Having added Kingdom’s Jonathan Tucker and Absentia’s Neil Jackson for Season 2 yesterday and snagged a place earlier this month as the drama with the most Emmy nominations, Westworld rolled into Comic-Con with a lot of intensity – almost none of which was directly flexed in Hall H with what was a rollicking panel and a surprise look at a clearly very violent Season 2.
At the very end of the panel, there was a brief but very bloody look at the upcoming season of the HBO show with footage of a haunting self-playing piano then a lot of dead bodies. The trailer also shows Thandie Newton’s character backstage at the theme park amidst carnage, a dead tiger, Evan Rachel Wood firing off a rifle while on horseback, and ends on a smirking Ed Harris’ Man in Black with a cut up and oozing face. As you can see by the trailer above, there was a soundtrack of Sammy Davis Jr.’s “I Gotta Be Me” but no dialogue in the footage for the new season, which just recently started filming.
Unlike last year’s New York Comic-Con appearance, where EP Jonathan Nolan leaked out that as a yet unannounced second season was being planned, there was little hesitance today about expanding the notion of the theme parks depicted on the premium cabler series — kind of. Keeping details of Season 2 under the lid for the most part, Nolan joked that the real goal of the HBO series was to franchise it into actual theme parks. “We just broke ground in western Australia a couple of weeks ago,” he said with a smile.
“How much do you want it to play a role in Season 2,” Nolan punted when asked by a fan what the significance of the samurai scenes in the end of Season 1 was and would it indicate a new type of Samurai World theme park emerging for the show. “Doesn’t look like anything to me,” Nolan added, giving nothing or everything away.
While Anthony Hopkins was not in the room in the flesh, today’s panel included Nolan and fellow EP Lisa Joy plus cast members Newton (Maeve), Harris (Man in Black) Wood (Dolores), Shannon Woodward (Elsie) and Jeffrey Wright (Bernard/Arnold). Also there was Ben Barnes (Logan), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Armistice), Luke Hemsworth (Stubbs), James Marsden (Teddy), Simon Quarterman (Lee Sizemore), Rodrigo Santoro (Hector), Angela Sarafyan (Clementine), Jimmi Simpson (William) and Tessa Thompson (Charlotte).
Debuting on October 2 last year, the sprawling Nolan- and Joy-created series based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie successfully mined the open sandbox of multiple storylines and resets found in the hugely successful GTA video game franchise, as I said at the time in my review. Just more than a month after the premiere, HBO renewed the series for a second 10-episode season.
“All the smart stuff, her, Grand Theft Auto, me,” a good humored Nolan said of he and Joy’s influences for the drama besides the original film.
“One of my questions about the show is how long we can do it,” Nolan also told the fans of Westworld’s run, but not all together seriously. “My perception of reality has changed since we started,” he added, noting that he and Harris had done a tequila shot in a SDCC parking lot earlier in the day.
“It was like someone had given me f*cking condor wings,” Wood said in one of the few serious moments of the panel in discussing how the dilemmas of her character and the quality of the writing on the series made her feel and affected her personally. “I would drive home and be covered in bruises in blood because it was for something amazing, she added passionately. “It meant something.”
The overall whimsy of the panel was sort of predicted before the cast and creatives took the stage.
At the very beginning, the crowd was shown footage that started off with Harris’s Man in Black saying, “What if I told you I’m here to set you free?” But if anyone thought that the viz was a tease or a trailer for the upcoming second season, Wood getting stuck in a door revealed that this was clearly a crowd-pleasing blooper reel for the room.
With giggles, forgotten lines, profanity and a green-screen illuminated Hopkins dancing, the reel stood in stark contrast to the extremities of the human- and android-populated world created by Hopkins’ Robert Ford and the Season 2 trailer that dropped later on.
Nominated for 22 Emmys this year, the freshman series is matched with Saturday Night Live for the most noms.
No premiere date has been announced for Westworld’s second season, but it is expected to air later this year.