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‘Westworld’: The Story Behind This Week’s Unexpected Crossover Cameo

A joke and a beer eventually led to some familiar HBO faces making a surprise on-screen appearance.

Westworld Season 3 Episode 2 Jeffrey Wright

Jeffrey Wright in “Westworld”

John P. Johnson/HBO

[Note: The following interview contains spoilers for “Westworld” Season 3, Episode 2 “The Winter Line.”]

No, your eyes did not deceive you. That was a dragon in the belly of the Parks.

“Westworld” Season 3’s second episode finds the unlikely team of Bernard and Stubbs making their way through the treacherous labyrinth of behind-the-scenes testing and staging rooms. At one point, the action cuts away from the two series regulars to focus on two other men weighing some dark choices for the fire breather coiled up in the room next to them.

Of course, these schemers were played by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the real-life co-creators and main duo behind fellow HBO behemoth “Game of Thrones.”

Much like a writers room joke about Hemingworld eventually set Warworld in motion, this week’s quick cameo came from another source very familiar to “Thrones” fans.

“George R. R. Martin had long joked about wanting a crossover between ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Westworld,'” series co-creator Lisa Joy told IndieWire. “Somehow, he must have incepted that idea in our heads, because when it was time to explore, to have Stubbs and Bernard run through this world, we knew that we had to have fun with it.”

For a show that seems based on meticulous, intricate plotting across multiple timelines and realities, bringing Benioff and Weiss into the fold had more casual origins. While the two were in post-production on the final season of “Game of Thrones,” some catch-up time with Joy and Jonathan Nolan set the plan in motion.

“Over a beer we pitched them a silly idea and they very graciously said yes. It was really more an excuse to hang out on set together,” Nolan said. “They’ve been very kind to us over the years. We could not be making our show if they had not blazed the trail of gigantically ambitious cinematic television.”

“The idea of taking these great pals and humiliating them in these white suits, and to bring their little pet over to play was too good to pass up,” Joy said.

This isn’t the first time the show has brought in real-life creators for on-camera recognition. Season 2 enlisted composer Ramin Djawadi to pose as an in-park townsperson and pluck away at a guitar. (This week’s episode has another string instrument player — Nolan confirmed that wasn’t Djawadi but joked, “We’ll get him back next season!”) As with the Benioff and Weiss scene, that cameo came from a long evening of filming.

“We like to take our good friends and traumatize the shit out of them with night shoots and make them stay up all night,” Joy said with a laugh.

For more thoughts on the rest of Sunday’s episode, read Ben Travers’ review here. “Westworld” airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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