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Westworld TV Series reels in Big Stars

Fans that grew up loving Westerns and Science Fiction were given a real treat with 1973’s, Westworld. It managed to mix both those genres to create what became something of a cult hit. It produced a sequel called Futureworld which wasn’t as highly successful, making it seem that this wild West/Sci-fi setting was dead and buried in terms of future projects. However, Star Wars director J.J Abrams and Jonathan Nolan (scribe of the Dark Knight movies) have decided they can breathe life into Westworld, and make it into the HBO pilot, which has obviously caught the eye of some big stars, who have signed on to the project without hesitation.

For those who are unfamiliar with the original, the story centred on “a robot malfunction which creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park.”

The original had a creepy atmosphere, and some cool themes about how you respect others who are at a disadvantage to you. While also exploring human power, and that maybe we (humans) are not in control after all.

All this news came in a rush last week as Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs), Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood), and James Marsden (X-Men) were all announced as having been given roles in the new series.

But who will they play?

Anthony Hopkins

Hopkins is reported to be playing a “brilliant, taciturn and complicated Creative Director, Chief Programmer and Chairman of the Board of Westworld,” who has been described as having an “uncompromising creative vision for the park — and unorthodox methods of achieving it.”

Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood

Rachel Wood is a little less eccentric compared to Hopkins’ character as she has been described as being “provincial, beautiful and kind… (and) about to discover that her entire idyllic existence is an elaborately constructed lie.” So this gives a reasonable indication that she might not be playing a human – perhaps a robot who believes she lives like everybody else? It’s a trope we’ve seen in many films, but hopefully with this TV series, we can get more time to see a character’s world fall apart as they realise they are slightly different from everybody else.

James Marsden

Marsden is going to be playing a robot that is made to be shot over and over again, as he is somewhat of a “toy” in a mock Wild West shootout for the tourists who like to pretend they are in a real movie scene – poor guy.

It seems this could be a kind of Planet of the Apes reboot of sorts, as in that film series the audience is mostly rooting for the non-human characters: the apes, because of the dire situation they are in and the fact that they are being imprisoned for the amusement of the humans which gives a reason to sympathise with these characters who are usually made out to be the villains in many films. So this new Westworld reboot seems to be doing just that – giving the robots a sympathetic side.

It’s a good writing trick, which will work even better if the writers can make the human characters likeable so we can root for both sides and make the conflict that much more unbearable as we do not want to see any of the characters get hurt; though I suspect that the robot’s character arc for Marsden will go from weak, sympathetic robot, to a more violent, and ruthless character as he might get tired of being shot over and over again, and transform into the “gunslinger” character played by Yul Brynner from the original.

Saying that, there might not be any returning characters, as HBO’s president of programming, Michael Lombardo has said that the movie and the show will be “similar only in construct” and that the shows “script is one of the more exciting scripts we’ve read in a very, very long time.” He said.

I’m not surprised with these comments, as there is so much room here for a compelling story and I’m sure the talent of Jonathan Nolan and J.J Abrams can deliver a truly unique show.

Let me know below whether you think Westworld will work as a TV series.