Esquire interviews Winter about when he began to create the Boardwalk Empire series.
It was 2007 and I was given the book by HBO. We were looking for something to do after The Sopranos, which I was just finishing up. They handed me the book, said they had it under option, and wanted to see if I thought there was a TV series in it. Then, almost as an afterthought, they said, “By the way, Martin Scorsese is attached to it.” I said, “Okay. I don’t even have to read it. Yes, there’s a TV series in it and I’m going to figure it out” The book itself is essentially a history of Atlantic City from the time it was a mosquito-infested swamp until the present day. When I hit the chapter on the Prohibition years and specifically about this guy, Nucky Johnson, I said, “That’s the show!” This guy this very complicated, corrupt politician who ran the city during Prohibition was the series and I knew we’d set the world around him. So that was the jumping off point.