After True Detective, toplined by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the casting bar for HBO‘s new drama series is pretty high. Enter the pay cable network’s pilot Westworld, which has locked in Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood for lead roles. The project, inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi movie set at an amusement park, hails from from J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot, Person Of Interest creator Jonathan Nolan, writer Lisa Joy Nolan, producer Jerry Weintraub and Warner Bros TV. It landed at HBO a year ago with one of the biggest commitments ever for the premium network, a pilot production commitment, and now has been officially greenlighted to pilot with Hopkins and Wood on board. Described as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin, the series will keep the setting of the movie, which starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin and introduced new digital visual techniques.
In his first TV series role, Hopkins will play Dr. Robert Ford, the brilliant, taciturn and complicated creative director, chief programmer and chairman of the board of Westworld who has an uncompromising creative vision for the park — and unorthodox methods of achieving it. Wood plays the provincial, beautiful and kind Dolores Abernathy, the quintessential farm girl of the frontier West — who is about to discover that her entire idyllic existence is an elaborately constructed lie. Also in talks for a lead role in the pilot is James Marsden. This marks Wood’s return to HBO where she had a recurring role on True Blood and co-starred in the miniseries Mildred Pierce. Husband-and-wife duo Jonah and Lisa Joy Nolan wrote the script and are executive producing Westworld with Abrams, Weintraub and Bryan Burk. Jonah also will direct.
Related: 2014 HBO pilots