Brian Helgeland on Game of Thrones spin-off: Chances of failing are greater

Brian Helgeland

Game of Thrones spin-offs will bring varied stories from the fictional land of Westeros from a different point of view with no one from the original cast expected to make an appearance. Oscar-winning screenwriter-filmmaker Brian Helgeland’s version will narrate a tale from a different period of time, and he says there is immense pressure to make it right and good.
The Game of Thrones series, which brings the story from George R.R. Martin’s novels about the quest to claim the Iron Throne, has become a global phenomenon. As the series nears it ends, HBO announced the expansion of the universe with five different spin-offs. Helgeland is attached to one such project.
Without divulging much about the project, Helgeland said there are “a lot of ways to go wrong and only a few ways to get it right”.
“The show is very loved all around the world by everybody. Martin has created a world which everyone feels is real. They love to watch the characters, they feel they are very much alive and that is such an amazing thing to have been done. The chances of failing are much greater than the chances of succeeding,” Helgeland told IANS in an interview over phone from Los Angeles.
“I do not think that it will fail. It will succeed, but it is a new version of it. Making it is very difficult. So, there is a lot of pressure on us to make it right and make it good.”
Helgeland, known for Mystic River, L.A. Confidential, A Knight’s Tale, The Taking of Pelham 123, Robin Hood, 42 and Legend — all of which will air in India on Sony Le PLEX HD in the first week of May, said the audience expectation is going to be enormous.
So, how does he plan to take the story forward?
“I can only speak for my own. But I think the intention is to stay geographically in that world but to tell a completely different story from a different point of view. So it is still Westeros.”
Prodded further, he teased, “It might be a story which happened hundreds of years before the story that people are watching now, or could even be a story that happened 100 years after the story that they are watching now.
“It is a different time period. It is still the same geography, but it is a different set of people,” added Helgeland, famous for creating some the most defining crime fiction in the US.
Game of Thrones has become a global phenomenon with its whimsical world of dragons and White Walkers on one hand, and a touch of reality with the complexity of emotions, relationships and how they cannot be trusted when it comes to ruling a kingdom.
The show brought worldwide acclaim to actors like Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iwan Rheon and Iain Glen.
Asked whether one can expect some of them to make a cameo in the spin-off, Helgeland laughed and said: “I don’t believe so. I think it will be all new. I am speaking of my own.”
Looking at Martin’s repertoire of work, Helgeland is fascinated by him.
“I always tell him that he is in a wrong century. He should have been living in the 19th century at the time of Charles Dickens. He doesn’t seem like a person from 21st century. He has done amazing things and created a world that is made up, but you feel it is completely real.
“It is great responsibility to try to honour all that”.
Apart from the spin-off, Helgeland is also working on the thriller Finest Kind, which features Jake Gyllenhaal, Ansel Elgort and Zendaya.