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NME Festival blog: ‘Westworld’ Season 2: release date, casting news and fan theories

Dragons and monsters may have reigned supreme in Game of Thrones and Stranger Things in 2016 – but sci-fi/Western hybrid Westworld proved to be one of the most innovative shows of the year despite being based on a 43-year-old film. It wrapped up with some (hardly unexpected) mindfucker-y that left many viewers both confused, entranced and desperate for more. Luckily, Season 1 was just the start, and production on Season 2 is under way by HBO. Here’s all the key information you need to know about the new episodes.

When is Westworld Season 2 out?

Currently the plan is Spring 2018. This was confirmed by HBO in July 2017.

Has Westworld Season 2 begun filming?

Filming for new episodes has begun in Utha. This is where the first season was filmed, and as Fox13 reports – filming in the desert is expected to last until April 2018.

An Instagram post from Evan Rachel Wood confirmed that she’s already prepping for more filming.

A month later, Wood gave us a brief insight about what the first episode is all going to be about…

Speaking to Collider, Ed Harris said that filming is well under way. “So far, we’ve shot some from episode one, episode two, some from episode four, some from episode 10. They’re committed to having the scripts done to shoot so we’re done by Christmas.”

HBO recently put out a casting call for extras to appear in Westworld 2. Check out the open casting instructions here.

On November 2, filming for the show was suspended indefinitely after a male actor with a recurring was injured off-set. TMZ has not named the actor, but report that it could influence the show’s release date.

Is there a trailer for Westworld Season 2?

Hell yeah! Check out the gloriously violent teaser trailer below.

So what does that trailer tell us? More than we expected, actually.

Chaos reigns over Westworld, but we get concrete assurances about who makes it through. Delores is seen in pretty furious mood riding a horse, Bernard is alive and kicking and Maeve takes a little look at the carnage she created.

On August 30, HBO shared a brief snippet of new footage from Season 2, which also appears to tease Samurai World/East World (more on that below). The video has since been deleted by HBO.

How many episodes will there be?

As confirmed by Bloys, there will be 10 episodes, just like the first season.


Will the entire cast be back for Season 2?

No casting news has been confirmed by the producers, though several of the actors have given clues about whether they’ll be back.

Ed Harris, who played the older iteration of The Man In Black in the first season, confirmed that he’ll be back involved if the character returns – which as we’ve seen in the trailer, is totally on. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Harris said “I was just talking to Jonah Nolan last night, who’s a creator of this thing [Westworld] with his wife Lisa Joy, and yeah, they’re doing another season. They’re going to do 10 more episodes, and I will be involved.”

He stopped short of any more details, though it’s likely that his character will play another large role.

His younger iteration, whose identity was kept secret throughout the show and was played by Jimmi Simpson, is unlikely to return. Speaking to Cinema Blend, Simpson said that his involvement at the moment is “unclear”. If they have more for William, I would assume it would be a whole new kind of story. Because I feel like this story, the love affair, we know everything, we know what happens, we don’t have to labor that point. But if they have a reason–I mean, it was the greatest set I’ve ever worked on.”

“But we’re all speculating what Season 2 will be, and I think it’ll be something that will blow our minds, to the degree that Season 1 did” he said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if William showed up Season 3 or something.”

Speaking to IGN at Comic-Con over the weekend, Simpson seemed to confirm that he would return for the new episodes. “There’s a few more questions we’re going to answer for us about how that transition occurred” he said, when asked about how his character morphed into the Man in Black.

He gave firm confirmation that he will be back via Twitter a week later.

Its unclear who else will return as characters in the new series just yet. Rachel Evan Woods (Dolores) and Thandie Newton will both return for the new series but Anthony Hopkins, who played the park’s creator, Robert Ford, and was shot in the season’s finale, has been cryptic about whether he will return.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, producer Jonathan Nolan didn’t rule out Hopkin s return, saying “I think with this show, you want to assume nothing” in regards to his return, and speaking to The Mirror in December, Hopkins backed that up. “Nobody knows anything,” Hopkins said. “I don’t know anything. I cannot give any answers as I don’t know.”

James Marsden, who played Delores’ ally Teddy recently posted snaps from the set on his Instagram.

Louis Herthum, who plays Peter Abernathy (Delores’ father), revealed that his character will return for the new episodes and that he will become a main cast member for the show. Talulah Riley, who played the the welcoming host Angela will also be promoted.

Will there be any new characters in Season 2?

