David Benioff

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David Benioff
David Benioff by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Benioff in 2016
Born David Friedman
(1970-09-25) September 25, 1970 (age 45)
New York City, New York
Alma mater Dartmouth College
The Collegiate School
Trinity College Dublin
University of California, Irvine
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter, television producer, director
Spouse(s) Amanda Peet (m. 2006)
Children 3
Parent(s) Stephen Friedman

David Benioff (born David Friedman; September 25, 1970) is an American novelist, screenwriter, television producer and director. He is the co-creator and showrunner of the widely acclaimed award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones.

Early life[edit]

Benioff was born David Friedman in New York City, to a Jewish family.[1] He is the son of Barbara (Benioff) and Stephen Friedman, who is a former head of Goldman Sachs.[2] He is a distant cousin of Marc Benioff.[3] As an adult, he changed his last name to Benioff, his mother's maiden name, to avoid confusion with other writers named David Friedman.[4] He is the youngest of three children. He 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 sixteen.[5]

He is an alumnus of The Collegiate School and of Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth College, he was a member of Phi Delta Alpha Fraternity and the Sphinx Senior Society. After graduating in 1992, he worked for a time as a club bouncer in San Francisco, became a high school English teacher at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York City for two years, and served as the school's wrestling coach.[5][6] 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, and while in Dublin he met D.B. Weiss, who would later become his collaborator.[1] He wrote a thesis on Samuel Beckett while at Trinity College, but decided against a career in academia after writing the thesis.[5] He worked as a radio DJ in Moose, Wyoming for a while.[7] He then attended the University of California Irvine, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing in 1999.[8]

Writing career[edit]

Benioff spent two years writing his first published novel The 25th Hour,[9][10] originally titled Fireman Down, and completed the book as his thesis for his master's degree at Irvine.[11][12] 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.[8] It was filmed as 25th Hour, starring Edward Norton and directed by Spike Lee.[7][12] He then wrote a collection of short stories titled When the Nines Roll Over (And Other Stories) in 2004.[13]

Benioff drafted a screenplay of the mythological epic Troy (2004) for which Warner Bros pictures paid him $2.5 million.[14] He also wrote the script for the psychological thriller Stay (2005), which was directed by Marc Forster and starred 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. He was hired in 2004 to write the screenplay for the X-Men spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and worked on the script for three years.

In 2006, Benioff became interested in adapting the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series by George R.R. Martin and began working with D.B. Weiss on a proposed television series Game of Thrones.[15] The pilot was put into development by HBO in 2007 and the series greenlit in 2010. They act as the executive producer, showrunner and writer 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.[5]

In 2008, his second novel, City of Thieves was published. He has been[when?] working on an adapted screenplay of the Charles R. Cross biography of Kurt Cobain but as of 2010 the screenplay has not been used.[16]

On April 10, 2014, Benioff announced he and D.B. Weiss had taken on their first feature film project to write, produce and direct Dirty White Boys, a novel by Pulitzer prize-winning author Stephen Hunter.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

On September 30, 2006, Benioff married actress Amanda Peet in New York City.[19] Together they have three children: Frances "Frankie"[20] Pen Friedman,[21] born February 20, 2007;[22] Molly June Friedman,[21] born in 2010; and Henry Peet[23] Friedman,[21] born December 6, 2014.[24] To avoid any confusion, Benioff's three children use the last name of Friedman,[23] which is his given last name—he uses his mother's maiden name as his professional name.[25] The family lives in Manhattan and Beverly Hills.


