Nolan Talks “Westworld” Series Themes

One of the most intriguing new series set to screen this year is HBO’s remake of Michael Crichton’s 1973 feature “Westworld” about a futuristic theme park where visitors interact with lifelike androids who one day fight back.

It’s a familiar story, but series creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy tell EW that by doing it as a much darker and more adult TV series, they get to explore a lot more nuance than the film ever did:

“The glory of doing it as a series is that you get to kind of dance in the little spaces that were left unexplored. In a film, you only have a finite amount of time, and you’re so concerned with saying what happened and making it a gripping short story with a satisfying ending.

But in a TV series, you can really take a novelistic approach and explore characters that you wouldn’t ordinarily see, in a level of complexity that you wouldn’t ordinarily get to explore just out of the sheer time constraints in a feature. I think we’re very much looking forward to taking all those possibilities and exploding out.”

Nolan says the show isn’t just about virtual experiences. The theme park takes into account the rise of games and VR that allow for immersive digital worlds and creates a park that offers a much more physical and tactile experience:

“Here’s the thing: People who come into this place are looking for-and this is the irony of it-the authentic experience. They’re looking for not the virtual version, but the real version, the tactile version. Interestingly we’ve arrived at what [the original film] created-fully immersible virtual worlds.

Look at Grand Theft Auto or any of these wholly imagined open-world video games. They are beautiful. They’re perfectly immersive and brilliant and filled with narrative turns… ‘What happens in Westworld stays in Westworld.’ It’s a place where you can be whoever the f-k you want to be and there are no consequences. No rules, no limitations.”

This also allows for exploring all sorts of themes and anxieties about both human behavior and artificial intelligence. Nolan admits they are all “incredibly excited about it, both on the narrative level and on a cinematic level.”

“Westward” is slated to premiere later this year.