The Challenges and Opportunities of Directing Westworld

What door?

The Challenges and Opportunities of DIrecting Westworld_2
Jeffrey Wright in “Trompe L’Oeil”

Director Fred Toye is no stranger to the gigantic task of bringing a script to life. Some of his past directing credits include episodes of Person of Interest, The Good Wife, and even an episode of Fox’s short-lived drama Almost Human, which just so happens to incorporate the element of advanced androids interacting among humans in a not-so-distant future.

It’s no wonder then that Toye was tapped to direct two of the bigger episodes within the first season of Westworld: “The Adversary” (episode six) and “Trompe L’Oeil” (episode seven). Recently, Toye participated in a Q&A to discuss his experiences directing for the Wild West drama, an event that is covered in a new article from The Bottom Line.

While all the storylines within these two episodes are worth revisiting, one in particular that Toye was tasked with orchestrating is Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) journey through his discovery of Dr. Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) secret cabin, and the audience’s subsequent discovery that Bernard is actually a host.

The Challenges and Opportunities of Directing Westworld
Westworld director Fred Toye

Toye admits that time constraints forced him to capture scenes in as little as one take, including the scene in “Trompe L’Oeil” that produced the fan-favorite line ‘what door?’:

“In one shot, the camera had to follow [Bernard] as he walked past an empty wall, then pan back to reveal that there was actually a door leading to the truth of his character’s identity. Toye could have easily ruined the moment with a bad take, but it’s now one of the series’ most memorable scenes, leading up to one of its most shocking plot twists.”

Toye also discusses the professionalism and brilliance of the actors he worked with on the show, including with Wright through the above-mentioned sequence:

“Wright is a great actor who is very open to direction. During the big revelation, Bernard ‘turns off’ or immediately freezes, which was a mannerism Wright worked hard to develop. Toye mentioned that some of the greatest actors will ‘rehearse right in front of you’, which is what Wright did when figuring out how to approach the big reveal of his character.”

They also note that it’s “unclear whether or not he’ll continue working on Westworld, but he seems more than willing to still be a part of the series.”

Toye’s reflections of working with Hopkins and Thandie Newton (Maeve Millay) also provides some interesting insight into both actors’ methods. Do you think Toye’s work on the show has earned him a directing spot in the upcoming season? Let us know!

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