With the Michael Crichton-inspired series heading to HBO later this year, EW has just debuted a new image of Ed Harris as the show’s Gunslinger, the dressed-in-black robot cowboy iconically played by Yul Brynner in the 1973 original (and in its 1976 sequel, Futureworld). The outlet also sat down to speak with writers and executive producers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, who are beginning to slowly pull back the curtain with some clues as to what fans can expect from their small screen take.
“The glory of doing it as a series is that you get to kind of dance in the little spaces that were left unexplored,” says Joy. “In a film, you only have a finite amount of time, and you’re so concerned with saying what happened and making it a gripping short story with a satisfying ending. But in a TV series, you can really take a novelistic approach and explore characters that you wouldn’t ordinarily see, in a level of complexity that you wouldn’t ordinarily get to explore just out of the sheer time constraints in a feature.”
Both written and directed by Crichton, the original Westworld takes place in a future amusement park wherein visitors interact with androids in recreations of famous historical environments. When something goes wrong, however, the androids turn deadly.
“People who come into this place are looking for — and this is the irony of it — the authentic experience,” Nolan explains. “They’re looking for not the virtual version, but the real version, the tactile version. Interestingly we’ve arrived at what [the original film] created—fully immersible virtual worlds. Look at ‘Grand Theft Auto’ or any of these wholly imagined open-world video games. They are beautiful. They’re perfectly immersive and brilliant and filled with narrative turns.”
The pair confirm that the series will also show off the world outside of the theme park and that the central theme of the series will be about mankind’s uneasy relationship with artificial intelligence.
“[P]icture your neurosis,” Nolan continues. “Picture the things that keep you up at night—human behavior, artificial intelligence—any of those things that trouble you, worry you. That is exactly what the show is about. We are hoping to exploit all of those anxieties.”
In addition to Harris, “Westworld” stars Sir Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Miranda Otto, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan, and Simon Quarterman. Executive producing alongside Joy and Nolan are J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk.