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‘Westworld’: How HBO’s Sci-Fi/Western Hybrid Achieves Its Unique Sound Design

Supervising sound editor Thomas deGorter explains his process in a new interview.

Anthony Hopkins Westworld

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford

John P. Johnson/HBO

HBO’s latest high-profile series is “Westworld,” a sci-fi/Western hybrid that’s drawn attention for, among other things, its sonic qualities. As such, the fine folks at A Sound Effect have interviewed Thomas deGorter, an Emmy-winning sound editor whose prior credits include “Lost,” “Once Upon a Time” and “The Leftovers,” about his work on the show.

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Those similarly genre-inclined projects all served as prelude to “Westworld” in the sense that their creators “wanted a real feeling” in creating their fictional worlds. “They didn’t want anything too sci-fi, too over the top,” says deGorter. “We wanted the sound to feel grounded and real. ” That approach carried over to this adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel, which was also made into a movie in 1973. (Asked whether said film influenced the creative direction of this new take on the material, deGorter responds in the negative: “Not really. We wanted a clean slate. We had to create a whole new world and we wanted it to be all fresh and new.”)

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He also discusses the different approaches toward the two main worlds of the show, the one more in line with its sci-fi leanings and the other expressing a more Western sensibility: “When we are in the western world it’s much noisier and grittier than when we get into the inner workings of the park,” deGorter explains. Read the full interview here.

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