September 25, 1970
|Education||Dartmouth College (BA)|
Trinity College Dublin
University of California, Irvine (MFA)
|Occupation||Screenwriter, television producer, television director, novelist|
David Friedman (// //; born September 25, 1970), better known by his pen name David Benioff, 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).
Benioff was born David Friedman in New York City, the youngest of three children in a Jewish family with ancestral roots in Austria, Romania, Germany, Poland and Russia. He is the son of Barbara (née Benioff) and Stephen Friedman, who is a former head of Goldman Sachs. He is a distant cousin of Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. He has two older sisters, Suzy and Caroline. 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.
Benioff is an alumnus of 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.
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. Benioff wrote a thesis on Samuel Beckett while at Trinity College, but decided against a career in academia after writing the thesis. 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. 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), and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing there in 1999.
In 2001, People magazine included Benioff on its list of America's Top 50 Most Eligible Bachelors.
As an adult, he began using the pen name "David Benioff" when his first novel was published in 2001. "Benioff" is his mother's maiden name. He explained that he did this to avoid confusion with other writers named David Friedman. For legal purposes, his copyright filings from the 2010s onwards list him as "David Benioff Friedman".
Benioff spent two years writing his first published novel The 25th Hour, originally titled Fireman Down, and completed the book as his thesis for his master's degree at Irvine. 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. The film adaptation, titled 25th Hour and starring Edward Norton, was directed by Spike Lee. Benioff then wrote a collection of short stories titled When the Nines Roll Over (And Other Stories) (2004).
He drafted a screenplay of the mythological epic Troy (2004), for which Warner Bros. pictures paid him $2.5 million. 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, as well as the 2001 limited series Origin. Hugh Jackman collaborated on the script, which he wanted to be more of a character piece compared with the previous X-Men films. Skip Woods was later hired by Fox to revise and rewrite Benioff's script. 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.
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. The pilot, "Winter Is Coming", was put into development by HBO in 2007 and the series greenlit in 2010. Benioff and Weiss acted 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.
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. 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. On July 19, 2017, Benioff announced that he and Weiss would produce 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." The announcement of Confederate was met with public animosity, and as of August 2019 (when Benioff and Weiss' deal with Netflix deal was announced) would not be moving forward.
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". The petition eventually amassed over 1.5 million signatures. 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.
In early August 2019, Benioff and Weiss negotiated an exclusive multi-year film and television deal with Netflix worth US$200 million. Due to their commitments to Netflix, Benioff and Weiss exited their contract to produce Star Wars films for Disney and Lucasfilm.
Benioff and 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". Benioff and Weiss co-directed the series finale.
|The 25th Hour||2001||Novel||Paperback: 224 pages|
Publisher: Plume; Reissue edition (January 29, 2002)
|When the Nines Roll Over (and Other Stories)||2004||Short story collection||Hardcover: 223 pages|
Publisher: Viking Books (August 19, 2004)
|City of Thieves||2008||Novel||Hardcover: 281 pages|
Publisher: Viking Books (May 15, 2008)
|2002||25th Hour||Yes||No||Spike Lee||Nominated—Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay (2002)|
|When the Nines Roll Over||Yes||Yes||Himself||Short film based on a story from When the Nines Roll Over|
|2007||The Kite Runner||Yes||No||Marc Forster||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||No||Gavin Hood||Co-wrote with Skip Woods|
|2019||Gemini Man||Yes||No||Ang Lee||Co-wrote with Billy Ray and Darren Lemke|
|TBA||Lovecraft||No||Yes||TBA||Co-produce with D.B. Weiss|
|2011–2019||Game of Thrones||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-creator|
Directed and wrote episode: "Walk of Punishment"
Directed and wrote episode (with D. B. Weiss):"The Iron Throne"
Wrote: 45 episodes
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (2012)
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2013-2014)
Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2015)
Golden Nymph Awards for Outstanding International Producer (2012)
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2011-2014, 2016, 2018)
Nominated—BAFTA for Best International Programme (2013)
Nominated—Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2015, 2017)
Nominated—USC Scripter Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2016-2017)
Nominated—Humanitas Prize for 60 Minute Network or Syndicated Television (2017)
|2013||It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Yes||No||No||Wrote episode: "Flowers for Charlie"|
Bored Lifeguard #1 (cameo in "The Gang Goes to a Water Park")
|2020||Leslie Jones: Time Machine||No||No||Yes||Co-direct with D.B. Weiss|
Awards and nominations
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- "Amanda Peet Gives Birth to Baby Boy, Welcomes Third Child With David Benioff Friedman: See His Name!". US Weekly. December 7, 2014.
