Recently, after having received 21 Emmy nominations for the epic second season of their series, ‘Westworld’ showrunners and power-couple Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about the twisty second-season of their acclaimed drama, the fan reactions, and what they are planning for Season 3. I’ve shared some of the highlights of that interview below.
First up, is there answer to whether the fan reactions (good and bad) to Season 2 affected their view of the series so far:
JONATHAN NOLAN “It’s funny because the project really originated with Lisa and me sitting alone in a room thinking about what Michael Crichton was thinking about 40 years ago and then trying to build on it. These things always start as a private enterprise; at a certain point, you have to show it to an audience. The reception was obviously incredibly exciting, and the level of engagement from people. And we know that our show requires people to lean forward a little bit and pay attention and maybe hold off on going to make that sandwich for another five minutes.”
Next up they were asked to share any details they can about Season 3, especially since so much has changed following the explosive Season 2 finale and the fact that Delores and Bernard are now in the “real world:”
NOLAN “I think it’s a radical shift. What’s compelling and appealing about these characters is that they’re not human. As we said in the show, humans are bound by the same loops the hosts are, in some ways even smaller. You couldn’t expect human characters to withstand and survive the kind of story that we’re telling. The hosts have a different version of mortality, a different outlook. I think clearly with Dolores, as she’s laid out, there is a longer view here, a larger set of goals. They’re existential. They span eons. And that’s a fascinating level of story to engage in.”
LISA JOY “It really is like repiloting.”
THR also asked how much room for detours they have in the writers room or if everything is mapped out ahead of time, using Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte character as an example, and asking if they always knew where they were going with her, and what she will become in Season 3:
JOY “Absolutely, and it’s something we’re really excited about, especially because Tessa is such a fun, amazing and versatile actress. When you have someone like her, it just opens up limitless possibilities. So we always knew that we were going to do this reveal and let her expand into this new role. We have a very diabolical arc for her planned out. Part of the fun for the character will be self-realization. She will be realizing the things we know about who she is.”
Lastly, they were asked about the most unexpected response they got from fans this season, which seemed to range from the very heartfelt to the somewhat depressing:
JOY “It’s funny because I’ve gotten more personal responses to this season than anything I’ve ever written, with people reaching out independently, and one of the things that has touched me deeply is hearing from people who have been trapped in loops in their lives that they’ve struggled desperately to get out of, whether they’re cycles of violence or cycles of addiction.”
NOLAN “Look, it’s a fictional show. It’s about fucking killer robots, right? You know you’re into that genre space, but for us, it’s also about human behavior, and one of the things I think is that we’re all looking at the world, which is ever more incoherent every day. All of us are struggling with human foibles and this feeling that we’re backsliding. Are we retrenching from a global community? Are we backsliding into war again after a long peace? When people talk to you about finding things in this very heightened show simultaneously in the future and the past, how it speaks to them about human behavior and about things they’ve struggled with, that’s very powerful.”
All in all, an interesting interview, though not really much was said about Season 3 aside from the “repiloting” comment, which does hint toward a very different type of season than what we have seen before.
What are your thoughts on their comments? Did you read something that I missed? Feel free to share anything you picked up on in the comments below!