With the end of Game of Thrones now looming close on the horizon, HBO is getting serious about keeping viewers drawn into their Sunday night lineup. Though the ratings giant has two more seasons in the works, it’s never too soon to start grooming audiences for a replacement series, which is what many are hopeful for when Westworld premieres next month.
It’s certainly got all the makings of a potential hit. Produced by Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar) and wife Lisa Joy Nolan (Pushing Daisies), Westworld already has a mountain of star power to draw interest to the show. Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World) stars alongside Ed Harris (Snowpiercer), Evan Rachel Wood (Into the Forest) and James Marsden (X-Men: Days of Future Past) in the update of Michael Crichton’s 1973 cinematic classic about artificial intelligence run amok at a western themed theme park. Though buzz for the series has been building for well over a year now, fans became worried earlier this year when production on Westworld abruptly stopped. Though things eventually kicked back into gear, there were lingering doubts as to whether or not the series could be everything HBO hoped for as its premiere drew closer. New information about the months long halt has come out, shedding light on the reasons for the stoppage.
In a report in EW, Westworld insiders revealed that production on the series was stopped while the writing team tightened up storylines for five seasons, and even the finale. In a conversation with the publication, Marsden clarified the goals and intents for the production stoppage, hinting that the brief pause allowed for later storylines to be firmed up and get better established in their inaugural season:
“It wasn’t about getting the first 10 [episodes] done, it was about mapping out what the next 5 or 6 years are going to be. We wanted everything in line so that when the very last episode airs and we have our show finale, five or seven years down the line, we knew how it was going to end the first season – that’s the way Jonah and [executive producer J.J. Abrams] operate. They’re making sure all the ducks are in the row. And it’s a testament to Jonah and Lisa and HBO that we got them right, especially the last three scripts. They could have rushed them and get spread too thin. They got them right, and when they were right, we went and shot them.”
That’s certainly good news for people who have high hopes for Westworld. Too often, high concept series get bogged down in details and end up meandering without much of a purpose. Similar criticisms were levied against Abrams’ Lost, and it’s important for writers to have an end game in mind when developing complex storylines like Westworld will supposedly delve into. Jonathan Nolan added to Marsden’s thoughts:
“We didn’t want to have a story that repeated itself [each year]. We didn’t want the Fantasy Island version of this [where new guests arrive at the park every season]. We wanted a big story. We wanted the story of the origin of a new species and how that would play out in its complexity.”
Greatness is certainly not a pool one can just dive right into. Creating an impactful, long lasting series requires a good amount of thought and foresight. While the work stoppage was definitely worrisome when it was announced, now it seems as though it was the best move they could have made. It’s a good sign that the cast and crew realized they could deliver a better product if they had a little more time, and the end result may in fact be a series that’s worthy of its place next to Game of Thrones. We’ll have our first idea about this when it premieres next month, so for now stay tuned for any and all information on Westworld.
Westworld premieres Sunday, October 2 on HBO.