Westworld director Richard Lewis answers our burning questions after watching the third episode of season 2, “Virtù e Fortuna.” Go here for our deep-dive recap breaking down the episode and its new park.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So we open with a new world we haven’t seen before, Park 6, The Raj. I bet Jonathan Nolan wanted a very different look, lighting- and color-wise, to set this apart from Westword?
RICHARD LEWIS: Yeah, we wanted to create an opulence in the color palette. Instead of that dusty feel, one that’s a bit more pristine sense about the place. Much of that was achieved in the art direction, costuming, and locations that we picked.
I was thinking the use of “Seven Nation Army” would have been even more perfect if there were seven parks instead of six, but it was still quite cool …
[Composer Ramin Djawadi] actually played the sitar himself on that. There was a lot of talk about various pieces, and we landed on the White Stripes piece because it was in the genre of the Nirvana stuff we were using. It just felt right, and it lends itself to an Indian flavor. … I had gone to India as a research trip. The place where The Raj takes place is Rajasthan. The forests are not particularly jungle-y, they’re like what you saw. And so I just wanted a little bit of green, and thank God we had great greens people brought in, but it was a challenge to shoot it in December in Southern California.
The identity of our mystery woman is obviously answered later in the season, but I wanted to ask you about the guns. There’s been some confusion about this, and they play a key moment in your opening. Obviously, they can tell if they’re aimed at a human or a host. But do the guns fire bullets at different speeds, depending on who they’re aimed at? Or do the somehow internally switch ammo from lethal to nonlethal? Or is it something else?
They do slow down and create more of a bruise effect. There’s a safety mechanism that’s locked in when it’s on a human that it creates a different [velocity] for the bullet.
What can you tell us about your big battle scene?
I wanted to something original and interesting and dusty and dirty and not totally choreographed. The battle is the icing of those really great scenes with Dolores and Bernard, Teddy and Abernathy. I wanted to create a lot of scope. I kept asking for more people and more cameras. We got a lot of pyrotechnics in there. The set was beautifully done. … I think we shot five or six days in over 110-degree heat. The actors are wearing heavy wool costumes; they were completely exhausted in the end.
Dolores has her masked men, which I assume are Wyatt’s loyalists. What can you tell us about them?
They’re called the Horde. I think you’re right, they’re Wyatt loyalists. They’re repurposed by Dolores to do her bidding. And their deputy in charge is Angela.
Dolores I guess is very selective about which hosts survive and which do not. It’s a bit odd because she’s all for hosts over humans, but has no problem killing off supposedly hosts en masse.
Yeah, but the Confederados are the bottom of the barrel. They’re fair game.
Dolores, we know, has access to all her memories. Teddy, I take it, has access to none of his memories beyond his current life. But Maeve is less clear — I’m guessing that despite being able to change her attributes, she only has some flashes to her past at best, is that correct?
I think so. Maeve upped her intelligence levels, and she now seems to have this psychic ability to control other hosts — which because of what happens in the park goes on the fritz a bit, as you can see in the sequence in the river. In regards to Teddy, he clearly does not know who Peter Abernathy is, and he’s met him many times. So he was reset and wiped. He’s lagging behind the other hosts in terms of what he remembers and what he doesn’t.
In the season 2 premiere — which you also directed — we’re told the parks are on an island, there’s a military officer speaking Chinese, there’s Chinese lettering on a building on the mainland in episode 2. Is the audience supposed to assume at this point that we’re off the coast of China? I’m not asking for a spoiler here — I’m not sure if that’s supposed to still be a mystery or we can just assume it at this point.
The park is global, and many international flavors are coming in. I don’t if the map has changed. We don’t want to put the park specifically off the coast of China. We’re not meant to know. I’m not saying we’re not in Asia. But I don’t want to put it anywhere at this point.
We get a tease of Shogun World at the very end. What can you tell us about your trip into that world?
The creation of the new parks is part of the philosophy of expansion. Going from the interior worlds [of the host characters] to the exterior worlds. And trying to move to our work in different genres. I looked at movies like Lagaan — Indian films that deal with the Raj. When we start talking about expanding to new genres, we’re not just dealing with the Western and sci-fi genres, now we’re in this other genre of filmmaking that was really important to [creators] Jonah [Nolan] and Lisa [Joy].
More: EW’s deep-dive recap for “Virtù e Fortuna.” Westworld airs Sundays on HBO.