First look at Ed Harris in HBO's Westworld + showrunners dish on the upcoming sci-fi series

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Jan 26, 2015, 3:26 PM EST

HBO has released the first new still featuring Ed Harris as the deadly gunslinger known as The Man in Black, from its upcoming sci-fi series, Westworld.

The new pic shows Harris all clad in black as the iconic character originally played by Yul Brynner in 1973’s Westworld (who even reprised the role in the less-than-classic-and-perhaps-best-left-forgotten 1976 sequel Futureworld). Written and directed by Michael Crichton (it was his very first directing gig), the movie is considered a cult classic by a lot of fans. Personally, we have some fond memories of the movie and of Brynner’s deadly silent performance. We wonder if Harris will be equally silent, though, although we're pretty sure he'll be just as deadly.

Now, the classic sci-fi flick about malfunctioning androids in a futuristic amusement park for adults going on a murder spree is heading to the small screen as a TV series on HBO later this year. This is thanks to the efforts of Christopher Nolan's brother, Jonathan (Interstellar, The Dark Knight), who created, wrote and produced the upcoming series alongside his wife Lisa Joy (Burn Notice). The show will also be produced by J.J. Abrams and Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk.

If robots running amok in a high-tech amusement park weren’t fun or cool enough for you, let’s have a look at the VERY impressive cast for the new series, shall we? Besides Harris, we have the great Sir Anthony Hopkins (Thor, Thor: The Dark World) in his first regular TV role evah as the park’s creator, Dr. Robert Ford. James Marsden (Cyclops from X-Men), Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood), Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale), Mirando Otto (The Lord of the Rings), Thandie Newton (The Chronicles of Riddick) and Rodrigo Santoro (300, 300: Rise of an Empire) round up the cast. What did we tell ya? Impressive. This is definitely putting a huge smile on all our faces. You could even say that our minds are pre-blown by the awesome cast list.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, both Nolan and Joy discussed the upcoming series — without revealing too many salient points about it — but they said enough to thoroughly whet our appetites about the show.

We’ve plucked what we thought were the the juiciest tidbits from the interview, and put them below for you guys.

About adapting Westworld as a TV series from a movie that had a great three-arc-structure, here’s what Lisa Joy said:

The glory of doing it as a series is that you get to kind of dance in the little spaces that were left unexplored. In a film, you only have a finite amount of time, and you’re so concerned with saying what happened and making it a gripping short story with a satisfying ending. But in a TV series, you can really take a novelistic approach and explore characters that you wouldn’t ordinarily see, in a level of complexity that you wouldn’t ordinarily get to explore just out of the sheer time constraints in a feature. I think we’re very much looking forward to taking all those possibilities and exploding out.

Noland and Joy (who confirmed that we’ll also get to see what happens outside the park in the series) also explained what they’ll bring to the table concerning artificial intelligence with Westworld, in the wake of what’s already been done in movies and TV series such as Blade Runner, Dollhouse, and, most recently, Almost Human.

Nolan: My brother’s favorite movie is Blade Runner. I can’t count the amount of times he’s made me watch it. [Lisa and I] both watched and admired Dollhouse. There are really smart people asking interesting questions about this sort of universe. But I think there are lots of questions left unanswered. A.I. [Artificial Intelligence] is a topic that Lisa and I are both fascinated by. And the thing about science fiction is that it’s past the golden age. The great [talents] have already taken a crack at lot of this. But it’s still very pleasurable take a swing at some of the bigger ideas.

Joy: I think the other thing that’s fascinating about doing this now is, in a short amount of time since Blade Runner came out, the kind of science that we’re talking about has become closer to “science” than it is to the “fiction” part of “science-fiction.” I think we’re standing at an interesting precipice from which to both view the future and to hypothesize about the future. I think that all of that new information will help add new dimensions to this world.

Both Nolan and Joy remained mum when they were asked what distinguished the androids from the humans physically, with Nolan only saying: “There are questions that we want the audience to be asking. There are some key differences between the film and our series.” 

Last, but not least, Nolan explained how the park functioned (well, sorta), saying:

People who come into this place are looking for—and this is the irony of it—the authentic experience. They’re looking for not the virtual version, but the real version, the tactile version. Interestingly we’ve arrived at what [the original film] created—fully immersible virtual worlds. Look at Grand Theft Auto or any of these wholly imagined open-world video games. They are beautiful. They’re perfectly immersive and brilliant and filled with narrative turns … “What happens in Westworld stays in Westworld.” It’s a place where you can be whoever the f–k you want to be and there are no consequences. No rules, no limitations.

He also added:

Picture your neurosis. Picture the things that keep you up at night—human behavior, artificial intelligence—any of those things that trouble you, worry you. That is exactly what the show is about. We are hoping to exploit all of those anxieties…  We’re incredibly excited about it, both on the narrative level and on a cinematic level.

What do you think of Ed Harris's look as Westworld's deadly Man in Black? Are you looking forward to HBO's upcoming sci-fi series?

(via EW)