On set with 3 Body Problem. Six crew members stand against a cotton candy-colored sky.


Showrunners David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo bring together an award-winning crafts team for their mind-bending series.

Additional reporting by Keely Flaherty
Photography by Ed Miller
3 April 20246 min read

When the world learns that an alien species will invade Earth in four hundred years’ time, in the thrilling series 3 Body Problem, civilization is forever changed. From Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and True Blood’s Alexander Woo, the series explore the international politics, societal shifts, and massive military preparations that news of the invasion precipitates. 

Adapted from the Hugo Award-winning sci-fi trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Liu Cixin, 3 Body Problem follows a tight-knit group of scientist friends embroiled in a mystery. As people around them die unusual deaths and the universe begins acting contrary to the laws of science, they realize that the only logical explanation is otherworldly. 

With its high-concept science and thought-provoking premise, 3 Body Problem’s expansive story engages talents from across film and television in a transportive and electrifying series. “Just the act of making [the show] was a Herculean task,” says Woo; the dreamed-up landscapes and world-building sets required the show’s creators to call on some of the best technicians in the field, including many who’d worked with Weiss and Benioff on their Emmy-winning fantasy series Game of Thrones. “We have a shorthand with our returning Thrones friends,” Weiss says. “It’s been a good balance of the old and the new.” 

The “old” included Emmy-winning production designer Deborah Riley, who spent countless hours researching and creating everything from Shang Dynasty pyramids to period-authentic Chinese work camps, and Emmy-winning V.F.X. producer Steve Kullback, who transformed green and blue screens and cutting-edge lighting setups into a range of landscapes. “This show is the equivalent of four movies’ worth of V.F.X. work, but Steve doesn’t have four movies’ worth of time to get it done,” says Benioff. “It’s always a little bit of a race against time — not unlike the characters in our show.”

Alexander Woo, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss sit together and collaborate.

Alexander Woo, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss

The new? Oscar-nominated costume designer Michael Wilkinson (American Hustle, Andor) joins the team, outfitting characters from modern-day London to the series’ virtual reality sphere, which encompasses ancient Mongolian warriors and Tudor-era aristocracy. “This is one of the biggest research projects I’ve done. We have the different worlds that are covered by the [V.R.] game, where we immerse ourselves in different historical periods,” he explains. 

The showrunners also brought on Academy Award-nominated Hong Kong director Derek Tsang (Better Days) to helm the first two episodes, which take a step back to Cultural-Revolution-era China to explore the past of pivotal character Ye Wenjie (Rosalind Chao). “So much of the story depends upon what happens in the 60s and into the 70s in China,” says Benioff. “Derek did such an incredible job with everything he directed, [especially] in making the audience care about Ye Wenjie and understand her journey.” 

Tsang was excited to tell Wenjie’s backstory, which, once again, meant diving into research. “I grew up hearing stories about people who went through the Cultural Revolution, and I’ve always wanted to make a film or tell a story about people in that time period,” says Tsang. “I found as many books and films as I could, but I think what helped me the most was talking to people who actually lived through it. People would not only tell you their story, but also very minute details about how people behaved in the era. It’s been a very exhaustive, but very rewarding, research process.”