Navigate the maze with a hints, reveals and other surprises from the HBO Westworld Comic-Con panel
Set to return in the spring of next year, Westworld emerged as an immediate hit when its first season premiered on HBO last fall. This year, there was a major turnout for the show’s panel, filling San Diego Convention Center‘s massive Hall H. Moderated by vocal artist, beatboxer, musician and comedian Reggie Watts, the Westworld Comic-Con panel welcomed to the stage creators and showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy alongside stars Ben Barnes (Logan), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Armistice), Ed Harris (Man in Black), Luke Hemsworth (Stubbs), James Marsden (Teddy), Thandie Newton (Maeve), Simon Quarterman (Lee Sizemore), Rodrigo Santoro (Hector), Angela Sarafyan (Clementine), Jimmi Simpson (William), Tessa Thompson (Charlotte), Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores), Shannon Woodward (Elsie) and Jeffrey Wright (Bernard/Arnold).
Culminating in the reveal of the new season two trailer, the Westworld Comic-Con panel offered reflections on season one from many of the key players involved. Nolan and Joy revealed that the new Westworld was originally envisioned by J.J. Abrams to be a feature film.
“What we’re trying to do with the show is slowly reprogram the entire human population,” Nolan joked. “…My perception of reality has changed quite a bit since we started doing the show… I’ve come to the conclusion that we must be in a simulation of some kind. I just did a tequlia shot in a parking lot with Ed Harris at Comic-Con.”
Joy, who is also married to Nolan, recalled the series’ development process, one that had the couple studying modern video games together.
“Jonah used it as a chance to get me to play ‘Red Dead Redemption’ a lot,” she laughed.
“My wife is the only person who obeys the traffic signals in ‘Grand Theft Auto,'” said Nolan.
“I respect the pedestrians!” Joy shot back.
With plenty of twists and turns throughout the first season, the decision was made to, by and large, keep the actors in the dark about where Westworld is headed.
“In a way, it’s like ‘Game of Thrones,'” said Harris. “I don’t know everything going on in that thing, but I like watching it.”
“If we had known anything,” added Newton, “it would have been too much. Our brains would just be scrambled.”
Nolan noted that it was Evan Rachel Wood, primarily, who began to piece together clues on her own while on set. Wood, whose Dolores has emerged as one of the shows most beloved characters, sang the series’ praises.
“It’s so fulfilling, especially as women,” explained the actress. “I don’t know if this is true for men, too but a lot of the time, you can feel like your wings have been clipped and you’re not being represented the way that you want to. This was just like someone had given me f*cking condor wings and I got to just take off and fly. I’m tearing up just talking about it because it’s so important. It’s so important right now.”
“I love how these hosts sometimes represent the best of what humanity is about,” added Marsden. “I recognize that in the relationship between Teddy and Dolores. Sometimes they can be more human than the humans that come to the park.”
Exploring a very different side of humanity, meanwhile, is Newton’s Maeve. Newton herself attempted to cast some doubt on Maeve’s motivations at the end of season one.
“Is she going back for her daughter?” Newton teased the Hall H crowd.
“She better be,” Nolan interjected with a smile. “That’s what we wrote!”
Wright, meanwhile, finally had to chance to speak openly about Bernard’s major season one twist.
“I didn’t know at all what it meant,” the actor explained, revealing that he was alerted about what was going to happen when he started filming the show’s second episode. “I knew it would be an interesting foil to play. But, going through the course of the season and into this season, I’m starting to understand the opportunity there… I’m still learning exactly who Bernard is. Join me!”
As for the future of Westworld, only time will tell what direction the series ultimately takes.
“Season six transitions to a point where the stars are you!” joked Nolan with a tongue-in-cheek claim that the end goal of the series is to open an actual theme park.
And what of the Samurai world glimpses in the season one finale? One fan asked Nolan directly whether or not we’d be seeing more from that side of the park in season two.
“That,” smiled Nolan, “doesn’t look like anything to me.”
Westworld is inspired by the 1973 motion picture Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton. Westworld is produced by Bad Robot Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films in association with Warner Bros. Television. The series is executive produced, written and directed by Jonathan Nolan, executive produced and written by Lisa Joy, and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk.
You can read our full recaps of Westworld season one by clicking here.