Born David Friedman in New York City, he changed his name to David Benioff, his mother's maiden name. He is the youngest of three, with 2 sisters, Suzy Cohen and Caroline Levy. Benioff is a Dartmouth College alumnus. He worked as a club bouncer and at 22 became a high school English teacher at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York City. Additionally, he attended the University of California Irvine and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in the creative writing program.
While working as a high school English teacher, he wrote the book The 25th Hour and received positive recognition for the book. He later adapted the book into a screenplay, which was filmed starring Edward Norton and was directed by Spike Lee. He then wrote a collection of short stories titled When the Nines Roll Over (And Other Stories) in 2004.
Benioff drafted a screenplay of the mythological epic Troy (2004) for which Warner Bros pictures paid him $2.5 million.He also wrote the script for the psychological thriller Stay (2005). The film was released October 21, 2005, and was directed by Marc Forster and starred Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. His screenplay, The Kite Runner, a film based on the book bearing the same name, marked his second collaboration with director Marc Forster.
He wrote the screenplay for the X-Men spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he was hired for the project in 2004, working on the script for three years.
In 2008, his second novel City of Thieves, A Novel was released.
He is currently working on an adapted screenplay of the Charles R. Cross biography of Kurt Cobain. It is unknown if the screenplay has been developed. He is also working with D.B. Weiss as executive producer, showrunner and writer on Game of Thrones, HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels.
Personal life: Benioff's father, Stephen Friedman, is the former head of Goldman Sachs. On September 30, 2006, in New York City, Benioff married actress Amanda Peet. His first child, a daughter named Frances Pen, was born on February 20, 2007. His second daughter, Molly June, was born on April 19, 2010.