The cast and creators of HBO’s Westworld were on hand for a massive Hall H panel just before Marvel’s convention ending finale. Show creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa gushed over the influences and inspirations for the show. Nolan offered, “My perception of reality has shifted greatly since the creation of the show. I’m convinced we must be in some kind of simulation.” The duo explained how they had to sink themselves in video game narratives to get a true sense of the structure they were looking for, even playing Grand Theft Auto for long durations. Nolan explained of Joy, “My wife is the only person who obeys all the traffic laws in Grand Theft Auto.”
The cast also gushed about their pleasure for being a part of the show. Jimmi Simpson who plays William on the show recalled of how so much of where the story was going was a mystery to him that, “In that way it was the greatest acting lesson I ever had. I loved that.” The legendary Ed Harris who plays the shows foreboding “The Man in the Black” considered it a richness of quality in the show’s construction. He explained, “Jon and Lisa invested so much time into this thing. It gave us a lot as actors. It’s extremely detailed. I just think that anything that’s paid attention to the level that is ends up being good.”
Thandie Newton (who plays the character Maeve who undergoes an elaborate transformation in season 1) was asked about what she thought Maeve’s reasoning was for going back for her “daughter” inside Westworld instead of fleeing. Newton slyly replied, “Is she going back for her daughter?” as the crowd applauded with surprise. Lead actress Evan Rachel Wood (who plays protagonist Dolores) was elated with how much fuel the show gave her as an actor. She explained how often in our world you feel constrained, unable to fly. She equated Westworld to the opposite, stating, “This was like someone had given me fucking condor wings and I could just take off and fly.”
James Marsden (who plays the unfortunate not-quite-a-hero) Teddy admired the purity of the characters they get to play. He explained, “I think teddy and Dolores represent romantic hope. This romantic purity. A lot of how he feels about Dolores is still there.” He further added, “I love how these hosts represent the best of what humanity is about. The hosts can be more human than the humans that come to the park.”
On the flip side, the actors also found certain revelations harder to render than others. Wood explained that William’s evil transformation was particularly hard to stomach. She explained, “One of the hardest scenes to shoot was when Jimmy donned the black hat. We couldn’t even look each other in the eye.”
Somehow, impossibly, they then showed a brief trailer for season two (even though the show has only been in production on the season for a week). As the montage ended on a blood spattered view of Harris’ “The Man in the Black” the crowd roared with applause.