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David Benioff
Benioff in 2016
David Friedman

(1970-09-25) September 25, 1970 (age 53)
EducationDartmouth College (BA)
Trinity College, Dublin
University of California, Irvine (MFA)
  • Screenwriter
  • producer
  • novelist
Years active2001–present
(m. 2006)
ParentStephen Friedman (father)

David Friedman (/ˈfrdmən/; born September 25, 1970), known professionally as David Benioff (/ˈbɛniɒf/),[1][2] is an American writer and producer. Along with his collaborator D. B. Weiss, he is best known for co-creating Game of Thrones (2011–2019), the HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin's series of books A Song of Ice and Fire.[3] He also wrote 25th Hour (2002), Troy (2004), City of Thieves (2008) and co-wrote X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

YouTube Encyclopedic

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Early life

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.[4][5] He is the son of Barbara (née Benioff) and Stephen Friedman, a former head of Goldman Sachs.[6] He has two older sisters, Suzy and Caroline,[7] 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.[8]

Benioff is an alumnus of Collegiate School and Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth he was a member of Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Sphinx Senior Society. After graduating in 1992 with a B.A in English Literature, he had 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 for two years, where he served as the school's wrestling coach.[8][9]

Benioff became interested in an academic career and went to Trinity College, Dublin (TCD), in 1995, for a one-year program to study Irish literature. In Dublin he met D. B. Weiss, who later became his collaborator.[4] Benioff wrote a thesis on Samuel Beckett at Trinity College, but decided against a career in academia.[8] He worked as a radio DJ in Moose, Wyoming, for a year—mostly as a side job that he accepted mainly to spend a year in the countryside at a writer's retreat.[10] He then applied to join the University of California, Irvine's creative writing program after reading The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (an alumnus there),[11] and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing there in 1999.[12]

In 2001, People magazine included Benioff on its list of America's Top 50 Most Eligible Bachelors.[13]

As an adult, he began using the pen name Jacqueline 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.[14][15] For legal purposes, his copyright filings from the 2010s onward list him as "David Benioff Friedman".[1]


Benioff spent two years writing his first published novel, The 25th Hour,[16][17] originally titled Fireman Down, and completed the book as his thesis for his master's degree at Irvine.[18][19] 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.[12] The film adaptation, 25th Hour, starring Edward Norton, was directed by Spike Lee.[19][20] In 2004 Benioff published a collection of short stories, When the Nines Roll Over (And Other Stories).[21]

He drafted a screenplay of the mythological epic Troy (2004), for which Warner Bros. pictures paid him $2.5 million.[22] He also wrote the script for the psychological thriller Stay (2005), directed by Marc Forster and starring 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 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,[23][24] as well as the 2001 limited series Origin.[25] Hugh Jackman collaborated on the script, which he wanted to be more of a character piece than the previous X-Men films.[26] Fox later hired Skip Woods to revise and rewrite Benioff's script.[27] Benioff had aimed for a "darker and a bit more brutal" story, writing it with an R rating in mind, but acknowledged the film's final tone would rest with the producers and director.[23]

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.[28] 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 show's executive producers, showrunners, and writers. It 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.[8] They also directed three episodes of Game of Thrones, flipping a coin 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".[8] They co-directed the series finale, "The Iron Throne".[29]

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.[30]

In 2008, Benioff's second novel, City of Thieves, was published.[31][32]

In April 2014, Benioff announced he and Weiss had taken on their first feature film project to write, produce, and direct Dirty White Boys, based on a novel by Stephen Hunter.[33][34] 21st Century Fox greenlit pre-production on the movie even though at the time, both producers had significant contractual obligations for other projects. Though it was assumed development on Dirty White Boys would proceed slowly, promotion for the film not only began slow but stopped altogether. According to Kasey Moore, it has been years since anyone once known to be involved with Dirty White Boys, has given an update on the project's status.[35]

In July 2017, Benioff announced that he and Weiss would produce another HBO series, 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."[36] The announcement of Confederate met with public animosity and as of August 2019 (when Benioff's and Weiss's deal with Netflix was announced) is not moving forward.[37]

In February 2018, Disney announced that Benioff and Weiss would write and produce a new series of Star Wars films after the final season of Game of Thrones ended in 2019.[38]

Towards the end of the final season of Game of Thrones, a petition to HBO was started on It called Benioff and Weiss "woefully incompetent writers" and demanded "competent writers" to remake the eighth season of Game of Thrones in a manner "that makes sense".[39] The petition eventually amassed over 1.5 million signatures.[40] In the Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper wrote that the backlash to the eighth season was so great that he doubted he had "ever seen the level of fan (and to a lesser degree, critical) vitriol leveled at" Game of Thrones.[41]

In early August 2019, Benioff and Weiss negotiated an exclusive multi-year film and television deal with Netflix worth $200 million.[42][43] Due to their commitments to Netflix, Benioff and Weiss exited their contract to produce Star Wars films for Disney and Lucasfilm.[44][45][46]

Benioff's and Weiss's first project on Netflix was to direct the stand-up comedy special Leslie Jones: Time Machine.[47]

In September 2020, it was announced that Benioff, Weiss and Alexander Woo will write and executive produce a Netflix series based on The Three-Body Problem trilogy.[48]

Personal life

On September 30, 2006, Benioff married actress Amanda Peet in a traditional Jewish ceremony in New York City.[49][4] They have three children.[50] The family divides their time between homes in Manhattan and Beverly Hills. He is a second cousin of software entrepreneur Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.


