The Westworld premiere definitely whet our appetites for season two, giving us an intriguing look at the aftermath of the gala massacre and raising new questions. What is Delos planning? Will Bernard get his memory back? Seriously, where the heck is Elsie?! Unfortunately we don’t have the answers – but we do have plenty of interviews and videos to share, so let’s dig in!
If you were paying attention during the opening credits, you noticed the title sequence has been altered. We still have composer Ramin Djawadi‘s amazing score, but showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy wanted to change up the visuals for season two and enlisted the help of Antibody production studio. Antibody’s creative director, Patrick Clair, recently spoke to Vulture about that decision.
“I’ve always been wary of season twos…I feel like there’s not a lot of value in making some aesthetic changes for the sake of it,” Clair admits. After speaking with Nolan and Joy, however, he gained a better understanding of their plan. They wanted update the visuals to match the theme of this season while still “hitting the same emotional beats and using the same music with very similar structure.”
Clair discusses some of the changes we see in the new version. “You have some very obvious swap outs, like the horse has become the buffalo,” which serves as “a tragic symbol of the west.” He explains, “There were millions of them, and the westward expansion, by the time they were done, they were almost all gone. So as a metaphor for our hosts, the idea of a life form that’s supposed to share the west with human beings, and the humans weren’t terribly keen on keeping that dynamic alive, I thought it was a perfect addition.”
What about the black hat which is featured so prominently? “As for the Man in Black’s hat, it’s become an icon of a certain thread of the show. The chance to include it in such a way where it’s tragically falling into the abyss and use this eclipse-like imagery of it, we thought was a cool way to end the sequence,” Clair says. Is this foreshadowing William’s death, or perhaps a rejection of his evil nature? Only time will tell.
Read the rest here.
One of the more interesting developments this season is Bernard’s cognitive damage, and the effect it has on his memories. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Jonathan Nolan discusses how the hosts process information, and what this might mean for Bernard (Jeffrey Wright).
“In the first season, we were playing cards down with the way that the hosts’ memory works, which is to say, through the first season, we are not aware that Dolores is actually remembering things and mistaking them for reality,” he explains. “One of the things we were excited for in the second season was now playing cards up with the idea that hosts mistake their realities for their memories, get lost in time, bounce back and forth.”
Nolan seems to suggest we may not be able to trust what we see through Bernard’s point of view. “Bernard’s awareness of what happened and the fact that he doesn’t seem to remember a lot of what happened [after Ford’s death] is something that we’d like to play within this season.” Nolan adds, “Jeffrey’s a lovely person, but Bernard is a bit of an unreliable narrator in the second season.”
Check out the entire interview.
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is now fully conscious and ready to give humans a taste of their own medicine. Wood shares her thoughts about her character’s new role with Entertainment Weekly, saying, “I’ve been completely desensitized to blood and dead bodies. So you can expect a lot of carnage.” The level of violence isn’t the only new challenge for Wood, however. “[Dolores is] multifaceted now…What’s fun about the character this time around is she’s in control of what character she slips in and out of. So she has elements of Dolores and Wyatt, and there’s this new thing brewing which is just her — a combination of everything together. It’s challenging for me to play to be all these different layers of herself.”
What is Dolores’ main goal this season? “She’s trying to get out of the park. But I think she has much bigger ideas that go beyond getting out of the park that I’m not privy to yet. She’s certainly on a mission for something specific, but I don’t know what that is.” Wood also says Dolores will be enlisting the help of other hosts – or rather, coercing them. “Some of them are more awake than others. There’s an array of consciousness going on. I think because she has access to all her knowledge now, she knows what to say to manipulate them to get what she wants. She’s playing chess master.”
We saw very little interaction with Dolores and Bernard in season one, but that is set to change – although they may not get along as well as Dolores and Arnold. “Dolores and Bernard … there’s a lot going on there. For a number of reasons. I haven’t really had any scenes with Bernard…I had a lot with Arnold,” Wood explains. “It really hit me when I had my first scene with [Jeffrey Wright] as Bernard and I looked at him afterward and went, ‘Oh my God, you’re a genius! That’s a completely different character.’ It’s so subtle, but it’s so apparent to me that he wasn’t the same person. I had a whole new appreciation for him. But their relationship is quite complicated.”
