HBO’s remake of the 1973 film ‘Westworld’ is moving forward and we have a ton of new details to share with you! This is a film that could easily have been made into a series and I’m glad to see that HBO is taking the initiative to not only do so but put in some great casting at the same time. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are creating ‘Westworld’ with J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk on board to produce. In a world where AI has heightened to the point where theme parks are using them for adults to act out their fantasies. Things take a turn for the worse when these AI become self aware and turn on humanity.
Nolan and Joy were recently interviewed about the series and had quite a bit to say about it!
With so much potential it isn’t a surprise that anyone would join the project. It ended up not only being the plot but the expanded universe that wasn’t used as well as the rest of the creative team that brought these two fully on board.
Jonathan Nolan: I’ve collaborated with J.J. now for several years on our show on CBS [Person of Interest]. He’s a lovely guy, a brilliant guy. He called us last summer and explained that he wanted to figure out how Westworld could be remade. In that usual Michael Crichton fashion, he never wrote anything that was just a film — there was always a massive world behind it that could be mined. Lisa and I thought about it a little bit, and came to the realization this had literally everything that we’re interested in in one series. We couldn’t say no.
Lisa Joy: It’s such an amazing world. It’s such an amazing platform for examining so many things that are top of mind for me intellectually, emotionally, psychologically. Jonah and I joked that it’s kind of like we took a bunch of movies that we were thinking about writing and shoved it all into this TV series. It’s been incredibly thrilling.
While the movie was set in a pretty strong structure they believe that they have a narrative that can turn it into a full series. The events that happened in the original film were far-thinking and are still relative to today’s society with the increasing advance of AI.
Nolan: Crichton wrote this as an original screenplay and then directed it. There’s no book. What you feel in the film is there’s this larger world that he barely has time to explore. It leaves you breathless. Westworld goes from one f–king massive idea to the next. At one point in there, he references why the robots are misbehaving. He describes the concept of the computer virus. When they were shooting the film it was the same year, or the year before, the appearance of the first actual computer virus. This is why Crichton was so brilliant. He knew so much about the technologies that were about to emerge, spent so much time thinking about how they would actually work. Consider the fact that the original film was written prior to the existence of even the first video game. Think about massive multiplayer roll-playing games, and the complexity and richness of video game storytelling. When he wrote Westworld, none of that existed! So it’s a film that anticipated so many advances in technology. The film has a structure that barrels forward—there’s this unstoppable android hellbent on vengeance—and it preceded The Terminator by 10 years.
Joy: The glory of doing it as a series is that you get to kind of dance in the little spaces that were left unexplored. 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. I think we’re very much looking forward to taking all those possibilities and exploding out.
Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a plot where AI has gone rampart. From the first ‘Westworld’ to the ‘Terminator’ franchise’ to ‘Blade Runner’ to ‘Dollhouse’ this is familiar territory for us. Yet, for as much as the subject has come up they believe there are still so many questions to ask when it comes to AI. This is even more relevant as it is another piece of science fiction on the verge of becoming actual science.
Nolan: My brother’s favorite movie is Blade Runner. I can’t count the amount of times he’s made me watch it. [Lisa and I] both watched and admired Dollhouse. There are really smart people asking interesting questions about this sort of universe. But I think there are lots of questions left unanswered. A.I. [Artificial Intelligence] is a topic that Lisa and I are both fascinated by. And the thing about science fiction is that it’s past the golden age. The great [talents] have already taken a crack at lot of this. But it’s still very pleasurable take a swing at some of the bigger ideas.
Joy: I think the other thing that’s fascinating about doing this now is, in a short amount of time since Blade Runner came out, the kind of science that we’re talking about has become closer to “science” than it is to the “fiction” part of “science-fiction.” I think we’re standing at an interesting precipice from which to both view the future and to hypothesize about the future. I think that all of that new information will help add new dimensions to this world.
Of course with the rise of virtual reality and themes from MMO’s in video games one has to wonder how exactly is this park set. Is it virtual or something physical like the original film.
Nolan: Here’s the thing: People who come into this place are looking for—and this is the irony of it—the authentic experience. 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 … “What happens in Westworld stays in Westworld.” It’s a place where you can be whoever the f–k you want to be and there are no consequences. No rules, no limitations.
‘Battlestar Galactica’ and so many other pieces of great science fiction have proven is that commenting on real-world problems is key. Will ‘Westworld’ be doing any of that?
Nolan: I would say, picture your neurosis. 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… We’re incredibly excited about it, both on the narrative level and on a cinematic level.
To me it sounds as if the show has cherry picked the best parts of the film and how it applies to our modern society and what could soon change with the advance of AI. I’m looking forward to seeing how they will comment on humanity being able to do anything they want and what the AI will do as it learns what it is.
What are your thoughts on HBO’s ‘Westworld’? Do you think this was a good film to reboot as a series or are you getting not a fan of AI’s deciding to take on humanity?
Source: Entertainment Weekly