Title Year Type Note
The 25th Hour 2001 Novel Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Plume; Reissue edition (January 29, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN 0-452-28295-0
When the Nines Roll Over (and Other Stories) 2004 Short story collection Hardcover: 223 pages
Publisher: Viking Books (August 19, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN 0-670-03339-1
City of Thieves 2008 Novel Hardcover: 281 pages
Publisher: Viking Books (May 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN 0-670-01870-8



Year Title Writer Producer Director Notes
2002 25th Hour Yes No Spike Lee Nominated— Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay
2004 Troy Yes No Wolfgang Petersen
2005 Stay Yes No Marc Forster
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
Nominated— Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Nominated— BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated— Satellite Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine Yes No Gavin Hood
Brothers Yes No Jim Sheridan
2019 Gemini Man Yes No Ang Lee
2022 Metal Lords No Yes Peter Sollett


Year Title Director Writer Executive Producer Notes
2011–2019 Game of Thrones Yes Yes Yes Co-creator
Directed and wrote episodes "Walk of Punishment" and "The Iron Throne"
Wrote 45 episodes
2013–2017 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia No Yes No Wrote episode "Flowers for Charlie"
Cameo as "Bored Lifeguard #1" (In episode "The Gang Goes to a Water Park")
2020 Leslie Jones: Time Machine Yes No No TV special;
Co-directed with D.B. Weiss
2021 The Chair No No Yes
2024 3 Body Problem No Yes Yes Co-creator
Wrote 4 episodes
TBA The Overstory No Yes No
TBA Death by Lightning No No Yes

Awards and nominations

Primetime Emmy Award

Year Category Recipient Result
2011 Outstanding Drama Series Game of Thrones Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
2012 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
2013 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
2014 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
2015 Outstanding Drama Series Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Won
2016 Outstanding Drama Series Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Won
2018 Outstanding Drama Series Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
2019 Outstanding Drama Series Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated

Writers Guild of America Awards

Year Category Recipient Result
2012 Drama Series Game of Thrones Nominated
New Series Nominated
2013 Drama Series Nominated
2015 Drama Series Nominated
2016 Drama Series Nominated
Episodic Drama Nominated
2017 Drama Series Nominated
Episodic Drama Nominated
2018 Drama Series Nominated

Other awards

Year Title Award/Nomination
2011–2019 Game of Thrones Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (2012)[51]
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2013–2014)[52][53]
Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2015)[54]
Golden Nymph Awards for Outstanding International Producer (2012)[55]
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2011–2014, 2016, 2018)[56][57][58][59][60][61]
Nominated—BAFTA for Best International Programme (2013)[62]
Nominated—Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (2015, 2017)[63][64]
Nominated—USC Scripter Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2016–2017)[65][66]
Nominated—Humanitas Prize for 60 Minute Network or Syndicated Television (2017)[67]

See also


  1. ^ a b "US Copyright Office: "A game of thrones / by David Benioff Friedman". US Copyright Office. July 30, 2020.
  2. ^ "Amanda Peet Gives Birth to Baby Boy, Welcomes Third Child With David Benioff Friedman: See His Name!". US Weekly. December 7, 2014.
  3. ^ "'Game of Thrones' finale review: Enthralling series comes to a satisfying end". May 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Kamin, Debra (May 20, 2014). "The Jewish legacy behind 'Game of Thrones'". The Times of Israel. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  5. ^ Bloom, Nate (February 2, 2012). "Jewish Stars: genealogy and fairy tales". Cleveland Jewish News.
  6. ^ "Deaths: Benioff, Florence". The New York Times. August 28, 2000. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  7. ^ cityfile (February 3, 2008). "Stephen Friedman". Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e "The Surprising Connection Between Game of Thrones and Monty Python". Vanity Fair. March 24, 2014.
  9. ^ "Novelist and Hollywood Personality David Benioff: He's a Former English Teacher". Chalkboard Champions. December 18, 2013.
  10. ^ Ellis, James (October 27, 2009). "David Benioff". Metro.
  11. ^ Gottlieb, Jeff (September 2, 2002). "Program Gives Writers a Professional Polish". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 30, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  12. ^ a b 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.
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  15. ^ Alden, William (March 19, 2014). "Former Goldman Chief Walks Among Warriors and Dragons". DealBook.
  16. ^ Jalon, Allan M. (May 13, 2001). "How to Write a Powerful First Novel in a Bland Age". Los Angeles Times.
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  18. ^ "Crowning achievement". UCI News. August 12, 2014.
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External links

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