For more, head to EW.
We got to see quite a bit more of Lee Sizemore in the premiere than we are used to, and Simon Quarterman is completely okay with that. He tells Vulture that baring it all was unexpectedly freeing. “It’s not often that we see a man naked. It’s a rare thing. Women have to reveal a lot all the time, and it felt so in keeping with what we were doing with the themes and with the tables being turned…I found it incredibly powerful, actually.”
Quarterman was a bit apprehensive about seeing himself onscreen, saying, “I was really concerned about that moment. As you can imagine, you’re sitting in an auditorium full of a bunch of people. You know it’s coming up and you’ve built yourself up to this. And it’s coming, I’m about to get naked in front of everyone here.” He confesses that once it was over, he felt good about it. “Can’t go back, can’t hide that anymore. It is just a body. I mean, we’ve all got one. It’s very liberating.”
That moment of being forced to experience what a host might feel could have a strong impact on Sizemore. “For Lee, it’s about the breaking down of this egoic construct and chipping away at the rules of that. The stripping down of it. Maybe there’s something lurking underneath.” His interactions with Maeve (Thandie Newton) will likely make him reevaluate his attitude toward the hosts, as Quarterman explains, “The characters have such an interesting niche. There’s so much disdain for these hosts, because [Lee] doesn’t give a shit about any of them. And then you’ve got this sentient being that’s growing by the moment in front of him. It’s forcing him to look at parts of himself that he’s never really even thought of looking at.”
Read the full interview here.
The premiere also featured the return of Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), although we still don’t know how he escaped Ghost Nation. Of course, it’s not only the audience that’s kept in the dark, but the actors as well. Hemsworth discusses the secretive nature of Westworld with Collider, saying, “They’re pretty consistent with drip feeding you the information and telling you nothing. They told us nothing this season. That’s part of the surrender. You know that they’re doing things on purpose, and you can ask Jonah [Nolan] and Lisa [Joy] questions, all day long, but they’ll skirt around and change the subject.”
If the actors know little, the characters know less – at least in Hemsworth’s case. “I know my character definitely knows less than I do. Poor little Stubbs. He’s constantly peeking over people’s shoulders and saying, ‘Hey, what’s happening? Can I be in this conversation?’ It’s good fun.” He adds, “Stubbs is always just one step behind. But, I can’t say how it affects my arc.”
One thing Hemsworth can say is that we will learn a bit more of Stubbs’ backstory this season. “Who does Stubbs actually work for? Who does he owe his allegiance to? What is this Delos Corporation? Who does he call, at the end of the day? So, yeah, we do delve deeply into that.”
Head over to Collider for the rest.
Unfortunately we haven’t seen young William yet this season, but we do know he’ll be back. In an interview with TheWrap, Jimmi Simpson suggests we will see more of William’s evolution into the Man in Black (Ed Harris), as he had to work harder at mimicking Harris’ behavior. “Quite a bit more, as the two characters start to get closer together to be that one man. And Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan, the creators, they have been — they kind of facilitate everything you need. So, they gave me some ‘extra Ed’ to get into,” Simpson explains. “And they are always ahead of me. Normally I’m the one preparing by myself and these two are like, ‘Here are your study materials.'”
Simpson declines to give too many details however, citing the importance of secrecy for the series. “When you start on a show like Westworld…you sign an NDA, and it’s just the fear of the gods that makes you keep your mouth absolutely shut…As we all got to know Lisa and Jonah, we realized what they were withholding was benefiting us as actors.” He adds, “Ultimately the feeling was ‘These are our orchestrators, and everything they’re doing is for a reason,’ and then you get behind it and happily don’t want to know stuff until you’re supposed to know it.”
Watch the interview below.
The premiere also introduced us to the creepy drone hosts, who function as worker bees in a hidden underground lab. In a new “Inside the Episode” video, showrunners Nolan and Joy – along with Production Designer Howard Cummings, VFX Supervisor Bruce Branit, and Kevin Kirkpatrick and Justin Raleigh from Special Effects Make-Up – share their vision for these characters and how they were brought to life.
In case you missed it, check out a sneak peek of future Westworld episodes here: