We’re all missing Westeros. The time between Game of Thrones seasons just seems to be getting longer and longer, doesn’t it? Well that’s because factually it is (the new season won’t start until summer 2017). And with the show probably ending in two years with Season 8, now is the time for us to start scouting new series to replace it with.
Okay, so Westworld isn’t exactly Game of Thrones (they’re two pretty completely different series), but we’ve seen an advanced pilot and there are some similarities that may just hook drama addicts out there, looking for their next TV fix. Here are just a few reasons why…
The source material
Thrones is obviously based on the (still uncompleted) series by author George R.R. Martin. Westworld, which revolves around an “amusement park” full of robots designed to look, think and feel like humans, is based on the 1973 film by Michael Crichton. Although the former certainly has more source material to draw on than the latter, there’s a solid foundation for storytelling in place and an established fan-base; two things that always give a new show a leg up in terms of ratings and interest.
“J.J. Abrams actually sat down with Michael Crichton two decades ago. Crichton wanted to talk to him about remaking the original film, and J.J. couldn’t crack it at that point,” explains executive producer Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest, The Dark Knight). Fast forward two decades later, it occurs to J.J. that it’s not a movie. It’s a series, and a key aspect of that is this idea that you take the narrative and you invert it, and you make it about the hosts.”
Controversial subject matter
Remember the pilot of Game of Thrones and how shocking it was when Jamie and Cersei Lannister made out right before pushing Bran off the ledge? There’s a similar (but bloodier) scene in the premiere of Westworld that will make everyone just as uncomfortable. We don’t want to give anything away, but it will be pretty controversial.
“This is an examination of human nature, the best parts of human nature. We explore paternal love, romantic love. Finding of one’s self. But also the basest part of human nature. And that includes violence, it includes sexual violence,” fellow producer Lisa Joy says. “Violence and sexual violence have sadly been a fact of human history since the beginning of human history. When we were tackling the project about a park in which the premise is you can come there and do whatever you want, whatever desire you have with impunity, without consequence, it seemed like it was an issue that we had to address.”
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
When Thrones first started everyone was curios to see how former Lord of The Rings star Sean Bean would fare as Ned Stark. Well we all know how that turned out, but the point is that Bean was someone to draw audiences in. In Westworld, the producers are banking on the star power of one Sir Anthony Hopkins, a.k.a. the scariest Hannibal Lecter player out there to date. Luckily, even though he’s just as creepy in this role, Hopkins finds nothing relatable to either one of those dudes in real life.
“I don’t get into the head space of a character I’m supposed to be playing. It’s all I seem to be cast over the years as a control freak. I don’t know why, because I’m not that at all,” he says. “I hope not. I have a kind of diffident attitude about things, which has come with age, I guess, over the years.”
So who else can we expect to see in Westworld? Well Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden, among others.
Big world building
Part of the fun of Game of Thrones is that you never really know which world we’re going to explore next. With so many cities and pockets constantly popping up on that map, it’s like an adventure every week. Well there are three very distinct worlds to build up on Westworld, too. There’s the park, in which “hosts” (a.k.a. the robots) unknowingly relive each day over and over again. Then there’s the world of the park from the participants’ point of view, which can get pretty bloody as they live out their darkest fantasies. And then there’s the creationist world — the place where the scientists and technicians congregate to make the entire park possible. It all adds up to some serious world-building indeed.
“Who says there is an outside world? Certainly for us producers there hasn’t been anything but Westworld,” Nolan explains. “That’s really one of the aspects of the story we want to ground through the course of the first season, that all of the characters come into this sandbox like environment to play without consequence, and we’re getting artifacts, little pieces of information along the way from all the different characters, and our hosts are taking on some of those pieces, trying to understand what is out there. What, if, anything is out there? Where are these people coming from? How is this hierarchy established, and what’s their part in it?”
We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out.