You betcha. First up to join the crazy gang is The Leftovers star Katja Herbers, who is described as by Deadline as “a seasoned guest in Westworld whose latest visit comes at the park’s darkest hour”. Is she going to be the park’s saviour when it all goes a bit bananas next year? It seems that way…

As confirmed by VarietyGustaf Skarsgård (Vikings), Fares Fares, and Betty Gabriel will all join the Westworld crew. Skarsgård (pictured below) will be playing Karl Strand, “a white-collar guy comfortable in the field”, with Fares playing a new tech wizard called Antoine Costa, and Gabriel taking the role of Maling, a new enforcer in the park.

Gustaf Skarsgård

What’s going to happen in Season 2?

Currently, Nolan and co-producer Lisa Joy have kept tight lipped about what’s going to happen in the new episodes. However they have confirmed that the new episodes will not directly commence after last season’s finale. “We are definitely not picking up right where we left off” Nolan says.

One thing that people are excited about seeing is the introduction of other worlds.

In the finale, a brief scene confirmed that other parks like Westworld exist. In the 1973 film and the book it was based on, three parks –  Western World, Roman World and Medieval World – are featured. Speaking at Comic Con in New York at the end of last year, Nolan said that Roman World and Medieval World are not a part of their plans.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Nolan and Joy suggested that new worlds, in particular the Samurai World that was teased, will start to feature in the show. “We will ultimately encounter other worlds. Just when and where remains to be seen” Nolan said. Joy confirmed that Samurai World is in the works by saying, “it’s wonderful to work with actors we haven’t worked with before. This allows us a lot of access to Asian actors and the Asian community”.

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that in the first trailer we see a washed up tiger on the beach with Bernard looking pretty perplexed by it. Outside of horses, animals in Westworld were few and far between, so it’s unlikely for a tiger to suddenly show up. That means we could be seeing Samurai World or East World leaking into West World, and the tiger could just be the first sign of that happening.

The speculation around this continues to grow, as leaked set photos shared with Westworld Watchers appear to show building styles that would look in place at Samurai/East World. The curved roof, in contrast to the shacks that were prominent in the first set of episodes is what have got tongues wagging. Take a look at them here.

Speaking at a Vanity Fair panel in October 2017, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan joked they “had to save something for Season 2” when asked why Roman World and Samurai World didn’t feature in the show’s first batch of episodes.

Furthermore, eagled-eyed fans spotted that a clue at the interactive Westworld Experience in New York may have hinted at even more worlds. In a piece for This Is Insider, at least six worlds were hinted at in voice-over. “After fake security guards usher visitors into an elevator, an audio recording is played. It’s an announcement being made by Ashley Stubbs (played by Luke Hemsworth). After assuring guests everything will be fine, he says “parks one, three, and six” are undergoing emergency evacuation procedures.”

However as we now know that filming will start up in Utah, that the original Westworld universe is likely to be the primary basis for the next batch of episodes.

Plot details are thin while the writers are working on the show, but the theme of “chaos” as alluded to by Ford in the closing moments of the finale looks like to be a dominant theme.

With the host’s revolution on the way, it could be Dolores who is the spearhead of what is to come. In the finale, we learn that Dolores is actually Wyatt – the outlaw host in Ford’s narrative – and “that ruthlessness seen will carry over into the new episodes”, Nolan says. “The question will be when the dust settles and the pendulum stops swinging, who will Dolores be?”

The show’s official website recently updated with a new coded message, which you can see below:

What does it mean though? Fans are speculating that this could represent the lack of communication from the world to the outside, and that more peril awaits the guests of the park.

In an interview with DeadlineThandie Newton – who plays Maeve – goes into details about her character when she returns to the park. “In Season 2, we’re going to see her going back into the world that she has abandoned, which felt to me like an incredibly courageous and ultimately rebellious choice,” she said.

“Particularly as Maeve was informed by Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard character that everything that she’s done, like escaping the park, was programmed. I found that deeply disturbing, and Maeve also found it violently disturbing, to feel like your mind is not your own, that these acts of defiance that were brave and rebelling against her oppressors were preordained. It’s terrifying.” Basically, it looks like Maeve’s identity crisis is going to play a huge part to Season 2.

Are any of the fan theories correct?

In a recent press conference, Nolan confirmed that Reddit had correctly guessed one of the twists coming in Episode 3. 

“Reddit has already figured out the third episode twist,” Nolan said. “So, we’re changing that right now” he revealed. “It’s annoying sometimes when people guess the twists and then blog about it, but the engagement is gratifying, on one level, because if someone guesses your twist, it means you’ve done an adequate job [of structuring the series].”

He didn’t go on to say which of the fan theories was guessed correctly, however.

Nolan also revealed that may people are incorrectly assuming that Westworld takes place in the future, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “We had some pretty frightening conversations about [artificial intelligence] with people who have a front-row seat to what’s happening” he said. “We’ve all thought about this subject as science fiction for so long that it’s hard to understand it’s happening — right now.”


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