HBO’s Westworld Adds Ed Harris As The Villainous Man In Black

By Brent McKnight | Updated

Ed HarrisYesterday we wrote about X-Men’s James Marsden joining the cast of HBO’s upcoming reboot of Michael Crichton’s Westworld as the hero. And what use is a hero without a villain to go up against from time to time? Well now they’ve lined up one of those, too, and they found themselves a good one: Ed Harris.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Snowpiercer and Apollo 13 star will play a character called The Man in Black. This sounds like an updated version of Yul Brynner’s robotic gunslinger character from the 1973 original (which was written and directed by Crichton). He is described as “the distillation of pure villainy into one man.”

This raises questions about the set up of the story. The original film is set in a grown up amusement park populated by automatons where tourists can live out their wildest fantasies, like having a high noon showdown. All the bad guys are all robots, and when there’s a malfunction, things get crazy and bad. From what few quick accounts we’ve come across of the show, it sounds like it’s going to be a very different approach. It’s been explained as, “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” And with Harris’ Man in Black specifically called a “man,” you have to wonder how the robots will figure into all of this, or even if they will. Then again, with the idea of artificial intelligence, it’s possible that what we initially think are people turn out to be machines. Either way, there are plenty of big themes to dig into.

It’s no surprise that Westworld landed an actor the caliber of Harris. This is HBO we’re talking about, and they’ve been consistently turning out some of the best regular programming on TV for years now. There’s also already a great cast in place. In addition to Marsden, the credits include Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Shannon Woodward, and Kyle Bornheimer.

WestworldThat has to be a draw, but you can bet a behind the scenes collection that includes J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burke. And just for kicks, Jonathan Nolan, who has worked with his brother Christopher on such notable movies as The Dark Knight and Interstellar, co-wrote the script for the pilot with Lisa Joy, and will executive produce.

There’s not currently a schedule for Westworld and we don’t know when we can expect to actually see it, assuming HBO picks it up, though that sounds like a foregone conclusion with a big time cast a all kinds of star power behind it. The cable giant doesn’t stick to standard television seasons, so it could pop up whenever they have the space, but you can bet we’ll keep our eye on this one.