Westworld Producer on How Video Games Influenced the Show

Jonathan Nolan talks about why he was drawn to Westworld.


Westworld producer Jonathan Nolan has already talked about how the HBO show is inspired in part by Red Dead Redemption and BioShock. But the show's video game influences actually go back further and are more nuanced.

In a new interview with IGN, Nolan said part of what drew him to Westworld was that he was eager to explore the the idea that life itself is "beginning to resemble a game."

"Before we had children, I was a gamer back in the day," Nolan said, referencing his wife, Lisa Joy, who is also a producer on Westworld. "And I think that was the other aspect of what drew me to the original concept, was the idea of life ever more beginning to resemble a game. That with enough wealth and sufficient technological advancement that you could get to a point where you live, as a lot of people do, a significant portion of your life in a fantasy universe, whether it's World of Warcraft or the new VR games that are just coming out."

Westworld tells the story of a highly advanced amusement park of sorts that people can visit to live out their fantasies alongside lifelike robots, referred to as "hosts" in the show.

Nolan, who co-wrote his brother's Batman movie The Dark Knight and Interstellar, went on to say that people can "really dissolve" into game worlds and he wanted to explore more of what that might mean.

"You really dissolve into that experience and live your life inside--not a real world but a curated world," he said. "One that's distinct from the real world because there's intention there, there are rules. There is a narrative. Life, real life, resists narrative through lines. There aren't hidden levels. There's just f**king chaos. But in the game universe there are always deeper levels of meaning. So for us it was like a candy store. There were all these ideas that we wanted to play with in one series."

Nolan added that he's tired of the discussion about "Are we living in a simulation?" because if the simulation was robust enough, there would be no way of knowing. He said there is still a conversation to be had along these lines, however.

"But the idea that our lives could be programmatic, that there could be rules at play that we're not familiar with, that we don't understand, is something I've long been fascinated by," he said. "And so is the idea of fate and the idea of an unseen hand that's guiding events. Here, it's a very literal thing."

Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins plays the overseer of Westworld, having created all of it, down to every blade of grass and android that inhabits it. Things begin to fall apart in the world, which is something his character references in a trailer. "You can't play god without being acquainted with the devil," he said, referencing the events of Westworld.

Westworld also stars Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, James Marsden, and Jeffrey Wright. It premieres on October 2, 2016. It's a re-imagining of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name.

According to Marsden, there are five or six years seasons worth of Westworld mapped out, though only the first season has been announced so far.

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