HBO's current slate of original programming runs the gamut in terms of genre, be it fantasy (Game of Thrones), crime drama (The Night Of), or political satire (Veep), among others. However, over the decade that that has passed since David Milch's Deadwood went off the air, the network hasn't had a successful western TV show to call its own; nor, for the matter, has HBO had a proper science-fiction hit series to its name. The upcoming Westworld, based on the 1973 movie of the same name created by the late Michael Crichton (author/screenwriter of Jurassic Park), fills both of those niches with its chilling tale of a western-themed park for adults where androids allows guests to act our their fantasies, no matter how depraved or disturbing.
Westworld, as was created by married duo Lisa Joy (Pushing Daisies) and Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest), has gone through its share of production hurdles, due in no small part to the scope and ambitious nature of the project. However, the show at last has an official premiere date on HBO, as was revealed as part of HBO's presentation at the 2016 Television Critics Association summer press tour. Additional images and details for the TV series have now been unveiled, too.
Beginning with its series premiere on October 2nd, 2016, Westworld aims to examine "the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin," as HBO's official press release puts it. The show's vast (and impressive) cast ensemble includes Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford, the chief programmer and founder of Westworld; Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy, a "provincial, beautiful and kind rancher’s daughter" who begins to realize that the world as she knows it is "an elaborately constructed lie"; and Ed Harris as The Man in Black, the "distillation of pure villainy into one man" (and no, he's not related to The Dark Tower's antagonist of the same name).
You can check out new photos of those Westworld cast members, among others, in the image gallery below:
Also pictured above are Westworld cast members Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Games trilogy) as Bernard Lowe, the head of Westworld's programming division whose "keen observation of human nature" aids him in his job of designing artificial beings; Thandie Newton (Crash) as Maeve Millay, an individual with "a genius for reading people and a knack for survival," who also begins to realize that her reality is not what it seems; and James Marsden (the X-Men franchise) as Teddy Flood, a fellow with charm and "talent with a revolver" who's new to a small frontier town in Westworld. Other noteworthy cast members on the TV series include Tessa Thompson (Creed), Rodrigo Santoro (300) and Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen).
Joy, speaking during the 2016 TCA press tour, had the following to say about Westworld's premise and how the TV show evolves Crichton's original vision for his 1973 film (per Variety):
“[Michael] Crichton is such a genius that he was able to predict the far flung events. Today it’s not really science fiction, it’s science fact. … Our examination of AI within ‘Westworld’ accounts for a plurality of ways that AI could develop.”
The Westworld co-creator also touched on the show's use of sexualized violence, after HBO was criticized for how its original programing tends to use sexual assault and/or violence in general (a criticism levied against such TV shows as Game of Thrones in particular, during the series' initial five seasons), as part of the current TCA press tour:
“It was definitely something that was heavily discussed and heavily considered as we worked on those scenes. 'Westworld’ is a consideration of human nature. The best parts of human nature … and the basest parts of human nature. That includes violence and sexual violence. [It's] something we all take seriously... We wanted it to not be about the fetishization of those acts.”
Westworld premieres on HBO on October 2nd, 2016 at 9 pm EST.