‘Westworld’ Stars, Producers Talk Season 1 Secrets and Surprises at PaleyFest

westworld paleyfest

HBO seems to be making a habit of creating shows that pull you in, take over your thoughts, and leave you wanting more… and Westworld is no exception. The twists and turns of this sci-fi western make for perfect binge-watching material, and they certainly keep you guessing – even if you’re on the show.

The cast and creators of the addictive show revealed Season 1 secrets – including the fact that the actors didn’t know whether they were playing humans or robots until they absolutely had to – during Westworld‘s PaleyFest panel at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday. Show creators and co-showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy joined stars Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores), Ed Harris (Man in Black), Thandie Newton (Maeve), James Marsden (Teddy), Jimmi Simpson (William), and Executive Producer Roberto Patino to talk spoilers, surprises, and Simpson’s eyebrows.

Here are the highlights from what we learned at the Westworld panel.

Warning: Here there be spoilers.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 25: Cast and creatives of Wesworld at PaleyFest LA 2017 honoring Westworld, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the DOLBY THEATRE on March 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. © Michael Bulbenko for the Paley Center




We viewers weren’t the only ones in the dark – even for that twist.

This show has no shortage of surprises, from character deaths to time jumps to whether certain characters are human or host. But perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that William (Simpson) and the Man in Black (Harris) – who we came to know as perhaps the most heroic and most villainous characters in the park, respectively – were one and the same. We theorized and we binge-watched, and the twists made for mind-blowing television – but it turns out the cast was in the dark for much of production, too. In fact, Harris and Simpson didn’t even know that they were playing the same guy.

“I walked by my trailer and someone told me that Jimmi (Simpson) was the guy playing the younger me and I was like, ‘What?’” said Harris.

Simpson grew suspicious after the makeup artist pulled him aside in the middle of the day to look at his eyebrows. “I was walking to lunch and Lisa [Joy] was walking down the lane and I started thinking, ‘If they want to change the look of my face they must want me to look like someone else. So who could I possibly look like in this cast? And this man [Harris] was the only person I settled on.” When Jimmi ran his theory by Lisa, she responded, “I don’t know. Don’t tell Jonah.” Now that’s what we call a poker face.

The ladies of the cast are badass on-screen and off.

Okay, we already knew that. But the panel really drove home the fact that the ladies of Westworld – the main two being Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton – are seriously awesome. Wood called Dolores her “favorite role [she’s] ever played” – and it’s one in which she’s definitely killing it.

Thandie Newton also spoke to her character’s strengths in one of the standout moments of the night, addressing the show’s violence against women and her frequent nude scenes. As an activist combating violence against women, she was apprehensive about playing Maeve – the madam of a brothel – and potentially gratuitous violence and nudity… until she learned what Nolan and Joy actually had planned for her character.

“Here we are right now at a crossroads, and I think Westworld, for me anyway, is part of the solution, not the problem,” Newton said. “With so many of the roles I’ve played—[speaking about] roles for women—it’s tough out there, and very often I feel like I have to put my activism behind. I have to just be the actor, do what I have to do, but [on Westworld], I was an activist every single day I went to work. I felt part of the solution every single day.”

Expect more eerie player piano covers of songs you love.

There’s so much to love about this show, but one of its most intriguing aspects is the music. The soundtrack features amazingly eerie player piano covers of everything from “Black Hole Sun” to “Paint It Black.” Though Nolan and Joy wouldn’t reveal too much about what’s up their sleeves for Season 2, they did confirm that we can expect the covers trend to continue.

“At home, we have a little girl, so we spend a lot of time watching children’s movies, and one of them has proven to be, musically, incredibly inspiring,” Joy teased. “So there may be a strange shoutout to a very kind of innocently joyful song, that we’ll take, and co-opt, and make dark.”

westworld paleyfest
HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 25 (L-R): Jimmi Simpson and Evan Rachel Wood at PaleyFest LA 2017 honoring Westworld, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the DOLBY THEATRE on March 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. © Michael Bulbenko for the Paley Center

Don’t expect to see Ed Harris in a samurai suit.

Even as our minds were reeling from the reveal that William = the Man in Black during the finale, we were also freaking out about the reveal that Westworld isn’t the only Delos park in existence. The episode teased a samurai world, leading us to believe that there’s probably more where that came from.

Though the moderator and fans alike tried to get the panel to reveal whether we’ll see some of these other worlds in Season 2, they played coy. “That would be fun, wouldn’t it?” Nolan said.

One thing you shouldn’t expect to see? Ed Harris wearing a samurai suit. “It’s ‘Man in Black,’ not ‘Man in a Samurai suit,’” he joked. “Samurais don’t wear hats.”

Westworld Season 2 is expected to hit HBO in 2018.

Featured Image: © Imeh Bryant for the Paley Center



Chloe Palka

Senior Editor

Fangirl, avid reader, & Anglophile. Current obsessions include: Dylan O’Brien, Teen Wolf, Game of Thrones, brunch, SDCC, and gingerbread lattes. Not a queen, a Khaleesi. Contact: chloe@fangirlish.com.

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