It won’t always be easy to tell who is who – or what – in HBO’s Westworld, premiering on October 2, but it will certainly be interesting. HBO has dubbed the series, “a new drama about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin.”
Inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, the 10-episode first season of Westworld will reportedly keep you thinking.
Evan Rachel Wood, who plays in the role of one of the human-like hosts at the futuristic Western theme park, explained there is little difference between the appearance of the hosts and the human guests visiting the park.
During a Westworld panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, she explained that they “settled on a place of subtlety.”
“These were the things that made the difference between the hosts (and the humans). One slight little movement or freeze that throws you off completely” can reveal a host, Wood said.
According to a report by Deadline, the new series reportedly explores artificial consciousness, memory, identity and that all too human subject – sin, via interactions between the hosts and guests, who act out fantasy storylines, many oriented toward violence and sex.
According to executive producer Lisa Joy, Westworld goes on to explore the increasingly narrow divide between human life and artificial consciousness in the real world.
Joy said, “It’s questioning: ‘Where does life begin?'” she said, adding, “It’s a constant examination of that line. Where does consciousness begin and end?”
Thandie Newton plays a madame working in the saloon of the Western town and explained that playing a non-human made her feel “more exquisitely human than I’ve ever felt. (There are) so many existential questions about being human and do hosts end up reflecting us more perfectly than we are?”
Wood went on to explain the challenge of playing a host, which involves instantaneously switching gears. She said her character, Dolores, manages to go from “panic attack to complete freeze to (a character) accent in 30 seconds.”
— Variety (@Variety) July 31, 2016
Ed Harris also appears in Westworld, where he plays the mysterious “Man in Black.” His character is a guest who has been visiting the park for more than 30 years. This has given him the ability to explore and master the guest storylines of the park in similar ways to an expert player in a video game.
“When he first arrived, he was exploring what this place was like: ‘I can do anything I want, kill people if I need to or make love to strange, robotic prostitutes,’ ” Harris said.
“I think something happened to him. There’s a part of him that’s very dark, very violent. He realized that was a part of him he had never lived with in his life. So, he embraces that part of himself when he comes to the park.”
— HBO PR (@HBOPR) July 30, 2016
Westworld, which also stars Anthony Hopkins and James Marsden, opens from the perspective of the robotic and human-like hosts, rather than a human one, making the distinction between the two even more difficult.
According to executive producer Jonathan Nolan, Westworld offers its human guests “a sandbox environment to play in without consequence.”
Reportedly, this means there will be acts of nobility and depravity, but the producers, who include J.J. Abrams, did say they were careful with depictions of sexual violence.
As reported by USA Today, Joy said, “It was definitely something that was heavily discussed and considered as we worked on those scenes. Westworld is an examination of human nature.“
Joy went on to say this includes maternal and romantic love, all the way through to violence and sexual violence.
The violent acts “have sadly been a fact of human history since the beginning … In its portrayal, we never (meant it) to be about the fetishization of those acts. It’s about exploring the crime and torment of the characters within the story and exploring it with dignity and depth,” Joy added.
[Image via HBO]