David Benioff (//; born David Friedman //; September 25, 1970) is an American screenwriter, television producer and writer, and novelist. He is the co-creator and showrunner of the widely acclaimed award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones.
Benioff in 2016
September 25, 1970
New York City, New York, U.S.
The Collegiate School
Trinity College Dublin
University of California, Irvine
|Occupation||Screenwriter, television producer, television writer, novelist|
|Spouse(s)||Amanda Peet (m. 2006)|
Benioff was born David Friedman in New York City, to a Jewish family with roots in Romania, Austria, Poland and Russia. He is the son of Barbara (Benioff) and Stephen Friedman, who is a former head of Goldman Sachs. He is a distant cousin of Marc Benioff. As an adult, he uses the last name of Benioff, his mother's maiden name, to avoid confusion with other writers named David Friedman. He is the youngest of three children (Suzy, Caroline, and David). 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.
He is an alumnus of The Collegiate School and of Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth he was a member of Phi Delta Alpha Fraternity and the Sphinx Senior Society. After he graduated in 1992, he worked in a number of jobs; for a time as a club bouncer in San Francisco, and he 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. 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. He 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 as 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.
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. It was filmed as 25th Hour, starring Edward Norton and directed by Spike Lee. He then wrote a collection of short stories titled When the Nines Roll Over (And Other Stories) in 2004.
Benioff 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 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). In preparing to write the script, he reread Barry Windsor-Smith's "Weapon X" story, as well as Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 limited series on the character (his favorite storyline). Also serving as inspiration was the 2001 limited series Origin, which reveals Wolverine's life before Weapon X. 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 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. The pilot was put into development by HBO in 2007 and the series greenlit in 2010. They act 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 2008, his second novel, City of Thieves was published. He has been hired by Universal Pictures in October 2007 to write an adapted screenplay of the Charles R. Cross biography of Kurt Cobain but the screenplay was not used.
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. On July 19, 2017, Benioff announced that he and Weiss are going to begin production on 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."
Benioff and D.B. 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 episode 3 of the third season, "Walk of Punishment", while Weiss was credited with "Two Swords", the first episode of season 4. Benioff and Weiss will direct the series finale of Game of Thrones.
On September 30, 2006, Benioff married actress Amanda Peet in New York City. Together they have three children: Frances "Frankie" Pen Friedman, born February 20, 2007; Molly June Friedman, born in 2010; and Henry Peet Friedman, born December 6, 2014. The family lives in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, California.
|The 25th Hour||2001||Novel||Paperback: 224 pages|
Publisher: Plume; Reissue edition (January 29, 2002)
|When the Nines Roll Over (and Other Stories)||2004||Novel||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||Nominated—Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay (2002)|
|When the Nines Roll Over||Yes||Yes||Yes||Short film|
|2007||The Kite Runner||Yes||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||Wrote with Skip Woods|
|2019||Gemini Man||Yes||Wrote with Brian Helgeland and Andrew Niccol|
|2011–present||Game of Thrones||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-creator|
Directed and wrote episode:"Walk of Punishment"
Wrote: 45 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2015-2016)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (2015-2016)
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—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2011-2014)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (2011-2014)
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2011-2014, 2016, 2018)
Nominated—BAFTA for Best International Programme (2013)
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Dramatic Series (2011-2012, 2014-2016, 2018)
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama (2015-2016)
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for New Series (2011)
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)
|2013–2017||It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Yes||Wrote episode: "Flowers for Charlie"|
Bored Lifeguard #1 (cameo in "The Gang Goes to a Water Park")
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