A year ago this week it was announced that Jonathan Nolan will act as showrunner and writer alongside Lisa Joy on a new HBO series based on Michael Crichton’s book and cult classic film Westworld. Busiest man in the world J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot cohorts Bryan Burk and Jerry Weintraub will also produce the new series. Variety reported that the HBO rendition of Westworld is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”
Something must have happened to Crichton at a theme park in his youth because Westworld is his first of two theme park disaster stories, the second being Jurassic Park. Westworld is the story of a Disney World-like park with multiple themed sections inhabited by lifelike androids that allow guests to act out their wildest fantasies. Of course there is a malfunction and the robots go rogue. The original 1973 film was directed by Crichton and starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin.
Now after many casting announcements all summer, Westworld has become one of TV’s hottest projects with one of the most interesting casts ever assembled on the small screen. The Hollywood Reporter details how this came to be and the major players involved. The big surprise, a prime example of how far TV has come, is that Hannibal Lector himself, Anthony Hopkins, will play the creator of the park. The next batch of casting announced that several park androids would be played by James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton.
More big casting included Miranda Otto, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, and Shannon Woodward. Ed Harris has also been cast in the role of a key villain. This marks a return to HBO for Harris after Game Change and Empire Falls.
Westworld has incredible talent both behind and in front of the camera. The idea of many of these great actors playing androids capable of a myriad of different personas is highly intriguing for fans of the craft. The theme of playing God in both Westworld and Jurassic Park can be greatly expanded upon in this new ongoing series. With so much going for it, HBO’s Westworld is something that should be on everyone’s radar.