The "Game of Thrones" test that David Benioff and Dan Weiss needed to pass

"So who do you think Jon Snow's real mother is?" was the question that "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin asked David Benioff and Dan Weiss before agreeing to allow them to make the HBO version of Martin's book series

Could you pass the “Game of Thrones” test?

Anderson Cooper speaks with David Benioff and Dan Weiss, executive producers for "Game of Thrones." Below is a transcript.


Anderson Cooper: There was a meeting that you had with George R.R. Martin at The Palm. I mean, is that where this was sort of born?

Dave Benioff: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so we called--

Dan Weiss: That was the first time we'd ever met. I mean, the-- the gatekeeper for this was George.

Anderson Cooper: You had to get George R.R. Martin onboard--

Dan Weiss: We had to get his permission to even bring this to HBO to begin with 'cause there were-- they'd gone out to lots of people and the-- the-- the money-- I would imagine, for the feature rights to it, upfront money, would have been a lot more. And so obviously there was--

Anderson Cooper: Pe-- people have been tryin' to make--

Dave Benioff: --a lot of movie studios, yeah.

Anderson Cooper: --movies out of George's books for a long time--

Dan Weiss: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. And so we were-- what we thought we were facing was a real uphill battle of trying to explain to him why he should avoid all of these film offers and accept this-- these two guys who've never made a television show before in their lives as the-- the shepherds of his baby that you'd think he'd spent, you know, 20 years of his life, his imaginative life, working on.

Anderson Cooper: I mean, no disrespect, though, you were relatively novice in-- in this realm of television--

Dave Benioff: Yeah. It's not disrespectful. It's a fact--

Dan Weiss: Yes. No.

Dave Benioff: I mean, we had never produced anything.

Dave Benioff: I think what worked in our favor was that he had met with these studio people before. He'd had Hollywood experiences. He'd been burnt. He kinda felt he didn't need to do that anymore. He'd had these Hollywood meetings with studio folks who probably had never actually read the books, had read the coverage and just sort of thought, you know, "This will be the next 'Lord of the Rings.'" I think what impressed him about us wasn't-- certainly wasn't our experience, since we had none, it was the fact that we had read the books really carefully and we knew exactly what we wanted to do, which was pretty close to exactly what he had done in the books. And, you know, this-- the-- the thing I'll remember most vividly-- until my mind goes in ten years-- was him sitting across from us at this table at The Palm after he'd finished his steak and he kind of wiped his hands clean on the napkin and he said, "So, who do you think Jon Snow's real mother is?"

Anderson Cooper: This was a test.

Dave Benioff: It was a test--

Dan Weiss: It was a Wonka test. Yeah.

Dave Benioff: Absolutely a test question. And we got it right--

Dan Weiss: And we-- we got it right.

Dave Benioff: And I think we were the first ones who (LAUGH) got that question right luckily. So-- so we got the go-ahead.

The video above was edited by Will Croxton.