Tribeca: 'Westworld' Cast Says They Are in the Dark About Season 2 Timeline

At the New York premiere of the HBO show's second season, castmembers Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and more get candid about the cerebral sci-fi drama.
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Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood, and James Marsden

Confusion was a recurring theme Thursday night at the New York premiere of Westworld — just as it is designed to be on the hit HBO show.

As part of the Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca TV screened the first episode of the second season of the sci-fi drama, followed by a panel with the Westworld team. Creators and executive producers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan joined castmembers Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and James Marsden onstage. The panel began with Newton reminding everyone how betrayed and frustrated the robot hosts in the Westworld park feel.

“If you discover that everything about who you are, all the promises that were made to you, your identity is all a lie, it is something that we can all relate to,” said Newton of playing host Maeve. “You have to expand and find a deeper understanding, a deeper love. But she's a robot so how the fuck's she going to do that?”

At the end of the first season, many characters are in disarray as the hosts become increasingly sentient. Part of that evolution is retrieving memories, distinguishing reality and discovering other skills that Newton described as “superhuman.” The creators are using that to their advantage this season in hopes of keeping audience members on their toes. 

“The ways in which we manipulate time will be a little more aboveground this season because [the hosts are] aware now that they're a little lost in time,” Joy told The Hollywood Reporter, adding, "But they're still lost."

Hosts like Bernard and Dolores, played by Wright and Wood, respectively, have already begun experiencing this “time slippage” — both on- and offscreen. 

“[The scenes] were filmed in a sequence designed to completely disorient me,” Wright deadpanned during the panel. 

Wood couldn’t help but agree: “I felt more confused [during] season two, when I was supposed to have more information.” She then whispered to Wright, “There were even some days where we showed up on season two and I'd just be like, 'What episode is this?'" 

"I don't know!" her co-star fired back. 

While Wood, who became famous for theorizing on set when filming the first season, still isn’t sure which episode is which, she is looking forward to the airing of the second season to help iron things out. 

“A lot of stuff I see for the first time is when the show is airing,” the actress explained to THR. “There's so much work to do on your own storyline and we get the scripts so late — sometimes the day we're shooting — so you kind of don't have time and I like to be surprised.”

One thing that is for sure is that viewers should gear up for a lot of surprises. In the first season, for example, the hosts were nude while being operated on. The second season, airing post-#MeToo, should see that practice evolve.

“What is essential to the story is the feeling of both perfection and also of tragedy,” Joy said, explaining the choice to have the hosts be nude. “They're sitting there being literally objectified and treated like objects, like things to operate on and talk about while they're sitting right there in the room.” 

But it’s clear from last season that the hosts aren’t putting up with it for much longer. 

“When the hosts get power,” Joy said, “they're not gonna spend a lot of time naked on a stool.”

Another twist will be Shogun World, one of several forthcoming new parks on the show and the only one that’s been teased so far. Nolan cites Akira Kurosawa’s films as the biggest source of inspiration for the new backdrop.

"The challenge of coming to another season is getting to build not just other worlds, but getting to pay homage to other filmmakers and use the same stocks they shot on, and trying to design the same color palette and the same costumes,” he told the panel before adding, “For Shogun World, we brought out an entirely Japanese cast and Japanese stunt choreographers." He then added, "Not that we're doing any of that in the second season.”

As for the action going on inside the park, Newton teased that Maeve may have something to do with it. 

“All she's experienced is within the parameters of the park, either in Sweetwater in the saloon or in the confines of the tech world where she's experimented on,” Newton confessed to THR. “She's gonna go way beyond that.” 

Westworld premieres on HBO on April 22 at 9 p.m. Watch the full Tribeca panel below.