Launched in 2016 to critical acclaim, HBO’s Westworld did not become the network’s successor, game of thrones, as originally planned. Based on the 1973 film of the same name and directed by Michael Crichton, Westworld is a mix of different genres (including western, sci-fi and dystopian futurism).
Launched to huge viewers on HBO, the series waned in popularity over time as audiences grew frustrated with the show‘s convoluted narrative, interconnected timelines, and characterizations. Although the show hasn’t entered the pop culture stratosphere like other HBO shows like game of thrones Where Euphoria have, there’s still plenty to admire and enjoy in this thought-provoking series that examines what it really means to be human.
Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are married
While Westworld as a concept was created by jurassic park author Michael Crichton for his 1973 film, the current series is the brainchild of Jonathan Nolan (Christopher Nolan’s brother and longtime creative partner) and Lisa Joy. What many people may not know is the fact that the creative couple are actually married.
Meet Christopher Nolan’s Red Carpet Memento (via The Guardian), the couple married in 2009 and have two children together. Westworld is the first project where the two have worked together creatively.
More Blade Runner, less Westworld
Michael Crichton from 1973 Westworld the film is not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. Although it spawned a sequel and a TV series, the film isn’t an influential sci-fi classic in the way that Extraterrestrial, 2001: A Space OdysseyWhere Quiet operation. When it came to adapting the series for HBO, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy turned to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner for inspiration to bring Android hosts to life.
Inspiration and allusions to blade runner in Westworld are clear to see. The sympathetic treatment of android hosts and their relationship with their creator is highly indebted to the world of blade runner. Furthermore, the pre-eminence of the eye in the opening theme of Westworld is also something blade runner emphasizes in its exploration of the relationship between humans and replicants.
There were plans for a movie reboot before the Westworld series arrived
Reboots are nothing new in Hollywood and have become more prominent in recent years as recognizable IP projects have taken over from the originals. Westworld is an example of a reboot that fundamentally changes the original film’s premise and rationale by turning a sci-fi western about a whacked amusement park into an existential drama about what it means to be human. However, a simpler situation could have happened in the early 2000s, with Arnold Schwarzenegger ready to play.
At the time of Arnold’s return to terminator franchisee in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machineshe was signed on to star in a reboot of the 1973 Michael Crichton film. Speaking of the unrealized project, Arnold said, “I loved the original film when I saw it in 1973 and wanted it redo for several years” (via Variety). That remake would never happen, and the project would sit in limbo for over a decade until Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy signed on to revitalize it in 2013.
The Man in Black could have been played by Clint Eastwood
It’s no secret that the world of Westworld owes much to the John Wayne and Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s. The visual language and style of Westworld is built on the legacy of those classic westerns. If the wishes of Westworld producers had arrived, the bond between the two could have been cemented even more by the inclusion of Clint Eastwood as The Man in Black.
Appearing in season one and all subsequent seasons, The Man in Black (portrayed by Ed Harris) is one of the show’s most ruthless characters. Donning Yul Brynner’s signature Gunslinger outfit in the 1973 original, Harris’ character is a twisted inversion of the classic cowboy persona archetype, which might explain why Eastwood passed on the role. Eastwood has long been known as the quintessential western hero, starring in some of the best westerns ever made. Subvert this heritage by Westworld maybe wasn’t something Eastwood wanted to explore.
The galloping horse in the opening is a reference to the origin of motion pictures
Westworld pays homage to the history of cinema in different ways. References to movies like blade runner, The Magnificent Seven, and 1960s spaghetti westerns are evident everywhere. However, one cinematic reference that may have escaped moviegoers is the galloping horse in the opening credits.
Eadweard Muybridge The horse in motion (1878) is a series of photographs of a horse used to depict the action of movement. Widely called “the first movie of all time” (via 3000 Facts About TV Shows) its inclusion in by Westworld opening theme draws attention to the artifice and history of cinematic language, which Westworld pulls heavily.
Eion Bailey was originally cast as Logan, but dropped out
Best known for his role as August in Once upon a timeEion Bailey was originally cast in one of the lead roles in by Westworld first season. Bailey was set to play Logan, William’s hedonistic and indulgent brother-in-law. However, shortly after being announced as part of the cast, he abruptly dropped out.
No reason other than a scheduling conflict was given as the reason for the actor’s departure (via EO), but given that the gap between her casting and her departure from the show was just over a week, it seems like something else behind the scenes happened. Logan would go on to be played by Punisher starred Ben Barnes.
Video game inspiration
While Westworld owes a huge debt to the history and tradition of cinema, it is also heavily influenced by the video game medium. The open-world nature of the Westworld theme park, its roster of colorful NPCs, and its host narratives owe a great debt to some of the best modern open-world video games. It’s something show creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have openly acknowledged.
In an interview at New York Comic-Con (via Vulture), the pair highlighted games, like Red Dead Redemption and Bioshock Infinite, strongly inspired the world of Westworld. Bioshock Infinitein particular, had a great influence on Jonathan Nolan, who actually met Bioshock creator Ken Levine and discussed non-player character aspects with him.
The iconic opening was created by the same team that created the Game of Thrones opening
One of the most visually stunning and eye-catching parts of Westworld is its signature opening. Set to music by the incredible talent of Ramin Djawadi, the overture to Westworld visually depicts many of the show’s themes. Changing with each season of the show, the openness is key to our understanding of the show.
By creating an iconic opening for WestworldHBO enlisted the help of Elastic, the same company responsible for the epic opening of game of thrones (via vanity lounge). Creative director Patrick Clair also worked on the opening themes for the HBO show. real detective and daredevil.
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