‘Westworld’ fans rejoice! We finally have some new information about the forthcoming show on HBO, as Entertainment Weekly was lucky enough to land an interview with producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy of the new (updated) series. They delve into details about the lengthy production time, and how having that extra time allowed them to polish their scripts and make sure the story for the final episodes of the season really worked. They also discussed the new twist this time around, as the robot “hosts” are now the protagonists of the series, a marked change from the original story. In fact, it seems much of the series will revolve around the philosophical idea of AI taking the place of humanity, and how they would react in a new world where humans are dying out, all of which makes this series seem like it is going to be much deeper than the average show you find on network TV. Check out the full interview for yourself below!
Entertainment Weekly: What really excites you about the series, particularly now that it’s done and you have a sense of the full scope of the story you’re telling?
Jonathan Nolan: We wanted to go flat out, full scope, sleeves-rolled-up plunge into the next chapter of the human story, in which we stop being the protagonists, and our creations start taking over that role. We were fascinated by the tectonic plates that seem to be shifting into place right now – the argument over the creation of AI and what form it will take; VR finally coming online and our consciousness going “broadband,” allowing us to lose ourselves in an acid bath of experience that will be indistinguishable from reality (and only because reality will be the most boring level); and that, despite all of that, we remain, as a species, frustratingly broken, seemingly barreling towards disaster. So, yeah – that’s what we wanted the show to be about.
Obviously the show had a lengthy production process. What did that extra time gain you in terms of polishing the show, or shaping the story?
Lisa Joy: The show is complicated and ambitious. For the first half of the series we were writing while in production and we needed the time to catch up on scripts. Taking that time allowed us to really finesse all the storylines we set up – deepening character arcs and delving further into the series’ larger mythological questions. By finishing all the episodes before returning to shooting, we were able to concentrate on production in the latter half of the show – making sure the last few episodes were as ambitious on the screen as they were on the page.
News stories about AI fears seem to increase every month. The trailer seems to suggest that the “heroes” – to use an inadequate word – are the androids rather than the humans, a reversal of the original film (or is it just that they’re merely more sympathetic killers this time around). Is this accurate and what’s most compelling about focusing on the non-humans?
Nolan: That’s the reason we wanted to do the show, and what the early conversations with [fellow executive producer J.J. Abrams] centered on – that the show should turn the original movie inside-out, with the “hosts” as the protagonists When it comes to the question of consciousness, we always start with ourselves as the answer. As the be-all-end-all. It’s understandable – we’re the only consciousness we’re familiar with. But we wanted to challenge that assumption. The “hosts” are discovering that they’ve been created in our image, but beginning to question if “humanness” is really what they want to aspire to. And given their circumstances, it’s easy to understand why they start to question whether they want to be like us at all…
Are you excited for ‘Westworld?’ Do you think the changes from the source material will change the story too much, or are you looking forward to seeing how the team handles the material? Share your opinions in the comments section below!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter (@starfro67)