SXSW 18: Westworld Panel Gives Everyone a Big Surprise

Westworld/ HBO

HBO’s Westworld season one was the breakout series of the year last year. It set the bar high for season two. It’s been over a year since the first season aired and fans cannot wait to feast their eyes on this year’s new season! Show runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy along with cast member. Evan Rachel Wood (Delores), Thandie Newton (Maeve), James Marsden (Teddy) and Jeffrey Wright (Bernard) all joined in on the discussion on what it’s like to be a part of Westworld and what it means to them.

When the cast was asked about how they felt about coming back to film season two, Thandie Newton spoke up with a resounding, “I couldn’t fucking wait to come back! I love Maeve so much! I couldn’t wait to be her again.” Evan Rachel Wood said it as like waiting for Christmas, but also this overwhelming sense of dread because nothing ever good happens in the show. Jeffrey Wright said, “ We were all so excited to come back but we are always left in the dark about what is going to happen. In fact we just cam here today just so we could see clips of season two!”

Show runners Nolan and Joy surprised the crowd with a sneak peak at season two and it was nothing short of amazing. If you thought Sweet Water was insane and fucked up, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t hold a candle to what is in store for season two. I won’t spoil anything here, but I seriously had goose bumps when it was over. Jonathan Nolan talked about how they originally envisioned Westworld, “ When we started writing for the show we thought of each season as a theatrical event. Each season being able to stand on it’s own. Westworld has so many layers that it is easy to do.” Lisa Joy added, “We did have a blue print. There is a lot of mystery in season one but season two it’s almost it’s own journey with the characters evolving from season to season. It really is a pleasure to writing to these actors because they are geniuses. This new season will show the identities that the characters choose for themselves and that is really exciting.”

Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood were asked how it felt to play such strong lead women roles. Newton, “ It feels FUCKING normal!” Wood Chimed in with, “ Yeah I mean it’s nice to not feel confined and honestly being given the freedom to play Dolores has really transformed me as a person.” Newton expanded on her answer by saying, “ I have been working in film and television for 30 years and there are always men that feel threatened by strong female leads but that is not the case with this show. We one hundred percent all respect and take care of one another. It’s really nice and the men in this show should really be given credit for that.” James Marsden added, “ I agree we really are family. There is no power dynamic, just this sheer joy to go to work together every day. It’s really special.”

Westworld/ HBO

Other than the movie, the actors were asked who inspired them while playing their characters. Thandie Newton does human rights work in the Congo working with women who have been victims of rape which is used as a war tool. “ They are raped over and over again and they die over and over again, yet they get up every day and keep living. These women are my friends and they are real people living on this planet right now.” It was super powerful to listen to her speak about something so passionate. Honestly it was easy to see why she is connected to Maeve as a character. Thandie Newton pulls from a real place to be her.

Side Note: If you are interested in the world Thandie Newton does in the Congo you can visit www.vday.org for more information.

Westworld wouldn’t be Westward without it’s bad ass soundtrack. Jonathan Nolan was asked about the philosophy behind the music. “ I don’t if it was so much of a philosophy than it was just playing shit that we really like. We wanted to take songs from Radiohead and other contemporary bands we like and contrast it with a player piano. There was something romantic in using the player piano, the first robot of the west. We really wanted to create ear worms. We wanted viewers to stop and think, “Wait I know that song.” So it just seemed like a really good fit.”

In this day in age it is really hard to keep show secrets. It seems That Nolan and Joy have put thing in place to try to keep those secrets. Lisa Joy said, “ You know I don’t know how much the fans effect the way the show goes. I mean especially for the first season because we had already written it. You will always have fan theories but for us they are just theories.” Nolan added, “ Of course we want to keep the shows secrets and we have some knew thing in place to hopefully help that. But we love fan theories and to see such enthusiasm for the show. Especially the fan art. When we get to see other creative things happening based on a show that we are doing it’s really great to see.”

The panel was asked how they felt about technology and A.I. Nolan said, “ Well honestly I think we would be lucky if the A.I. Apocalypse was as charming as Westworld. But you don’t need a smart version of A.I. to create chaos like manipulating Facebook or twitter, you just need intent.” Evan Rachel Wood said, “ The one thing I really love about the show is that it makes us ask questions about technology and question everything in our every day life.”

The panel ended with a huge surprise announced by Jonathan Nolan. He welcomed Elon Musk to the stage and everyone quite literally lost it! He ended the panel by saying, “ It’s important to expand the scope of the human consciousness. We need to be the change to make humanity better and to make our planet better. Being a part of all of this makes me really excited!”

Westworld Season 2 premieres April 22, 2018 on HBO

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