WestworldFrom left: Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Lisa Joy, Jonathan Nolan, Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood.
WestworldFrom left: Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Lisa Joy, Jonathan Nolan, Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood.


After the Revolution, Comes Choice

By Marissa Blanchard


Gathering for a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, the park’s main players: executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and cast members Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and James Marsden, dug into the end of Season 1, and teased what’s to come in the season ahead –– which TIME has already declared an “era-defining smash.”

Here’s what they had to say during a panel, moderated by The Atlantic’s Christopher Orr, following the Season 2 premiere, “Journey Into Night.” (Season 1 finale spoilers ahead).

Lisa Joy loves to keep fans guessing.

“The first season ended in something we were really rooting for: revolution,” said Joy, reflecting on the Season 1 finale, “The Bicameral Mind.” The episode, which Joy co-wrote with husband Jonathan Nolan, ends with Dolores channeling her alter-narrative, Wyatt, and killing Westworld founder Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), sending the park into pandemonium. “The second season will be a little harder for audiences to know where we are going,” she continued. “But that’s half the fun.”

WestworldFrom Left: Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton.

Thandie Newton wanted Maeve to leave the park behind.

At the end of Season 1, Maeve nearly escapes Westworld, but decides to stay and find her daughter, who was murdered by The Man in Black in a different narrative. “I wanted her to get out of there so desperately,” said Newton while acknowledging Maeve’s inner turmoil in deciding to return to the chaos. “It’s not as simple as going back into the park,” she asserted. “Her liberation is a disaster.”

Acting as both Dolores and Wyatt was tough.

Dolores took on the Wyatt narrative — which was programmed by Ford’s late partner and Bernard doppelganger, Arnold — with an act of defiance: executing the park founder and gunning down the Delos board. “We made different rules for her depending on what situation she’s in,” said Evan Rachel Wood about her dual roles. She explained how Nolan’s and Joy’s direction helped her portray dueling identities: “It was trial and error and then we found this groove, but it was definitely a challenge.”

WestworldFrom Left: James Marsden and Jeffrey Wright.

Jeffrey Wright is just as confused as Bernard.

Given the multiple timelines in the series, the cast films scenes out of sequence. “I focus on the moment, which, in some ways, is what Bernard is going through,” said Wright. “There’s the most granular understanding of his existence and struggling with orientation with time and place.”

Season 2 is about choice.

When it comes to the themes of new season, James Marsden acknowledged the hosts will be grappling with a new concept: “This is someone who’s being born into their consciousness and gaining sentience, and for the first time he has the power of choice,” said Marsden of his unfailingly appeasing, Teddy. “It’s interesting to see without that programming, who he decides to be.”

Season 2 of Westworld premieres April 22 at 9 pm.

Return to Westworld

Executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, along with the cast, share what it's like stepping back onto the set of Westworld, where a new narrative is unfolding.