I got a message from my friend Jonah Nolan last week. Jonah is one of the creators and showrunners of HBO’s WESTWORLD, along with his wife Lisa Joy, and he told me to be sure to catch Sunday’s episode, there might be something that would amuse me.
Truth be told, I would have been watching in any case. WESTWORLD is a terrific show, and I’ve been watching it since the beginning. In any case, I was indeed watching, and I was indeed amused when we came on the cameo of The Three Ds: David Benioff, Dan Weiss, and Drogon. I thought it was a fun moment, and it made me smile.
Subsequently, of course, the internet has blown up over the cameo, as the internet is wont to do. Some people loved the cameo, some hated it, and everybody, it seems to me, is making way too much of it. Hey, folks, c’mon. It was just a bit of fun. A sort of Easter Egg. You all like Easter Eggs in your video games, don’t you? If you blinked, you could have missed it… kind of like the appearance of Yul Brynner’s “man in black” robot from the original WESTWORLD movie that appeared first season. I have been known to do that sort of thing myself. Sharp-eyed readers of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE long ago noticed the appearance of the Three Stooges in the first novel, and my subsequent mentions of how giants devoured Triarch Belicho and a knight wearing Dallas Cowboys heraldry. And if you missed those… as 98% of the readers did… that’s fine, they were just a tip o’ the hat. I also have houses named after the great fantasists Jack Vance, Roger Zelazny, and Robert Jordan, for what it’s worth. More tips o’ my hat. (I wear a lot of hats).
I’ve done my own cameos over the years as well. You can catch a glimpse of me (young, dark-haired me) in two different episodes of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. The first one you’d need to be blind to miss; the second one you’ll miss if you blink. More recently, I played a zombie version of myself in Z NATION (still signing books), and had my head bitten off by a shark in SHARKNADO 3 (though they cut all my lines, pfui). I also filmed a GAME OF THRONES cameo in the pilot, as a guest at Dany’s wedding to Khal Drogo. They gave me an enormous hat and really big balls, which might have been some sort of commentary.
But that was when Dany was being played by Tamzin Merchant. When we recast, the whole wedding had to be reshot and I wound up on the cutting room floor. A little later, I wanted to be a severed head on the walls of the Red Keep next to Ned Stark (and David & Dan, ideally), but our budget was not so robust first season, and those severed heads are damned expensive. I also campaigned to die horribly at the Red Wedding, which seemed only fair since I was responsible for it, but it was felt that my presence in that powerful, wrenching, bloody scene might have taken the viewers out of the moment. Fair enough. And not wrong.
One thing led to another and I never did appear in a cameo in GOT, but that’s cool. I’m a writer, not an actor… or even an extra. And standing around in costume for all those hours in Morocco while we filmed Dany & Drogo’s nuptials gave me a helluva backache. (Ian McNeice, our original Illyrio Mopatis, gave me some great advice afterwards: when filming a long sequence like a feast or a wedding, make sure you have a comfortable seat).
Had I been in Los Angeles at the time of the filming, I might well have been part of that WESTWORLD cameo as well. Jonah and Lisa have also stated that the whole thing was my idea.
Which is true. Kinda sorta. No, I had no idea this particular moment was coming until I caught it on HBO… but back during WESTWORLD’s season one, I did suggest to Jonah that, seeing as how the original WESTWORLD film featured a Medieval World, the TV version could easily have a Westeros World. I never wanted a full crossover, never thought that WESTWORLD’s hosts should adventure in Westeros World as they have in Samurai World and War World… but a brief scene or two could have been fun, and would have been in keeping with the Delos concept. And, hey, I even suggested that they could bring back actors from GOT, characters we had killed. The hosts die almost weekly, after all. The fans might have gotten a kick out of catching a brief glimpse of Richard Madden, Sibel Kekilli, Esme Bianco, Ron Donachie, or Mark Addy again… and I suspect the actors would have been game as well. But it was not to be.
Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy mentioned that I worked in television back in the 80s, when crossovers between shows were more common. That’s true. Philip DeGuere, the showrunner on TWILIGHT ZONE version 2, who gave me my first job in Hollywood, was also the creator of a show called SIMON & SIMON, and like to tell how his show was struggling in the ratings until they did a crossover with MAGNUM P.I., after which ratings for the Simon Boys went through the roof and he had a hit. We actually tried to do the same thing with TWILIGHT ZONE, and had several meetings with the writers and producers of MIKE HAMMER, the series that followed us on Friday nights. Now THAT would have been a crossover, Mike Hammer in the Twilight Zone, like some surreal meeting of Mickey Spillane and Rod Serling. Not only that, but Phil told me I could write the script, and I had just the story too… I wanted to buy the rights to Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” and adapt that. Alas, alack, we could never get around the insistence of the Mike Hammer guys that the whole thing end up being just a dream, so it never happened. A pity. That was a script I would have loved to write.
As for the WESTWORLD cameo… y’know, Robbie the Robot had a long career in film and television after FORBIDDEN PLANET. Why would we want to begrudge Drogon the same?
Current Mood: amused