We live in a time of instant gratification. Everybody wants everything NOW! Simply put, delays suck. But occasionally, delays can be good for us. Especially when it comes to high profile movie or TV projects. Too often we’ve seen movies rush headlong to a set release date, rather stumbling over their own feet to meet their schedule commitments than taking their time to do things right. Westworld is apparently doing things right.
For most of it’s production, HBO’s highly anticipated big budget TV series adaptation of Michael Crichton’s classic sci-fi tale about a Western themed cybernetic amusement park run amok, didn’t even have a release date. Hell, for a while they even shut down production completely for a while! But why the delay for such a high profile show? While there are many reasons why they delayed things, star James Marsden reveals in an interview with EW (via /Film) one of the main reasons was so that showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, along with producer JJ Abrams could take the time to really nail down the show’s future. And not the immediate future of the show’s first few episodes, but rather already planning the endgame half a dozen seasons down the line to make sure they know exactly where everything is going.
“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 [showrunner] Jonah [Nolan] 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 [co-showrunner] Lisa [Joy] 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.”
Joy elaborated on this, saying that the complexity and ambition of what they were trying to do, made the delay necessary.
“The show is complicated and ambitious. For the first half of the series we were writing while in production and we needed the time to catch up on scripts. Taking that time allowed us to really finesse all the storylines we set up – deepening character arcs and delving further into the series’ larger mythological questions. It’s a really complex interlocking story. We knew where we wanted to go and we knew exactly how the season ended where the kind of character arcs ended, but weaving those scripts and writing the dialogue for all these brilliant actors, it takes time.”
Marsden reiterated this sentiment, saying that this level of quality storytelling is worth waiting for.
“The greatest work never comes easy and, in my opinion, that’s what we were dealing with. This show is very ambitious and grand in scale and in themes and very expensive with a giant cast. And bigger than all of that is what this show wants to say.”
And of course there was the fact that they had to make up most of this ambitious and grand story on their own. Unlike HBO’s other monster hit, Game of Thrones, which had stacks of George R.R. Martin’s beefy novels to pull from, Westworld was based on a movie that may have been really fun, but was really not that deep, as Nolan explained.
“We would joke that we don’t have George, we don’t have the novels. We have a fantastic original film, but that’s a little under two hours of storytelling. So our joke was we have to write the ‘novels’ first, and then adapt them and then go shoot them.”
But what would these “novels” be about though? Like previously mentioned, Chrichton’s original movie was a pretty simple tale of suspense and sci-fi action. The show though is planning to tackle all kinds of tricky subjects like self-awareness, artificial intelligence, etc. though. And according to Nolan they also not going to half-ass this by just turning this into a quick anthology type story.
“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.”
And we will get to see how all that complexity plays out when Westworld premieres on 2 October. Its star studded cast also includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Tessa Thompson, Rodrigo Santoro, Ben Barnes, Jimmi Simpson, Clifton Collins Jr. and more.
Last Updated: September 12, 2016