“Westworld” showrunner Jonathan Nolan acknowledges that his HBO sci fi Western thriller is not “an incredibly optimistic show.” But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to inspire people and get them talking. And that he did at the SXSW panel for his series Saturday when he brought out his friend, Elon Musk.
“There are a lot of negative things in the world — a lot of terrible things happening all the time, lots of problems that need to get solved — but life cannot just be about solving one miserable problem after another. There needs to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity,” Musk addressed the Austin, Texas crowd.
While Nolan noted that he often laments the fact that his grandparents’ generation was the one to travel to the moon and sometimes it can seem like there have been few similar achievements since, Musk’s recent SpaceX launch is something that fits into the “inspire” and “create conversation” model he holds in high regard.
“Earth is the cradle of humanity, but you cannot stay in the cradle forever,” Musk said, quoting Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky, one of the first prominent Russian rocket scientists. “I find that incredibly exciting. That makes me excited to be alive, and I hope you all feel the same way.”
Nolan, who was at ground control with Musk during the SpaceX launch, wanted to express how he felt “the only way he knew how,” and ended the panel with three-minutes of footage that was captured that day.
“Obviously, we’ve got a lot of problems on this planet, but one of the beautiful things about space flight is that it’s all of us working together. And we were trying to think of an image, something to shock people, and what we came up with was a red sports car and a David Bowie song,” Nolan said.
The images ranged from the awestruck crowds, to the rocket launching out of Earth’s atmosphere, to the car floating freely in space — all set to Bowie’s eponymous “Life On Mars.”
It was certainly not how anyone would have possibly guessed that the panel on “Westworld” would have ended, but like the show itself, it was a panel filled with unexpected plot twists.