- Kamin, Debra (May 20, 2014). "The Jewish legacy behind 'Game of Thrones'". The Times of Israel. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- Bloom, Nate (February 2, 2012). "Jewish Stars: genealogy and fairy tales". Cleveland Jewish News.
- "Deaths: Benioff, Florence". The New York Times. August 28, 2000. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- Bort, Julie (April 12, 2015). "How these famous Benioffs are related". Business Insider. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- cityfile. "Stephen Friedman". gawker.com. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- "The Surprising Connection Between Game of Thrones and Monty Python". Vanity Fair. March 24, 2014.
- "Novelist and Hollywood Personality David Benioff: He's a Former English Teacher". Chalkboard Champions. December 18, 2013.
- Ellis, James (October 27, 2009). "David Benioff". Metro.
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- Katie Kilkenny (May 12, 2011). "Benioff '92 embraces storytelling in 'surreal' career". The Dartmouth. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
- "America's Top 50 Bachelors". People.
- Alden, William (March 19, 2014). "Former Goldman Chief Walks Among Warriors and Dragons". DealBook.
- "US Copyright Office: "A game of thrones / by David Benioff Friedman". US Copyright Office. July 30, 2020.
- Jalon, Allan M. (May 13, 2001). "How to Write a Powerful First Novel in a Bland Age". Los Angeles Times.
- Gottlieb, Jeff (December 2, 2002). "His Finest Hour". Los Angeles Times.
- "Crowning achievement". UCI News. August 12, 2014.
- Benioff, David (May 3, 2003). "One more hour". The Guardian.
- "Q: What do Brad Pitt, Spike Lee and the Iliad have in common? A: David Benioff, Hollywood's latest wonder kid". Herald Scotland. March 29, 2003.
- Stephenson, Anne (August 30, 2004). "Screenwriter's short stories shine". USA TODAY.
- "Novelist and Hollywood Personality David Benioff: He's a Former English Teacher". Chalkboard Champions. December 18, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- Mishler, James (June 2005). "David Benioff, Screenwriter of Wolverine: He's One of Us". Comics Buyer's Guide: 18–20.
- Daniel Robert Epstein (December 28, 2004). "David Benioff". SuicideGirls. Retrieved February 9, 2008.
- Vaughan, Owen (April 29, 2009). "Chris Claremont, Len Wein: the men who created Wolverine". The Times. UK. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
- "Interview – Hugh Jackman". CanMag. October 15, 2006. Retrieved October 15, 2006.
