Even though the artificial intelligence-fueled world of Westworld may revel in sharing secrets to its visitors, the HBO show’s creators, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, avoided divulging spoilers during their New York Comic Con panel — but fans did get the download on some behind-the-scenes details after watching a screening of the second episode.
Below, check out the highlights from a spoiler-allergic panel that also included cast members Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Jimmi Simpson, and Ben Barnes.
The cast is as in the dark as fans
Nolan and Joy, who also act as the sci-fi Western’s executive producers, really do hold all the cards. (Just consider them the Ford — as played by Anthony Hopkins — of the series.) “As the performers, you only knew exactly what they let you know,” Simpson, who plays new visitor William, said while pointing to the pair. “It was the perfect amount.” Barnes, though, disagreed, just as his character does with Simpson’s. “I found it infuriating,” he said.
Even so, Newton said she picks up clues by rewatching episodes. “We see these episodes time and time again, and suddenly you’re noticing these subtle things,” she said. “You’ll pick up [clues].”
Filming Westworld is like filming two (or more) shows at a time
The ensemble cast often doesn’t share scenes, as those in Westworld interact in story loops, while those outside usually stay outside looking in. Because of that, Newton said she barely had time to work with Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Dolores, the oldest host in the park. “I’m a huge Evan fan, and I didn’t spend much time with Evan at all,” she recalled. Wright then pointed to his costars on the panel, adding, “I just met these guys on the 3 train coming over here.”
Still, the sets were close enough to each other for some of the cast to wander around and catch a glimpse of what else is happening in the story. “When I walk outside [Bernard’s] lab at the studio to lunch, I walk in the middle of the Western town,” Wright said. “It was pretty trippy… I think we all got that we’re all in it together, even though some of us were in different time zones.” Simpson agreed: “You saw everyone else having these experiences, and you had nothing to do with it,” he said. “It was really filmic… It was such a full experience.”
Nolan wanted to take a new perspective on AI — despite his previous AI-related projects
It’s no secret this isn’t Jonathan Nolan’s first artificial intelligence rodeo. Having co-written Interstellar — which featured AI supporting characters — and executive-produced the AI-centric Person of Interest, Nolan found that the only perspective he hadn’t yet explored was the one of human-like AI. “The idea of the anthropomorphic artificial intelligence, the idea of AI, in a sense, cobbled to have to look like us and act like us was, for me, something I haven’t tackled before,” he said. “When I was working on Interstellar, it felt for me like I’d found my subject.”
The writers are working on season 2
No, HBO hasn’t officially renewed the drama just yet, but Nolan teased that the writers’ surplus of ideas is already being worked on for a potential second season. “We’re currently breaking the second season,” Nolan said. “I tend to have a problem stopping [my writing].”