1973 sci-fi western/thriller Westworld is the inspiration for HBO’s latest big-budget series of the same name. It’s a huge, philosophical drama set in a theme-park where humans can go on immersive holidays in a wild west inhabited by realistic androids. In America it comes to HBO on October 2, and it also comes to Sky Atlantic in October – here’s why it’s going to be your new favourite show.
1. Jonathan Nolan, co-writer of Interstellar and The Dark Knight, helped create the show
Nolan, brother of director Christopher, is behind some of the best sci-fi and action films of the last decade. But he also wrote Memento Mori, the short story Memento was based on, so he’s got complex, clever plotting down too. Burn Notice writer and producer Lisa Joy (also Nolan’s wife) created the show with him.
2. Sci-fi genius JJ Abrams is involved
As executive producer, Abrams will have brought the same big-picture nous that made such successes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek and Lost.
3. It’s based on a classic sci-fi western thriller by the writer of Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park was about an ill-fated theme-park with dinosaurs; Westworld is about an ill-fated theme park with robots. If it ain’t broke…
4. It’s not a remake
The original focused on a human lost in Westworld when the AI robot hosts started breaking and going rogue. In the new series, we focus on the hosts instead. As Nolan has explained, the series is about “the hosts, and their limited understanding of what this world is.” When they find out, they’re probably gonna be mad.
5. It’s full of talent
Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, James Marsden, Luke Hemsworth and Jeffrey Wright are just a few of the big names in the series.
6. It asks big questions
Co-creator Lisa Joy has said the idea of the show is “to explore what it means to be human from the outside in – through the eyes of the ‘hosts’: the lifelike AI characters that are the main attractions of the park. It’s a meditation on consciousness – the blessing and the burden of it.”
Joy has explained that the show will also contain sexual violence, but that it will be nuanced: “Violence, specifically sexual violence, have sadly been a fact of human history since the beginning of time. We take it very seriously and it’s not about the fetishisation of those acts. Rather, [it’s about] exploring the crime — hopefully with dignity and depth.”
It’s about knowing yourself, says Nolan. “We wanted to pose the question: If you could be completely immersed in a fantasy, one in which you could do whatever you wanted, would you discover things about yourself that you didn’t want to know?”
7. It has a great soundtrack
You’ll hear Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’ in the show, among others. Nolan says of his sibling and collaborator Christopher Nolan, “my brother never wants to put this kind of music in his movies, so I have this pent-up appetite to do it.” Sounds like it could be as good as Peaky Blinders‘ soundtrack.