Adapting books into shows and movies certainly isn't a new concept in Hollywood, and George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman are two authors who are no strangers to seeing their work put onscreen. Martin is best known for writing the books that Game of Thrones and now House of the Dragon are based on, and Gaiman's most recent project was Netflix's Sandman with a second season of Good Omens on the way. Recently, the two authors had a conversation at New York City's Symphony Space (via Variety) and commiserated about unfaithful adaptations.
Martin talked about the "obligation to be faithful to the written material," which he called a "controversial" issue in Hollywood. "How faithful do you have to be? Some people don't feel that they have to be faithful at all. There's this phrase that goes around: 'I'm going to make it my own.' I hate that phrase. And I think Neil probably hates that phrase, too," Martin shared. "I do," Gaiman replied. "I spent 30 years watching people make Sandman their own. And some of those people hadn't even read Sandman to make it their own, they'd just flipped through a few comics or something." Gaiman said that it was a "joy" getting to make The Sandman for Netflix, and Martin pleased the crowd by exclaiming, "We want Season 2!"
Martin continued, "There are changes that you have to make – or that you're called upon to make – that I think are legitimate. And there are other ones that are not legitimate." He brought up adapting Roger Zelazny's The Last Defender of Camelot for an episode of The Twilight Zone and how budget constraints forced him to choose between having horses or an elaborate Stonehenge-esque set. "That, to my mind, is the kind of stuff you are called upon to do in Hollywood that is legitimate." He added an example of an "illegitimate" change, saying CBS made him include an "ordinary person" who just "tags along" in the episode in order to appeal to a "high concept." He explained, "I was new to Hollywood ... I didn't say, 'You're f*cking morons.'"
"Why is the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones not the Iron Throne as described in the books? Why is it not 15 feet high and made of 10,000 swords? Because the ceiling in our soundstage was not 15 feet high! We couldn't fit it in there, and they weren't willing to give us St. Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey to shoot our little show in," Martin joked.
House of the Dragon's first season is available to watch on HBO Max.