How 'Westworld' Will Avoid Production Delays in Season 2

Westworld Finale -Still 5-  Evan Rachel Wood- James Marsden - Anthony Hopkins EMBED 2016
Courtesy of HBO

HBO's Westworld made its PaleyFest debut Saturday with the cast and creators of the futuristic sci-fi drama reflecting on the twists and turns of season one while remaining tight-lipped about any season two details.

The only thing showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan did reveal was the show's plan to avoid production delays that plagued its freshman run. Nolan said that the married duo would write all 10 episodes before production begins on season two. The producers declined to say when production would actually begin. That marks a change from season one.

After wrapping its long-awaited first season in December, HBO and producers Nolan and Joy announced that the sophomore run would not debut until 2018. The first season, which is estimated to have come with a $100 million price tag, was originally set to debut in 2015.

Picked up to pilot in August 2013 and ordered to series in November 2014 under former HBO programming president Michael Lombardo, the futuristic Western was the subject of swirling rumors about its messy production process for months. The show ultimately was shut down from Dec. 1, 2015, to Feb. 1, 2016, to allow Nolan and Joy time to catch up on scripts, with the show rumored at one point to be pushed to 2017. Sources say it was Nolan who fought for the production to get up and running again so the series did not lose its California tax credit.
Following a few production delays to help producers keep up with the deeply serialized nature of the twisty drama, the ambitious show launched in October to strong reviews and a lot of buzz for stars including Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores), Thandie Newton (Maeve), Ed Harris (the Man in Black), Jeffrey Wright (Bernard), James Marsden (Teddy) and Jimmi Simpson (William).

Nolan and Joy — who welcomed a baby three weeks ago — largely remained tight-lipped on season two of Westworld. What is known is that the season one finale helped set the stage to explore a second world as part of the futuristic amusement park after seeing "SW" — "Samurai World" — in another area of the park following the host revolt. (Stars including Wood, Newton, Marsden and Harris all told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet ahead of the panel that they didn't know a thing about season two and hadn't been preparing for anything samurai related.)

"Yes, some of us will go and do the second season," Newton said while reflecting on the show's vocal fans on Twitter and how much she enjoys following along. The actress compared fan reaction on social media to how the cast felt upon reading the scripts for the first time.

"It's a musical!" joked Nolan when asked what season two is about, before noting that "Reddit has already figured out the third-episode twist ,and we're changing that one out!" When asked specifically if the show will venture into new worlds, he deadpanned, "That'd be cool, wouldn't it?"

Nolan also expressed his frustration with viewers who figured out the big twists of season one — and some who blogged about it — and encouraged fans to avoid spoiling anything online. Said Joy: "If you want to be surprised, you have to censor yourself from the internet."

Here are a couple other highlights from the panel:

•  "I've been waiting for the message boards on Reddit to tell us! The way we designed and shot it … that is the first decision she has ever made of her own free will," Nolan said when asked if Maeve going back to Westworld to search for her daughter was really a decision the self-aware host made for herself.

• After praising all the actors who played hosts in season one, Harris may have had the best quote of the night with this thread: "I just don't want to be naked and I don't want to wear a samurai suit … and I'm saying that publicly! I'm a Man in Black, not a Man in a samurai suit! Samurais don't wear hats!"

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