Bloody seven hells! The season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones is less than a month away — and to tide our impatient bloodlust, there's Vanity Fair's just-released April cover, in which five of the show's sexiest principle players smolder for Annie Leibovitz. In a heady, tense gathering of Westeros rivals we've yet to actual witness onscreen, the foes chill out in costume on a rocky shoreline: Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Lena Headey (Cersi Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow).
Inside the mag, the show's creators explain the extra-tricky challenge of adapting George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books for the big screen; Martin has written five total books, but two additional books in the saga are planned. The new issue with the smash HBO series: They've nearly caught up to the action in the books, while Martin has no release date for books six or seven. "it's alarming," Martin himself admits to VF.
"Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with him [Martin] and just talk through where things are going, because we don't know if we are going to catch up and where exactly that would be," co-creator David Benioff says of the sprawling fantasy epic that takes place in the so-called "Seven Kingdoms" of Westeros and beyond, with scores of characters vying for ultimate control of the realm and the Iron Throne.
"If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character," Benioff says.
Explains Martin: "I can give them the broad strokes of what I intend to write, but the details aren’t there yet. I'm hopeful that I can not let them catch up with me."
Benioff and colleague D.B. Weiss tell the mag that they'd prefer to wrap up the show after seven or eight seasons. "It doesn't just keep on going because it can,," Weiss explains. "I think the desire to milk more out of it is what would eventually kill it, if we gave in to that."
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!