July 22, 2014 4:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood to Star in HBO's 'Westworld'
Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood are heading West for HBO and J.J. Abrams.
The Silence of the Lambs Oscar winner has been tapped to star in the premium cable network's Abrams-produced Westworld adaptation, which has been formally picked up to pilot, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with Wood set to co-star.
Inspired by Michael Crichton's 1973 film of the same name, the drama is billed as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.
Abrams will executive produce alongside veteran producer Jerry Weintraub and Bad Robot's Bryan Burk. Person of Interest's Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote the pilot, will executive produce and direct as well. Lisa Joy co-wrote the pilot and will exec produce. Kathy Lingg will co-EP and Athena Wickham is a producer on the Warner Bros. Television drama. David Coatsworth is set as a co-EP and line producer, with Susie Ekins set as a co-producer. Westworld hails from Abrams' Bad Robot Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films.
Hopkins is set to play Dr. Robert Ford, the brilliant, taciturn and complicated creative director, chief programmer and chairman of the board of Westworld, who has an uncompromising creative vision for the park — and unorthodox methods of achieving it. Wood will portray Dolores Abernathy, the quintessential farm girl of the frontier West — who is about to discover that her entire idyllic existence is an elaborately constructed lie.
For Hopkins, who also earned Oscar nominations for Amistad, Nixon and The Remains of the Day, Westworld would mark his first TV series regular role. He's repped by UTA, manager Rick Nicita and Stone Meyer.
Wood, meanwhile, will return to HBO after her Emmy-nominated supporting role in miniseries Mildred Pierce and recurring role on vampire drama True Blood. She's repped by CAA and Ziffren Brittenham.
Hopkins becomes the latest big-screen star to head to TV, joining the likes of Billy Bob Thornton (FX's Fargo), Halle Berry (CBS' Extant) and True Detective duo Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, among others.
The drama, which received a pilot production commitment last August, serves as the latest example of a premium cable network picking up a project from an outside studio. Westworld marks HBO's second series from Warner Bros. Television, joining Damon Lindelof's adaptation of Tom Perrotta's best-seller The Leftovers. The cabler also has Ryan Murphy's sexuality drama pilot Open, from 20th Century Fox Television, in contention.
Westworld is HBO's first project with Bad Robot, which also produces CBS' Person of Interest. The series order now gives Abrams two series on the air after NBC canceled Revolution after two seasons and Fox's Almost Human and NBC's Believe were axed after one season each. Abrams' Bad Robot is also prepping a miniseries based on Rod Serling's (The Twilight Zone) final and unproduced screenplay, The Stops Along the Way. A network is not yet attached. On the feature side, Abrams is hard at work on Star Wars: Episode VII, among other projects.
For HBO, Westworld comes as the network will soon say farewell to True Blood, Emmy darling Boardwalk Empire and Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. If ultimately picked up to series, Westworld would join a drama roster at the cabler that also includes Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, True Detective and newly ordered Utopia. HBO also has pilots Open and The Missionary as well as a rock 'n' roll drama from Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger — among other projects — in the works.