Could it be the next “Game of Thrones”? Like HBO’s current signature hit, “Westworld” has a built-in audience (thanks to two well-regarded ’70s franchise films), a literary pedigree (it was conceived by novelist Michael Crichton) and impressive on-screen talent (Oscar winners Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins, as well as James Marsden, Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton).
Set to debut Oct. 2, the show promises to explore “the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin,” telling the tale of a futuristic theme park where tourists are allowed to embrace their most hedonistic and violent desires — until something goes wrong and the robots begin striking back. In the end, it seems, the bad guys won’t always be the ones dressed in black.
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To get us ready for the show, HBO has released a pile of new images. Showcasing the stars and potential plot points, here’s a breakdown of what they reveal.
The man in black
If there’s one lasting image from the ’70s films “Westworld” and “Futureworld,” it’s Yul Brynner dressed in black with a creepy robot stare and gun pointed at the camera.
In those films, he was billed as “Gunslinger,” and Ed Harris’ character in the HBO series is being called “Man in Black.” Looking at Harris’ ensemble, his resemblance to the rogue ringleader robot who masterminds the uprising is striking. But is he a robot? Or one of the villainous guests?
Dolores holds the key
On one side of the battle stands the AI robots, built and trained to believe they are real; on the other, you have the humans who expected to be able to interact with the bots in safety but now find themselves under siege. Somewhere in between is Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), a girl who believes she is living in “the old West,” until the truth is revealed.
The discovery that her entire existence has been an elaborately-constructed lie is further complicated by Teddy Flood (James Marsden), a newly-arrived gunslinger. As the show progresses and further mysteries are uncovered, it will be up to Wood as an actress to capture some very difficult emotional complexities of a being whose emotions were manufactured in a lab.
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William and Logan
Like so many great sci-fi stories, “Westworld” will aim to make the audience feel like we’re visitors to this new reality. Much of that indoctrination will come through the tale of Logan (Ben Barnes) and William (Jimmi Simpson); the former is a veteran Westworld guest who knows the ropes and is eager to show them to his buddy — the latter is reluctant but intrigued by the possibilities of the park.
Ironically enough, it was Ed Harris who was “scripting” the false reality for the title character in the 1998 classic “The Truman Show.” But now, it is Harris himself who is a pawn in the game of Theresa Cullen, the operations leader for Westworld.
It’s her job to make sure that the adult theme park doesn’t slide into uncontrolled chaos, and she’s all business as she plays god to these denizens of the old west. Played by award-winning Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudson, she is not a woman to be trifled with.
In the second picture below, we can see her with Elsie Hughes (played by “Raising Hope” actress Shannon Woodward), who is in charge of programming out the odd behavior sometimes exhibited by the cowboy bots. Something tells us these two women are about to have a lot of work to do.
Check out the gallery below for more photos, and see what additional details you can uncover: