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'Game of Thrones' Writer Vanessa Taylor Talks Streep Drama 'Hope Springs'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 8, 2012 at 12:14PM

Vanessa Taylor is enough of a TV whiz--her writing credits include "Alias," "Everwood" and "Tell Me You Love Me"--to land a co-executive producer spot on Seasons Two and Three of "Game of Thrones." But that was after she went off on her own, trying to combat writer's block, to write an original spec screenplay, "Hope Springs."
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) in 'Game of Thrones'
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) in 'Game of Thrones'

When she read the pilot for "Game of Thrones," she told her agent she wanted to write on the show. "Hope Springs" landed her manager Casady, who happens to represent GOT's David Benioff, so she met with the executive producers for the first season, who said they were full up but would add her for Season Two. "Sure enough they did," says Taylor. "I was the only woman, there are only four to five of us."

She says that "Game of Thrones" is not the usual writing room, as Benioff and D.B. Weiss write most of the ten scripts per season. She got to write two, and is now in the middle of Season Three. They all worked on the outline for Season Three during Season Two, and then got their assignments. While some people are drawn to certain characters, she writes an entire show, everything: "You're supposed to be able to cover it all. It's so crazy, breaking the story on note cards, into colors of stories. We thought it was six storylines, then seven, then nine."

Taylor felt comfortable in the world from the start, but she wasn't sure she could pull it off. "It was 50/50. But I love it. It is challenging. adapting the book. The TV series has a different tone, you flesh things out and expand the world. A lot of scenes go different ways, you're locating what's most interesting. It's about clarity and streamlining."

The toughest nut to crack, more than other shows: "transitions between the storylines, and bordering the episode." She reordered her first script ten times. "You're concerned with clarity, but you don't want to hit audiences over the head." When they get to books four and five, which eliminate certain popular GOT characters for the entire books, she figures they will probably divide the storylines differently, putting four and five together.

This August she returns to the set in Belfast, Northern Ireland to shoot Season Three.


This article is related to: Stuck In Love, Television, TV Features, TV Interviews, TV, Meryl Streep, Meryl Streep

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.