HBO’s new show, Westworld, is lighting up the Internet.
It is the quintessential “mystery box” show, where everything is not what it appears to be (think Lost). Theories abound, and recently, an HBO executive apparently teased in a Variety article that some fans are “getting close”.
Originally a 1973 movie of the same name directed and written by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton, Westworld is about a theme park with a cruel twist – human visitors can do whatever they want in a world modelled after the wild, wild West of 19th-century America. And by anything, they mean anything – rape, pillage, kill, torture – after all, the inhabitants of Westworld are just machines. (Or, in Westworld parlance, “hosts”.)
But the human overlords soon discover that the hosts are no longer “just” anything. Something strange is afoot, and the hosts are acting out of order.
The US$100mil (RM418mil) production has lavished funds on realistic sets and an amazing cast, among them Anthony Hopkins, who plays the park’s eccentric and enigmatic boss, Robert Food. But the core of its appeal lies in the nebulous mysteries that cloak the park – fans are doing double time trying to guess the true nature of the park. This is “gold” for TV producers – buzz. But the show’s solid ratings do help a lot too. Some folks have even dubbed Westworld the heir-apparent to Game Of Thrones, which is ending soon.
Luke Hemsworth, who stars as the park’s security expert Ashley Stubbs, joined Asian journalists via a phone call from Los Angeles to answer some questions about Westworld.
But not the questions that are driving the Internet crazy.
“We’re all waiting to get those scripts to find out what’s happening,” he said in attempt to appease us. And even if he knows the truth, he is under orders to keep it top secret. Still, it was nice to watch the show onscreen now as “it all becomes a little bit clearer”, he said.
Well, tease us some more, Hemsworth!
Hemsworth, older brother to Liam (The Hunger Games) and Chris (Thor), said while it was flattering for fans to compare the show to Game Of Thrones, Westworld is very different.
“I guess what they’re comparing to is the obsession that can come from watching a show like this because it asks a lot of questions and it creates a lot of discussion,” he said.
And while it borrows heavily from the 1973 flick, this show has a different premise.
“The original movie was about robots going crazy and doing things to humans that were not very nice. I think this show everts that premise: You have humans not being very nice to robots and I think it’s interesting from the standpoint of the viewer as you are actually caring a lot for the robots and what they’re going through. And that is something that hasn’t been explored,” he said.
Hemsworth originally auditioned for James Marsden’s role (the host, Teddy), but was offered to audition for Stubbs instead. Apparently, the producers liked what they saw and he was soon playing the tough security officer who goes after stray hosts and sleeps with a gun under his pillow.
Stubbs, says Hemsworth, is a man who has “seen it all, been there and done most of it”. And that includes, apparently sawing off an android’s head in one of the episodes.
“It was kinda horrible to saw that head,” Hemsworth said. “You can see me cringing when I do it. That’s really me cringing because it’s not nice! Somehow as an actor you must figure out what it feels like and the truth.”
For Hemsworth, saying yes to be part of a production like this was a no-brainer.
“We’re basically shooting a film every two or three weeks,” he said, adding that the sets are of a “mindboggling scale”.
“I pinch myself because it’s like a dream come true. You get to stand next to these giants, incredible minds, incredible performers and incredibly creatives behind the scenes … it’s a joy to go to work and be surrounded by these people,” he said.
Westworld airs on Mondays at 10am on HBO (Astro Ch 411/431).