As if blessed with magic, David Benioff transformed an early career as a novelist into that of an extremely well-paid screenwriter of blockbuster films, before scoring a life-changing gig as one of the major creative figures behind the most popular TV show of all-time. Along with his fellow collaborator D. B. Weiss, he is best known as the co-creator, showrunner, and writer of "Game of Thrones," the HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin's series of books A Song of Ice and Fire. The program ran from 2011-2019 and is considered the farthest-reaching show in history, as it aired in more than 170 countries. During this time, he grabbed 16 Emmy nominations that resulted in 6 trophies for his work on the epic fantasy.
Before HBO, he published his first novel in 2001. Titled The 25th Hour, the story is a crime-drama about how one man spends his last night before starting a seven-year prison sentence. The book was well-received and he followed that up by releasing a short-story collection and his second novel. But his relationship with Hollywood began after he was asked to work closely with director Spike Lee on the cinematic adaptation of his debut novel. Partly due to this success, he became a much sought-after writer in Hollywood, where he penned the screenplays for films like "Troy," "The Kite Runner," and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." The success of his projects has made him a darling of the industry, and he is currently working on an upcoming project for Netflix.
Despite all the acclaim for his work as a screenwriter and novelist, he didn't receive much praise during his early days at Dartmouth College. As a student, he wanted to take the English department’s "Introduction to Creative Writing" course, which was taught by professor Ernest Hebert, the author of The Dogs of March, among other novels. However, he was rejected by Herbert the first three times he applied. Only on his fourth time did Herbert take pity on the budding scribe. “I don’t think my writing had gotten any better," he recalled. "Maybe he just admired my stubbornness."
However, he was clearly not without some natural talent. During his final year at Dartmouth. Hebert served as his advisor. Recalling the invaluable praise and advice he received: “It’s a really subjective business, so if someone you respect thinks you have talent, [it] means a lot." He was also a member of the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Sphinx Senior Society and graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Since leaving, his hectic schedule has made social visits to Dartmouth difficult, but in 2017, the writer put Hollywood on hold long enough to sit down with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. Among the numerous topics he covered, he gave the Dartmouth community a behind the curtains perspective on what it’s like to be responsible for the most-acclaimed TV show ever. Of particular interest to Game of Thrones fans, the writer defended his choice to not remain faithful to the source material (i.e., the books) if it meant a better script. “Once you make the decision to sell your novel and have it adapted, I think you understand that there are going to be compromises and there are going to be changes made,” he explained. “I’ve seen a lot of adaptations that run into trouble by being too faithful to the book, and they get kind of hamstrung by that."