forget being invited to the premiere of the first season. I went in just thinking (skeptically), 'Well, I guess we'll just see how this goes.' I sat there and this show unfolds and I am stunned. Stunned. And I very specifically remember walking out and I said to [Weiss and Benioff], 'That is the biggest rescue in Hollywood history.' Because it wasn't just that they had saved something bad and turned it really good. You had saved a complete piece of s--t and turned it into something brilliant. That never happens!"
Perhaps one of these days, HBO will release the original pilot, maybe after the show ends its run, just to give fans a glimpse at the show's original roots. Until then, we can only imagine what an "awful" version of Game of Thrones might look like. We also reported last month that HBO is close to issuing a renewal for Season 7 and Season 8, months before Game of Thrones Season 6 airs. What do you think about these new details?