HBO continues to try to build its base of prestige-magnet original programming, with the latest project of interest being Westworld, a TV reboot of the 1973 sci-fi movie starring Yul Brynner, which was written and directed by the late Michael Crichton.
For those unfamiliar, the story involves a futuristic adult-themed amusement park in which people can live out fantasies using robot actors - robots who eventually become sentient and run amok, causing havoc. Fans who don't remember the original Westworld probably remember The Simpsons episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (S6E4), which was based on the film.
HBO's development of a Westworld TV series was first announced about a year ago; the headline being that Jonathan Nolan and his wife Lisa Joy are co-writing it, while J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot was producing alongside Jerry Weintraub (Behind the Candelabra). Today, casting news for Westworld is being announced - and it's not looking too shabby.
Deadline reports that Sir Anthony Hopkins (Thor) and Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood) have been cast in HBO's Westworld, with X-Men star James Marsden supposedly in talks, as well. Here are the reported character details for Hopkins and Wood:
Hopkins will play Dr. Robert Ford, the brilliant, taciturn and complicated creative director, chief programmer and chairman of the board of Westworld who has an uncompromising creative vision for the park — and unorthodox methods of achieving it. Wood plays the provincial, beautiful and kind Dolores Abernathy, the quintessential farm girl of the frontier West — who is about to discover that her entire idyllic existence is an elaborately constructed lie.
Clearly, by stretching things into a TV series the HBO version of Westworld will have a more elaborate and slowly developed build to the horrific finale, which raises a lot of interesting questions about these characters and their development. This marks Hopkins' first TV role, but that's no longer really a headline; more and more big stars (from Halle Berry to Matthew McConaughey) are looking to TV as the new frontier for actual challenging and meaty roles.
So far, how Westworld will connect with viewers remains unknown, but HBO's latest series, The Leftovers is also based on a pre-existing property (a novel), and so far, it seems to be connecting with a fair number of people. Could be the network has a similar angle for Westworld, and with names like Nolan and Abrams attached, fan interest is almost guaranteed.
The Westworld pilot is currently in production; we'll keep you updated about a the air date/time and other casting and story news as they come to light.