Game of Thrones showrunners were just as baffled by adapting their new Netflix sci-fi series as they were George R.R. Martin's books

3 Body Problem on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Years after Game of Thrones came to an end, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are back with another hugely ambitious adaptation of a famous series: 3 Body Problem, based on the novels by Liu Cixin. 

Similarly to Game of Thrones, the source material is dense – which made a screen adaptation a challenge. 

"It was not immediately obvious how [the books] could be turned into a TV show," Benioff admits to Total Film in our new issue out now. "But we knew that it was different from anything else we'd encountered. Part of the attraction was like, 'How the hell do we do this?' It was similar when we read [Thrones author] George R.R. Martin's books for the first time, just thinking, 'These books are incredible. But is it possible to do this as a TV series? Is it too big, too sprawling, too expensive?'"

Joining Weiss and Benioff in this creative hive was Alexander Woo, a former writer-producer on True Blood who acts as co-showrunner on the series. Adapting Liu's physics-heavy trilogy – which begins with book one, The Three-Body Problem – was always going to be tough, he acknowledges. "One of the things that makes it so challenging is that the timelines of the trilogy are pretty crazy. All three do start in the rough present day. And [the] second, third books certainly go far, far, far into the future. So for our show, it made a lot of sense to have characters who are contemporaneous with each other all be there in season 1, because they all exist in the same time period."

3 Body Problem arrives on Netflix on March 21. And you can read more about it and a whole lot else besides in the new issue of Total Film which is out on shelves and digital newsstands now.

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Freelance writer

James Mottram is a freelance film journalist, author of books that dive deep into films like Die Hard and Tenet, and a regular guest on the Total Film podcast. You'll find his writings on GamesRadar+ and Total Film, and in newspapers and magazines from across the world like The Times, The Independent, The i, Metro, The National, Marie Claire, and MindFood. 

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