HBO is getting down to some serious casting business with their upcoming revamp of the 1973 Michael Crichton (written and directed and based on his own novel) theme park gone wrong tale Westworld. Now they’ve added a former superhero into the mix, as Cyclops himself, James Marsden, has joined the ever-expanding cast.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the X-Men star will play the lead role in the upcoming pilot for the cable giant. He will play a character named Teddy Flood, which I have to admit is a pretty awesome name for a protagonist in a proto-western. When the mystery man arrives in a small frontier town he makes an immediate impact, both with his winning personality and his proficiency with a sidearm. There’s also a love interest that supposedly “launches him on a dark odyssey.”
Marsden, who recently appeared in Anchorman 2 among other films, joins a slew of newcomers. There’s Eddie Rouse (Pandorum), who will play a character named Kissy, short for Kisecawchuck—another good name—a Native American card dealer, as well as Demetrius Grosse, Kyle Bornheimer, Currie Graham, Lena Georgas, Steven Off, and Timothy Lee DePriest. And those are just the fresh faces, as the cast already included the likes of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Simon Quarterman, Angela Sarafyan, Indrid Bolso Berdal, and Shannon Woodward.
As you can tell, HBO has put together an impressive cast in front of the camera, but that’s what you get when you have big time names like J.J. Abrams behind the scenes. The Star Wars: Episode VII director will executive produce along with Jerry Weintraub and Bad Robot’s Bryan Burk. Jonathan Nolan, who wrote The Dark Knight with his brother (he’s also worked on the likes of Person of Interest, Memento, and the upcoming Interstellar, co-wrote the pilot and will also executive produce.
It’s going to be interesting to see how they adapt Westworld into an episodic show. The movie is about a grown up amusement park full of robots where you can go live out their fantasies, like having a shootout at high noon with an android Yul Brynner. Things go awry, however, and the robots malfunction, and the tourists have to fight for their lives.
Themes of technology gone wrong and the idea of artificial intelligence becoming more and more ubiquitous are even more pressing and in our minds today than ever, so they’ll have a lot to work with in that regard. The report says the project is “billed as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” There are definitely a great many areas to explore idea wise, the set up, however, mentions nothing about the theme park side of things, so I’m curious to see what direction the producers take the narrative.