- Stax (September 28, 2007). "New Wolverine Screenwriter". IGN. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
- Mitchell, Elvis (May 8, 2013). "UpClose: Game of Thrones with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (FULL LENGTH)". KCRW. AVMedia. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
- Rosenberg, Adam (April 5, 2010). "Kurt Cobain Biopic 'In The Works,' 16 Years After His Death". MTV News. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- Fleming, Mike (April 10, 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' David Benioff & D.B. Weiss Plan 'Dirty White Boys' As First Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- "The 2003 Pulitzer Prize Winners (Criticism)". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
- Hibberd, James (July 19, 2017). "Game of Thrones showrunners reveal their next epic HBO series". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Goldberg, Lesley (August 7, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' Creators Close $200M Netflix Overall Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- Brenican, Anthony (February 6, 2018). "Game of Thrones creators developing new Star Wars films". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
- Multiple sources:
- "Game of Thrones petition: 500,000 demand series eight remake". BBC News. May 16, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- McCarthy, Tyler (May 16, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' fans are petitioning HBO to remake the last season 'with competent writers'". Fox News. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- "'This was abysmal': Nearly 1 million disgruntled 'Game of Thrones' fans demand a final season remake". The Washington Post. May 17, 2019. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
- Fieldstadt, Elisha (May 16, 2019). "Nearly 800,000 'Game of Thrones' fans sign petition for remake of season 8". NBC News. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Jancelewicz, Chris (May 15, 2019). "More than 1 million upset 'Game of Thrones' fans sign petition to remake Season 8". Global News. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Staples, Louis. "Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Lost – why is it so hard for TV shows to pull off the perfect ending?". The Independent. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
- Roeper, Richard (May 19, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' finale review: Enthralling series comes to a satisfying end". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Munzenrieder, Kyle (August 8, 2019). "What Will David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Bring to Netflix For $200 Million?". W. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
- Statt, Nick (August 7, 2019). "Game of Thrones creators sign $200 million Netflix deal to make exclusive shows and films". The Verge. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
- Boucher, Geoff (October 29, 2019). "'Star Wars' Setback: 'Game Of Thrones' Duo David Benioff & D.B. Weiss Exit Trilogy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- "Game of Thrones creators Benioff and Weiss drop Star Wars movies for Netflix". The Guardian. October 29, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Byford, Sam (October 29, 2019). "Game of Thrones showrunners quit Star Wars trilogy to work on Netflix projects". The Verge. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Otterson, Joe (September 1, 2020). "'Three-Body Problem' Series From David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Alexander Woo Set at Netflix". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
- Hibberd, James (September 26, 2017). "'Game of Thrones season 8 directors revealed: Fan favorites return". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- Bucksbaum, Sydney (December 19, 2019). "'Leslie Jones gets a Game of Thrones-themed trailer for Netflix special Time Machine". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
- Messer, Lesley; Herbst, Diane (September 30, 2006). "Amanda Peet Weds Screenwriter Beau". People. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
- Saad, Nardine. "Amanda Peet, 'Game of Thrones' producer David Benioff welcome baby boy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- "2012 Hugo Award Winners". the hugoawards.org. World Science Fiction Society. September 2, 2012. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "2013 Hugo Award Winners". thehugoawards.com. World Science Fiction Society. September 1, 2013. Archived from the original on September 23, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "2014 Hugo Award Winners". thehugoawards.com. World Science Fiction Society. August 17, 2014. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "'Big Short' takes home top prize at Producers Guild of America awards". Fox News. January 24, 2016. Archived from the original on April 6, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- Leffler, Rebecca (June 14, 2012). "HBO's 'Game of Thrones,' 'Game Change' Win Top Prizes at Monte Carlo TV Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 18, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "PGA Announced Theatrical Motion Picture and Long-Form Television Nominations for 2012 PGA Awards". TVLine. January 3, 2012. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- Chitwood, Adam (November 28, 2012). "Homeland, Game of Thrones, Modern Family, and Louie Lead Television Nominations for 2013 Producers Guild Awards". Collider. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "TV Nominees For PGA Awards Unveiled". Deadline Hollywood. December 3, 2013. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "'American Sniper,' 'Birdman' & 'Boyhood' Among PGA Awards Nominees". Deadline Hollywood. January 5, 2015. Archived from the original on January 8, 2015. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- DeSantis, Rachel (January 5, 2017). "People v. O.J., Stranger Things score Producers Guild Award nominations". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 6, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- Dupre, Elyse (January 5, 2018). "2018 Producers Guild Award Nominations: The Full List of Film and TV Nominees". E! News. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
- "Television in 2013". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 2013. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "2015 Nominations". thehugoawards.org. World Science Fiction Society. April 4, 2015. Archived from the original on May 4, 2015. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- Gartenberg, Chaim (April 4, 2017). "Here are the 2017 Hugo Award nominees". The Verge. Archived from the original on April 5, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- THR Staff (January 7, 2016). "USC Scripter Awards Unveils Film Nominations, Expands into TV". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 14, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- McNary, Dave (January 11, 2017). "'Arrival,' 'Fences,' 'Game of Thrones' Earn USC Scripter Award Nominations". Variety. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- "'Game of Thrones,' 'Black-ish' Top Humanitas Prize Finalists". Variety. January 11, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
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