Game of Thrones creators say Cillian Murphy's underrated sci-fi movie Sunshine was inspiration for their new Netflix show

John Bradley in 3 Body Problem
(Image credit: Netflix)

3 Body Problem, the new Netflix sci-fi series from showrunner Alexander Woo and the duo behind Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is pretty epic in its scope. The show, based on Chinese author Liu Cixin's series of novels, encompasses decades, continents, and virtual realities, as well as a hefty dose of physics.  

It's a far cry from the trio's previous experience (HBO's fantasy epic for Benioff and Weiss and shows like True Blood for Woo), so what were their points of reference? The showrunners watched Stanley Kubrick’s landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey "repeatedly", Benioff admits to Total Film in our new issue out this Friday, which features Road House on the cover.

But there were other influential sci-fi texts, too – including an underrated '00s film starring Oppenheimer's Cillian Murphy. "Danny Boyle did that movie Sunshine, which had moments of that awe-and-wonder feeling," Weiss adds. "It’s not just about a monster chasing you and you need to get away. It’s the feeling of wonder that comes with great science fiction." 

The movie, which was written by Annihilation helmer Alex Garland, also stars Chris Evans and Michelle Yeoh, and follows a team of astronauts in the near future who are sent to try and re-ignite the dying Sun with a nuclear bomb. 

He also cites Tarkovsky’s Solaris. "That’s, in many ways, very different from this, but in terms of the feeling it gives you internally… For me that was something I would sometimes be thinking about with this."

3 Body Problem, which features an ensemble cast including Benedict Wong, Eiza González, and Game of Thrones alum John Bradley, centers around a group of physicists faced with a mysterious countdown – and it's all linked, somehow, to the actions of their mentor, 60 years previously, in post-Cultural Revolution China. 

3 Body Problem is released 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 when it hits shelves and digital newsstands on Friday, March 1. This is one day later than usual, due to how the Leap Year falls. 

Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Road House covers

(Image credit: Prime Video/Amazon MGM Studios/Total Film)

Pre-order the issue here to bag your copy, or click here to subscribe to Total Film and never miss another exclusive. You’ll get every issue before it's in stores, and you’ll get subscriber-exclusive covers. 

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(Image credit: Universal/Warner Bros./Prime Video/Amazon MGM Studios/Focus Features)
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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