“I don’t know if you all know this or have read this somewhere in the news, but we had a few delays in production,” HBO head of programming Casey Bloys joked before the screening of “Westworld” in the TCL Chinese Theatre Wednesday night.
While the highly anticipated sci-fi series has had its fair share of production hardships and pushed back its premiere date by months, Bloys assured that the network betting big with the star-filled drama, which lured Hollywood household names Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden, would be well worth the wait to HBO subscribers in premature mourning of “Game of Thrones” ending in two seasons.
“I think it’s visually really cinematic on scope and scale, and I think that’s great and entertaining, but I think it also raises larger issues on humanity,” Bloys said of the new endeavor. “And that combination has always worked for us.”
The one-hour drama, inspired by the 1973 film by “Jurassic Park” writer Michael Crichton, explores a futuristic society where humans are entertained by their realistic encounters with androids in a theme park. Like “Thrones” the fantasy world has both nudity and violence, but star Thandie Newton – who surprisingly revealed that she’s never seen an episode of the Emmy-winning series – affirms that the older show’s past controversy about its depiction of violence shouldn’t be an issue for “Westworld.”
“I don’t know if the people think it’s mistreatment [of women] because they’re not people, they’re robots,” Newton said of the show’s violence. “The value on our behavior is of critical importance right now. I mean look, the word ‘humane’ is supposed to depict the most responsible and decent behavior, but we’re not so we shouldn’t be using ourselves as a description of decency because that’s not what we maintain.”
With eminent writing from co-creators and writers Lisa Joy Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, even the show’s tagline “Every hero has a code” is a double entendre.
“It’s a play on the idea that there is the moral code and then in a hero’s story and in our story it’s the idea that heroes are coded. They are artificially intelligent beings,” Lisa revealed.
The married duo made the series their first collaboration after exec producer J. J. Abrams met with Crichton two decades prior to approaching him for a film remake. While many stars on the carpet shared that the story’s social commentary drew them to the original film, Jonathan revealed that his execution of the series was to pose more questions than answers.
“For me, it’s not the question of trying to make a point as so much as question,” said Nolan. “We implore violence around us and seem to seek it out in the entertainment that we watch and shows that feature violence, even if it’s synthetic violence, and the appetites of the guests coming to this park, why they’re coming to this park is something we wanted to explore.”
The celebration of the screening flowed across the street at the Roosevelt Hotel, where guests ate and played poker in Old West saloon-themed rooms. DJ Daisy O’Dell spun tunes as servers wore lab coats amidst floating android body parts being displayed in the foyer.