Finally breaking their silence on the mysterious new Shogun World set to debut in ‘Westworld’ Season 2, co-show runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the highly anticipated new addition to the Delos Park, sharing details from the production side and what it could mean for the future of the series. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
When EW asked why Shogun World specifically, Jonathan Nolan spoke first, citing a need for global audiences from the Delos corporation, and his own love of Japanese film:
“Part of the reason we’re going to Shogun World instead of to Roman World or Medieval World is, yes, you saw those in the original film. But also if you’re doing a theme park, you wouldn’t limit it to the Western European or North American experience. You’d try to reach a global audience. So the idea is you have a texture here that’s totally different.
And selfishly, it comes down to being obsessed with Japanese cinema as a kid and earnestly wanting to make an homage to Akira Kurosawa and the other films I grew up watching. My older brothers and I watched Sergio Leone Westerns and Kurosawa’s classic samurai films and were fascinated to discover they had the same plot. You had this wonderful call and response between these two genres — with the gunslinger and the ronin. They have identical tropes but are set within different cultures. Frankly, this was just a great excuse to go and make a samurai movie with all the trimmings.”
Lisa Joy spoke about her own love of Asian entertainment, especially after having grown up in Asia, and how she really enjoyed the design prospects of the new park:
“For me, it’s also personal. I grew up in Asia, and I remember as a little kid being in Taiwan watching films there and being so awed by these new worlds of entertainment. You saw new talents with the actors, new fighting styles, new types of wardrobe. It was exhilarating to me. So we looked to all our [department heads] to make sure we had the full thrill of exploring Shogun World … researching hair and production design and costume, working with choreographers who were skilled at fighting styles we haven’t seen before, and of course working with incredible talent, from Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi, and the other actors that we cast and the extras filling it out. It was wonderful to see that world come alive.”
When asked about the violence level in Shogun World, which has been reported to be a step-up from the original Westworld park, Nolan stated:
“In addition to Kurosawa films, which are plenty bloody, I grew up watching the Sonny Chiba films — those are the ones Tarantino is riffing on in his films with the superfluidity of gore and mayhem; this sense of an alternately brutal and beautiful world that raises the volume on what the guests might be looking for. It wasn’t just about gore, it’s also about being immersive. We wanted to feel like our story dropped into a totally different world. Basically, we have a whole episode in Japanese.”
As to how much time we will actually be in Shogun World during Season 2, they both want to make sure expectations are not too high, as the show is still called ‘Westworld:’
“We want to try and gently temper expectations. Most of our season is spent in Westworld — the eponymous Westworld. But we do get a chance to glimpse some of the other worlds. And we have a couple of episodes that are spent in Shogun World with one of our storylines, while our other storylines continue elsewhere. So I say we’re trying to temper expectations, except to say that I think the stuff we did for Shogun World is spectacular.”
Lots to take from the information here, but I am very intrigued at the idea of a “whole episode in Japanese,” wondering how people are going to react to that, but fully aware that if anyone can pull it off, and do it well, it would be ‘Westworld.’ And knowing that Shogun World is going to be even more violent and bloody makes me very excited for any scenes set in the new park, as I cannot wait to see visually what the style is going to be like there, especially juxtaposed next to the Western motif of the original park. What did you think of Nolan and Joy’s interview? Did anything spark a new theory for you about ‘Westworld’ Season 2? Feel free to share any new thoughts you may have in the comments section below!