Fans have been anticipating and lamenting the forthcoming and final season of Game of Thrones

While expectations are high for how the iconic series will conclude, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss shared in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly that they’ve known the ending for “at least five years.”

When asked how long they’ve known the broad strokes of the final season’s storyline, Benioff responded, “I remember the two of us talking in Season 3." Weiss clarified, “We’ve known the major beats for at least five years.”

A concern during the beginning of the show was that George R.R. Martin’s books would ruin the whole plot for people. Since Thrones is several seasons past the A Song of Ice and Fire roadmap and will wrap a saga that still has two forthcoming books from Martin, the opposite could now come to pass. “One thing we’ve talked to George about is that we’re not going to tell people what the differences are, so when those books come out people can experience them fresh,” Benioff said.

Weiss also concedes that even though the show has pulled out ahead of the books, recent seasons have become so different from the book that “people will have no way knowing from watching what will or won’t appear in the books. And honestly, neither do we.”

When cast members discovered how their characters’ stories would finish, Weiss mysteriously said individuals “seemed to get the dramatic necessity behind it.”

"To their credit, they put their money where their mouths are — literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills which don’t exist anymore," Weiss said regarding previous comments that they had considered doing the final season as movies. "They said, ‘We’ll give you the resources to make this what it needs to be, and if what it needs to be is a summer tentpole-size spectacle in places, then that’s what it will be.'"

"HBO would have been happy for the show to keep going, to have more episodes in the final season," Benioff said. "We always believed it was about 73 hours, and it will be roughly that. As much as they wanted more, they understood that this is where the story ends."

The showrunners wouldn’t reveal too much about Season 8's plotline, other than the fact that “Jon and Dany are obviously together-together now. We didn’t have much time, or any time, to explore that relationship as a real relationship in the seventh season. … Now there’s a new kind of relationship between them. And here they’re together from the beginning,” according to Weiss.

When discussing the long-teased mega-battle coming up, Weiss said that length-wise, “I actually can’t think of anything that even comes close. There was the Takashi Miike movie 13 Assassins that did a pretty awesome 40 minutes. That would be the closest I can think of.”

On Monday, Martin expressed that it’s too soon for the series to wrap up. “I don't think it should be the final season,” Martin said. “But here we are. ... I know it's an end, but it's not much of an end for me. I'm still deep in writing the books.”

Game of Thrones returns Sunday, April 14. Also emerging in the flurry of news this week, Kit Harington visited Seth Meyers on Monday and intimated that footage of his tear-jerking reaction to the series' conclusion—which Harington first encountered at a table read with the cast—could definitely appear in HBO’s two-hour making-of documentary.