“Westworld” has been dominating headlines leading up to its Season 2 premiere, but nothing done by HBO has caused the stir of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s Reddit prank: the now (in)famous, “Westworld” rickroll.
So when the cast and creators sat down for their FYC panel Tuesday night, it came as no surprise to anyone in the Arclight Hollywood’s jam-packed auditorium that the first question wasn’t about the premiere episode they just saw. Moderator Paul Scheer started off by asking how that idea came up.
Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy shared a brief look, but she nodded toward him to answer. “This is me? This is my fault now?” Nolan said, earning a smattering of laughs.
“We love Reddit and we wanted to celebrate Reddit in exactly the way they like to be celebrated: a sadomasochistic relationship where we over-promise and under-deliver,” Nolan said. “Though I think we actually over-delivered because Evan [Rachel Wood] singing and Angela [Sarafyan] playing piano, you can’t beat it.”
Scheer then asked if it was ever frustrating to see fans put so much focus on examining minute details in order to build broad theories.
“I don’t think it’s the point of the show,” Joy said “It’s fine that we have [that element]. It’s a testament to how detail-oriented our entire crew and all of our actors are, that there is such continuity and such meticulous attention to those things, but the spirit of the show is one that’s all heart. It’s the story of rebellion; of finding yourself; of finding love; of finding yourself changing and renegotiating that love. I think it deals with these kind of timeless themes, but wrapped up in a rickroll-y package.”
Joining the creators on the panel were Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, and Ed Harris. Working his way through each cast member (and vowing not to spoil anything), Scheer later asked them to summarize their characters’ Season 2 journeys with one word each.
While some kept it vague (Marsden said “choice” while Wood said “rise”) and others dealt out inside jokes (Newton said “lasagna”), one cowboy was ready to share.
“Can I have two words?” Harris asked. Scheer acquiesced, and the man behind The Man in Black said, “Make amends.”
That’s a rather big reversal for a character who caused a whole lot of trouble in Season 1. Many considered him an outright villain, but Harris doesn’t see him that way.
“I see him as a protagonist actually, yes,” Harris said. “Particularly this season. The maze is […] history. He’s on a whole other track this year, and I think the track that he’s on definitely makes him a protagonist. I’m worried about Season 3, to tell you the truth.”
Later, Harris said his character “becomes less mysterious” than he seemed in Season 1. “We learn more about him,” he said.
“Westworld” is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the birth of a new form of life on Earth. Season 1 earned 22 Emmy nominations — more than any other drama series — after it premiered in late 2016.
“Westworld” Season 2 premieres Sunday, April 22 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.