“We played some as research for making this show, as when (Michael) Crichton first wrote his movie, video games literally didn’t exist except for PONG,” said executive producer Jonathan Nolan today at the Westworld panel at New York Comic-Con. “I’m happy to report my wife is the world’s most boring Grand Theft Auto player,” he added of the co-showrunner of the HBO series.
“The way they crafted some of the shots is to mimic a video game,” said star Thandie Newton of the EP’s approach. “The way we are there is not the way we are in the real world,” Nolan noted of the allure and freedom, for better or worse, of video games and that comparison to the cowboy themed park of Westworld.
Praising the advantage of TV over movies to find room for a wide variety of storylines and knocking his habit of writing too long, Nolan said as almost an aside that he and Joy are “breaking Season 2” right now. HBO hasn’t publicly given the just launched series a renewal yet.
Slipping back into his more reticent persona, Nolan wouldn’t confirm if there were specific other themes on the Westworld landscape. “Roman and medieval?,” he responded to an audience question of the other parks noted in the 1973 pic. “No!,” admitting with laughter that in all the years he’d been coming to NYCC he’d almost never answered a question directly.
Also joining Nolan, Joy and Newton on the final panel of the 2016 confab at the Hammerstein Ballroom were actors Jeffrey Wright, Jimmi Simpson and Ben Barnes. Anthony Hopkins, who plays the creator of Westworld, and Evan Rachel Wood, who portrays the consciousness gaining robot ranch girl and park “host” Dolores were not in attendance. “He’s the Walt Disney and Colonel Kurtz of the park,” noted Wright of Hopkins’ character with a reference to the crazed rogue U.S. military officer role that Marlon Brando played in Apocalypse Now.
Before the panel, the crowd in the 34th Street venue was shown a short trailer of Season 1 and got a glimpse of how bloody, violent, overflowing and crucifying things will get as the “park seduces everyone,” according to one character. They were also given a look at the second episode of the October 2 debuting series based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie of the same name. When first announced by HBO and NYCC last month, this was supposed to be an exclusive sneak peek for attendees ahead of tonight’s 9 PM ET airing of the “Chestnut” episode.
However, up against the sure to be much watched second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and Sunday Night Football, the premium cabler made the episode available on HBO GO, HBO Now and On Demand on October 7. Set to premiere tonight right after the Nolan, Joy and J.J. Abrams EP’d series, the pilot of the Sarah Jessica Parker starring Divorce was also put up online by HBO, joining the Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore created Insecure, which had seen its 10:30 PM ET debut already available for a couple of weeks.
— Anthony Hopkins (@AnthonyHopkins) October 7, 2016
“You can’t play God without being acquainted with the Devil,” Hopkins’ Dr. Ford tells Wright’s head programmer Bernard – summing up the detail specific episode in many ways, which showed the corporate plays in action as well in Westworld itself.
Amidst the weaving storylines set loose in last week’s visceral Westworld opener, the Richard J. Lewis directed “Chestnut” episode introduced two new visitors to the high priced frontier themed park. Starting with their luxury high tech monorail ride into Westworld and transformation in white hatted and black hatted cowboys, the understated William (Simpson) and the vice seeking Logan (Ben Barnes). The latter, quick to the violence and sex that pervade the series, may have dropped one of the clues to future developments in the HBO series when he mentions to William, “who says this isn’t work?” over dinner.
The goal of long time repeat visitor Ed Harris’ Man in Black became a little clearer with the map on a scalped host head leading him to “the maze, the deepest level of this God damn game.” After words from Dolores, Newton’s prostitute Maeve starts experiencing the glitch affecting other hosts, which leads to her being taken back to the lab, and a potential decommissioning, and a naked look at the backstage workings of the sprawling “live without limits” fantasyland – which looks to be getting religion, if the last frame of “Chestnut” is any indication.
Episode 2 of Westworld airs tonight on HBO and New York Comic-Con 2016 ends today.