David Benioff

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David Benioff
David Benioff by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Born
David Friedman

(1970-09-25) September 25, 1970 (age 49)
New York City, New York, U.S.
EducationDartmouth College (BA)
Trinity College Dublin
University of California, Irvine (MFA)
OccupationScreenwriter, television producer, television writer, director, novelist
Years active2002–present
Spouse(s)
Amanda Peet (m. 2006)
Children3
Parent(s)Stephen Friedman
Barbara Benioff

David Benioff (/ˈbɛniɒf/; born David Friedman /ˈfrdmən/; September 25, 1970) is an American screenwriter and television producer, writer, and director. Along with his collaborator D. B. Weiss, he is best known as co-creator, showrunner and writer of Game of Thrones (2011–2019), the HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin's series of books A Song of Ice and Fire. He is also known for writing Troy (2004), and co-writing X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

Early life[edit]

Benioff was born David Friedman in New York City, to a Jewish family who emigrated from 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 Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.[4] As an adult, he uses the last name Benioff, his mother's maiden name, to avoid confusion with other writers named David Friedman.[4][5] He is the youngest of three children (Suzy, Caroline, and David)[6] and 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 16.[7]

Benioff 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 graduating in 1992, he worked in a number of jobs: for a time as a club bouncer in San Francisco, and as a high school English teacher at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York City for two years, where he 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. While in Dublin he met D. B. Weiss, who would later become his collaborator.[1] Benioff 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 at 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[edit]

Writing career[edit]

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] The film adaptation, titled 25th Hour and starring Edward Norton, was directed by Spike Lee.[16][17] Benioff then wrote a collection of short stories titled When the Nines Roll Over (And Other Stories) (2004).[18]

He 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 stars 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.

Benioff 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 George R.R. Martin's novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire, and began working with D. B. Weiss on a proposed television series, Game of Thrones.[25] The pilot, "Winter Is Coming", was put into development by HBO in 2007 and the series greenlit in 2010. Benioff and Weiss 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 October 2007, Universal Pictures hired Benioff to write an adapted screenplay of the Charles R. Cross biography of Kurt Cobain, but the screenplay was not used.[26] In 2008, Benioff's second novel, City of Thieves, was published.

On April 10, 2014, Benioff announced he and Weiss had taken on their first feature film project to write, produce, and direct Dirty White Boys, a novel by the 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 final season of Game of Thrones is completed in 2019.[30]

Towards the end of the final season of Game of Thrones, a petition to HBO was started on Change.org. It described showrunners Benioff and Weiss as "woefully incompetent writers", and thus demanded "competent writers" to remake the eighth season of Game of Thrones in a manner "that makes sense".[31] The petition eventually amassed over 1.5 million signatures.[32] Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun Times, described that the backlash to the eighth season was so great that in his 25+ years of reviewing movies and television, he doubts that he has "ever seen the level of fan (and to a lesser degree, critical) vitriol leveled at" Game of Thrones.[33]

Directing career[edit]

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 season 3 episode 3, "Walk of Punishment", while Weiss was credited with season 4 episode 1, "Two Swords".[7] Benioff and Weiss also co-directed the series finale.[34]

Personal life[edit]

On September 30, 2006, Benioff married actress Amanda Peet in New York City.[35] Together they have three children.[36] The family lives in Manhattan and Beverly Hills.

Bibliography[edit]

Author[edit]

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 Short Story Collection 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[edit]

Film[edit]

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 Co-wrote with Skip Woods
Brothers Yes
2019 Gemini Man Yes Co-wrote with Billy Ray and Darren Lemke

Television[edit]

Year Title Writer Director Producer Notes
2011–2019 Game of Thrones Yes Yes Yes Co-creator
Executive producer
Directed and wrote episode: "Walk of Punishment"
Directed and wrote episode (with D. B. Weiss):"The Iron Throne"
Wrote: 45 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2015-2016, 2018)[37]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (2015-2016)[37]
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (2012)[38]
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2013-2014)[39][40]
Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2015)[41]
Golden Nymph Awards for Outstanding International Producer (2012)[42]
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2011-2014)[37]
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (2011-2014)[37]
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2011-2014, 2016, 2018)[43][44][45][46][47][48]
Nominated—BAFTA for Best International Programme (2013)[49]
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Dramatic Series (2011-2012, 2014-2016, 2018)[50][51][52][53][54][55]
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama (2015-2016)[53][54]
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for New Series (2011)[50]
Nominated—Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2015, 2017)[56][57]
Nominated—USC Scripter Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2016-2017)[58][59]
Nominated—Humanitas Prize for 60 Minute Network or Syndicated Television (2017)[60]
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[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]