The 25th Hour

When the Nines Roll Over (and Other Stories)

City of Thieves


In development[edit]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2011 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series[26]
(shared with eight other producers and executive producers)
Game of Thrones Nominated
2011 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series[26]
(shared with D. B. Weiss)
Game of Thrones Nominated
2012 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation — Long Form[26]
(shared with eight other producers and executive producers)
Game of Thrones Won
2012 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series[26]
(shared with nine other producers and executive producers)
Game of Thrones Nominated
2012 PGA Award Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama[26]
(shared with Carolyn Strauss, Frank Doelger, D. B. Weiss, and Mark Huffam)
Game of Thrones Nominated
2012 WGA Award Best New Series[26]
(shared with Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, George R. R. Martin, and D. B. Weiss)
Game of Thrones Nominated
2012 SFX Award Best New Show[26][27]
(shared with cast and crew)
Game of Thrones Won
2012 SFX Award Best TV Show[26]
(shared with cast and crew)
Game of Thrones Nominated
2012 Monte-Carlo TV Festival Award Drama TV series: Outstanding International Producer[26][28][29]
(shared with D. B. Weiss, Frank Doelger, and Carolyn Strauss)
Game of Thrones Won
2013 PGA Award Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama[26]
(shared with Frank Doelger, Carolyn Strauss, Bernadette Caulfield, and D. B. Weiss)
Game of Thrones Nominated
2013 WGA Award Best Drama Series[26]
(shared with D. B. Weiss, George R. R. Martin, Bryan Cogman, and Vanessa Taylor)
Game of Thrones Nominated


  1. ^ a b Kamin, Debra (May 20, 2014). "The Jewish legacy behind 'Game of Thrones'". The Times of Israel. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Deaths: Benioff, Florence". The New York Times. August 28, 2000. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  3. ^ Bort, Julie (April 12, 2015). "How these famous Benioffs are related". Business Insider. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  4. ^ Alden, William (March 19, 2014). "Former Goldman Chief Walks Among Warriors and Dragons". DealBook. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "The Surprising Connection Between Game of Thrones and Monty Python". Vanity Fair. March 24, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Novelist and Hollywood Personality David Benioff: He's a Former English Teacher". Chalkboard Champions. December 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "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. 
  8. ^ a b Katie Kilkenny (May 12, 2011). "Benioff '92 embraces storytelling in 'surreal' career". The Dartmouth. 
  9. ^ Jalon, Allan M. (May 13, 2001). "How to Write a Powerful First Novel in a Bland Age". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Gottlieb, Jeff (December 2, 2002). "His Finest Hour". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ "Crowning achievement". UCI News. August 12, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Benioff, David (May 3, 2003). "One more hour". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ Stephenson, Anne (August 30, 2004). "Screenwriter's short stories shine". USA TODAY. 
  14. ^ "Novelist and Hollywood Personality David Benioff: He's a Former English Teacher". Chalkboard Champions. December 18, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  15. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (May 8, 2013). UpClose: Game of Thrones with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (FULL LENGTH). KCRW. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  16. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (April 5, 2010). "Kurt Cobain Biopic 'In The Works,' 16 Years After His Death". MTV News. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike (April 10, 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' David Benioff & D.B. Weiss Plan 'Dirty White Boys' As First Movie". Deadline. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  18. ^ "The 2003 Pulitzer Prize Winners (Criticism)". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Messer, Lesley; Herbst, Diane (September 30, 2006). "Amanda Peet Weds Screenwriter Beau". People.com. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  20. ^ http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20363398,00.html
  21. ^ a b c http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-amanda-peet-baby-boy-henry-david-benioff-20141208-story.html
  22. ^ "Amanda Peet Has a Girl". People Magazine. February 23, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007. 
  23. ^ a b http://www.celebritybabyscoop.com/2014/12/08/amanda-benioff-welcome
  24. ^ Catherine Bell, on Catherine Bell Introduces Son Ronan. "Amanda Peet Welcomes Daughter Molly June – Moms & Babies – Moms & Babies - People.com". Celebritybabies.people.com. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  25. ^ http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/187517/amanda-peet-david-benioff-expand-their-brood
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "D.B. Weiss: Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  27. ^ "SFX awards 2012: The Winners". SFX. February 4, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Golden Nymphs Awards Listing, 2012". Monte-Carlo Television Festival. June 14, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  29. ^ "HBO's Game of Thrones, Game Change Win Top Prizes at Monte Carlo TV Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. June 14, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 

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