The first episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones was a remarkable piece of television that showed the world that it was actually possible to make a TV show out of George R.R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy epic. However, things didn’t always look as good as they did in the final product, as the show’s creators recently revealed a podcast called Scriptnotes that’s hosted by screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin.
One of the biggest problems with the original pilot episode is that it didn’t make clear that Cersei and Jamie Lannister were actually siblings. This was obviously an issue since the episode’s major revelation was that the pair are actually incestuous lovers.
Podcast host Craig Mazin was actually there to watch the original pilot and he gave the show’s creators a very blunt prognosis when he was finished: They had a “massive problem” and would need to “change everything.”
Show-runners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff took his advice and ended up re-shooting 90% of the pilot with a completely different actress playing Catelyn Stark. The result wasn’t perfect but it was still an incredible improvement from what had come before.
“I will never forget being invited to the premiere of the first season,” Mazin recalled on the podcast. “I went in just thinking (skeptically), ‘Well, I guess we’ll just see how this goes.’ I sat there and this show unfolds and I am stunned. Stunned. And I very specifically remember walking out and I said to [Weiss and Benioff], ‘That is the biggest rescue in Hollywood history.’ Because it wasn’t just that they had saved something bad and turned it really good. You had saved a complete piece of s— and turned it into something brilliant. That never happens!”