‘Game of Thrones’ Creators Recall ‘Painful Experience’ of Completely Overhauling Show’s Pilot

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss dish on their unaired pilot, which a screenwriter friend called “a complete piece of shit”

Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke/HBO

“Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss  called the original pilot for their hit HBO series “one of the most painful experiences” of their lives.

“It took us almost four years to get the pilot made,” said Benioff on the “Scriptnotes” podcast. “And we finished it. We’d been overseas for about seven months.”

Then they showed the pilot to fellow screenwriters Craig Mazin, Ted Griffin, and Scott Frank. “Watching them watch that original pilot was one of the most painful experiences of my life,” he said. “I mean, it’s probably like appendicitis and that. And Craig, as soon as it finished, Craig said –”

“You guys have a massive problem,” Mazin added, who is one of the host’s of the podcast alongside John August.

In fact, Mazin told Benioff and Weiss to “change everything,” which they did to the point where “literally, so much of it was reshot that a different director got credit.”

Mazin saw the newly shot pilot, which was 92 percent redone, and praised the duo for taking “a complete piece of shit” and turning it into “something brilliant.”

“And I sat there, and this show unfolds, the first episode, and I am stunned,” Mazin said. “Stunned. And I very specifically remember walking out in between and you were there, and I said to you, ‘That is the biggest rescue in Hollywood history,’ because it wasn’t just that you had saved something bad and turned it really good. You had saved a complete piece of shit, and turned it into something brilliant. That never happens. Here’s the crazy part. You guys, it’s honestly true, you guys are like a die that has all 20s on it, and then there was one 1, and you happen to roll the 1 when you made that pilot. That was it, it was a fluke. Everything since then … Everything since then has been outstanding.”

“Game of Thrones” returns for its sixth season on April 24 on HBO.