1:39pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
HBO's Star-Studded 'Westworld' Adaptation Ordered to Series
It's official: HBO is moving forward with its Westworld adaptation.
The drama, based on Michael Crichton's 1973 film and written by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, stars Anthony Hopkins in his first series-regular role as an inventor who runs an adult amusement park populated by lifelike robots. HBO made the announcement Monday via Twitter, with the series coming in 2015.
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The drama hails from J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk's Warner Bros. Television-based Bad Robot Productions, with the duo exec producing alongside Jerry Weintraub, Nolan (who directed the pilot) and Joy. Kathy Lingg will co-EP and Athena Wickham is a producer on the drama. Susie Ekins is set as a co-producer. Westworld hails from Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the show's androids — played by castmembers including James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton — can be killed off and return with completely different personas, allowing actors to play many characters. That creative device, one top talent agent said, helped HBO attract a premier cast (which also includes Ed Harris, Miranda Otto and Jeffrey Wright). And unlike the actors on such anthology series as FX's American Horror Story and HBO's own True Detective, which reboot themselves every season, the cast of Westworld is signing multiyear deals.
"This is built as a series and, in terms of storytelling, I think the rules are definitely being broken," HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told THR in August of the sci-fi Western from executive producers J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk. "The promise of the show, in terms of where it's going, is exciting to actors, and they want to be a part of this."
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Westworld becomes HBO's second drama from Warner Bros. Television, joining Damon Lindelof's adaptation ofThe Leftovers (which has already been renewed). The cabler recently passed over Ryan Murphy's sexuality drama pilot Open, from 20th Century Fox Television.
Westworld is HBO's first project with Bad Robot, which also produces CBS' Person of Interest and Hulu's upcoming event series 11/22/63. The banner recently saw the demise of Revolution, Almost Human and Believe. Abrams' credits include Fringe, Alcatraz and Lost. He's currently prepping Star Wars: Episode VII as well as the next installments in the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek franchises. 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.
For HBO, Westworld comes as the network recently said farewell to True Blood, and is wrapping the final seasons of Emmy darling Boardwalk Empire and Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. Westworld joins an HBO drama roster that also includes Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, True Detective and Utopia.
Check out HBO's Vine announcement, below.