David Benioff is married to actress Amanda Peet, who is starring in the 8-part television series Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story. The true-crime series debuts June 2 at 9 p.m. on USA with back-to-back episodes. The following episodes will continue to air Tuesday nights at 9.
Broderick was convicted for the 1989 murders of her ex-husband, Daniel Broderick III, and his second wife, Linda Kolkena, and was sentenced to at least 32 years in prison. Ahead of the premiere, Peet admitted to Page Six that she could understand Betty Broderick’s anger. “I’m a very jealous person too and she was really unfairly treated during the court proceedings and I can understand… I mean, I haven’t snapped myself but I’m very fascinated by what makes someone snap.”
Peet explained to Variety that her husband, who is best known as the co-creator and showrunner of HBO’s Game of Thrones, took on more of the responsibilities at home while she was filming The Betty Broderick Story. “Luckily, I have a very supportive husband, unlike Betty Broderick. He became a very full-on parent during this period of time. Since he had just come off nine years on Game of Thrones, I think we both felt it was my turn!”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Benioff Uses His Mother’s Maiden Name Professionally But He & Peet’s Children Have His Birth Name
Benioff and Peet have been a couple since the early 2000s. They dated for three years before Benioff popped the question in 2005. They got married in September 2006 in New York City. The ceremony took place at the Quaker Friends Seminary school, where Peet is an alum.
Peet was about four months pregnant when she and Benioff tied the knot, a spokesperson for Peet confirmed to People magazine. Their oldest daughter, Frances Penn, arrived in February 2007. A second daughter named Molly June followed three years later. Benioff and Peet’s third child, a son named Henry Peet Friedman, was born in December 2014.
Benioff has often acknowledged Peet in award acceptance speeches. At the 2016 Emmy Awards, Benioff addressed Peet about their 10-year wedding anniversary as he accepted the Outstanding Drama Series award. “Amanda Peet, it’s our 10th anniversary in a week. Ten years of non-stop fun. I love you so much.”
The children’s last name is Friedman because that was Benioff’s last name at birth. He uses his mother’s maiden name professionally. Benioff’s father, Stephen Friedman, told the New York Times in 2014 that his son decided to use a different last name as an adult in order to avoid confusion, explaining “he didn’t want to be known as the 50th David Friedman in Hollywood.”
2. Benioff Has Said He Doesn’t Know Why George R.R. Martin Entrusted Him & D.B. Weiss With Game of Thrones
Benioff and his Game of Thrones co-writer, D.B. Weiss, opened up about the criticism the final season garnered during an appearance at the Austin Film Festival in October 2019. During the panel discussion, Benioff admitted that he had never understood why George R.R. Martin had “trusted us with his life’s work” because he and Weiss had never written for television before.
Weiss also described working on the show as an “expensive film school” and “huge learning experience.” The duo acknowledged they struggled to understand all of the characters and that the pilot had been filled with mistakes. For example, Benioff and Weiss initially created 39-minute episodes but HBO asked them to make the episodes longer. It was only after going back to the drawing board that the writers realized they hadn’t included any scenes of married couple Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister together in the entire first season.
Benioff and Weiss said they wrote nearly all of the episodes together but did not include any other professional writers. They explained at the Austin Film Festival this was simply because they “didn’t know better.” They also chose to leave out many of the fantasy elements described in the book in an attempt to broaden the show’s appeal to audience members who typically would not seek out fantasy shows.
3. Benioff’s Father Is the Former Head of Goldman Sachs But Benioff Began His Career as a Teacher Rather Than Enter the Financial Sector
Benioff was born in August 1970 and grew up in New York City. His father, Stephen Friedman, is the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, where he worked for nearly 30 years. Friedman served under President George W. Bush as the chairman of the Intelligence Advisory Board and as an assistant to the president on economic policy. Friedman’s resume also includes a stint as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
But Benioff decided against following in his father’s footsteps with a career on Wall Street. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1992 and began his career as a high school English teacher at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York. He was also the school’s wrestling coach.
Benioff returned to school in 1995. He studied Irish literature at Trinity College Dublin, which is where he met his future Game of Thrones co-writer D.B. Weiss. Benioff went on to earn a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine in 1999.
4. Benioff’s Debut Novel Was Adapted Into a Movie, For Which He Also Wrote the Screenplay
Benioff became a published author while he was still an undergraduate student. His debut novel, “The 25th Hour,” was released in 2001. The book follows the story of a convicted drug dealer on the final night before he is scheduled to begin a multi-year prison sentence.
Benioff explained to the Guardian in 2003 that he was thrilled to have the chance to write the screenplay because he wasn’t comfortable relinquishing that control over his work. “I did not want some Malibu surfer inventing dialogue for my New Yorkers. I didn’t want to see my baby abused by one of those guys in black-framed glasses who spends his afternoons at Starbucks, drinking lattes and typing treatments.” Benioff also explained that it’s important for a writer to be willing to shift away from the book narrative. “If the choice ever boiled down to keeping faith with the novel or doing what was best for the script, I chose the latter.”
Benioff published “When the Nines Roll Over: And Other Stories” in 2005 and “City of Thieves: A Novel” in 2008. During a 2010 interview, Benioff discussed the difference between writing a screenplay versus a novel. He described screenwriting as more “fun” and that it’s a collaboration with many different people. He said writing a novel can be “torture” but that he enjoys greater satisfaction from a completed book because the end product is entirely his own.
5. Benioff Wrote the Screenplays For Troy,The Kite Runner & X-Men Origins: Wolverine
After writing the screenplay for The 25th Hour, Benioff expanded his reach in Hollywood. He wrote the screenplay for the blockbuster epic Troy starring Brad Bitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom. Benioff did not include the fantasy elements present in “The Iliad,” such as the characters’ interactions with the gods.
Benioff explained to the Los Angeles Times this was done intentionally to keep the focus of the movie on Achilles and Hector. “I just proposed this really ruthless stripping down of the story to the core, which for me was always Hector and Achilles and their inevitable conflict. You know one of them is going to die, and you’re not sure which, and you’re also not rooting for either one.” According to Chalkboard Champions, Benioff earned $2.5 million for Troy.
Benioff’s other screenplays include X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Stay, The Kite Runner and Brothers. Game of Thrones was his first venture into television. His only other television writing credit was for an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 2013.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Benioff’s personal wealth is an estimated $50 million.