5 Mind-Bending Insights From the Westworld DVD Extras
By Olivia Armstrong
Season 1 of Westworld is now available on DVD and, like the park itself, contains some surprises. Exclusive bonus content reveals the unexpected ways the carefully-crafted series came to fruition.
In addition to the show’s first 10 episodes, the DVD offers exclusive video extras that include commentary from co-creators and executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, executive producer J.J. Abrams, actors Evan Rachel Wood (“Dolores Abernathy”), Jeffrey Wright (“Bernard Lowe”), Thandie Newton (“Maeve Millay”), Rodrigo Santoro (“Hector Escaton”), and James Marsden (“Teddy Flood”); as well as composer Ramin Djawadi (who’s also behind the music of Game of Thrones). Their collective insight will surprise even the biggest superfan, and shed light on how the luxury theme park comes to fruition behind the scenes. Here are just a few things we learned:
The opening titles’ music is one giant metaphor.
“It starts with the violin and then the piano answers,” explains composer Ramin Djawadi when describing the music heard in Westworld’s opening title sequence. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy also believe in the relationship between the instruments. “Almost like a creator teaching their creation to mimic their behavior, at a certain point, the music takes over,” describes Nolan.
Player pianos were robots before robots were cool.
Though crafted in the late 19th century, player pianos were constructed to be self-operational and produce sound based on sheet music that looks like binary code. In extra “Key to the Chords,” Djawadi reveals how he crafts the instrumental music of the show (and comes up with those unexpected piano covers). “Taking a song that has a full band arrangement and putting it on basic piano — it really strips it down to its core elements and you can make it fit into [Westworld’s] time period,” says Djawadi. “There’s a direct lineage between the player piano and our hosts,” adds Jonathan Nolan. “[It’s] their great, great granddaddy.”
The park had to be as perfect as the technology.
In the exclusive “Realizing the Dream: First Week on the Set of Westworld,” — a deep dive into the show’s locations, costumes and production design — Lisa Joy asserts that if Westworld were a real-life destination, the park would have to live up to the near-perfect technology that fuels it. “The guests wouldn’t just come to see these hosts,” she explains. “They’re also coming for the world itself, so it would have to be similarly as impressive, perfect and unique.”
Nolan and Joy took notes from a car factory.
Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan visited a car manufacturing plant in Germany and saw how robotics played a part in production, particularly how each car is dipped by robotic arms into a vat of paint; which sparked Lisa Joy’s imagination: “Why not make a human that way?" Joy explains: “We took the same process for the suspended Vitruvian man.” An “incredibly powerful” machine dipped the figure into an unlikely substance — a swimming pool of Elmer’s Glue.
Handheld cameras were a no-no until the finale.
In video extra “Crafting the Narrative,” Nolan and Joy reveal why they steered away from using handheld camera shots and photography until the last moments of the season. The first handheld moment can be spotted after the bloody standoff between Dolores (Wood) and the Man in Black (Ed Harris) at Avalon during Season 1's finale episode, “The Bicameral Mind.” Nolan, the episode’s director, explains this was intentional, as the handheld footage is “to suggest that [the hosts] are coming alive and are more real.”