Heading Back to ‘Westworld’ with the Stars and Showrunners of Season 4

Black hats and white hats assemble. It’s time to return to the Westworld. Westworld Season 4 is coming. And to celebrate our latest trip to the new world, we were given the opportunity to join the hosts and guests of the famed Delos park to discuss what’s in store for their characters and what new mysteries will be unlocked for the show’s return this coming Sunday, June 26 on HBO and HBO Max.

In attendance for the roundtable discussions were series mainstays Tessa Thompson, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafyan, and Luke Hemsworth, alongside co-creator/showrunner Lisa Joy and writer/showrunner Alison Schapker. Together they tackled serious questions regarding how Westworld as a show satirizes data mining issues, human consciousness, and moral ambiguity. Here’s what the crew had to say about the upcoming season:

First up, Harris, Thompson, and Sarafyan were asked about whether or not at the end of the day, the hosts should prevail over humanity, or whether it’s possible for both sets of characters to co-exist with one another.

HARRIS: I don’t know but it kind of seems like they’re becoming inseparable on some level. Maybe I’m mistaken, but even the hosts being given the opportunity to be free among themselves seem to revert back to more or less the negative side of human behavior.

THOMPSON: We’re trying to make this nirvana, this real great place for hosts to take off their host parts and just be bodies and consciousness. And they’re not interested. So I don’t know. I don’t know what that says about us.

HARRIS: For me it says that A.I. or not, the hosts are programmed by humans. Even if they were programmed by an A.I. that A.I. was programmed by a human, so that aspect of humanity whether negative or positive will come out in them.

SARAFYAN: Right. So the humans flaw would have to exist within the A.I. structure. So both the positive and negative qualities will dictate the future.

HARRIS: The show poses some very difficult questions.

Next, Wright and Hemsworth were asked about the time shift that occurs during the season, and what that implies for their characters.

WRIGHT: It’s been a few years, several years. [Bernard] is dustier, dirtier, needs a bit of an oil can, he’s been in that one position for a while. And he is, when we find him, he’s a bit clearer than he’s been in the past. And he continues to be in this pursuit for freedom – for himself, his fellow hosts, and for the greater good. He’s still on this mission. But now he’s empowered in this way we’ve never seen him been previously. He’s always been trying to break free of the shackles and dust the metaphorical dirt from his face and he’s now a bit freer and a bit stronger. We’ll see how much trouble he gets into as a result of that?

Hemsworth was asked what Stubbs has been up to in the years Bernard has been sitting in that position getting dustier.

HEMSWORTH: Yeah we were talking about this before. He just walks about the perimeter of the room. Goes out to the door, shuts the door, goes back in. There’s a big pile of crumpled up newspaper over there. He’s been shooting hoops for several years. No, look, Stubbs has used his time very wisely. He hasn’t done a lot of cleaning. But he’s been evolving as a sentient being, and realizing that perhaps playing Bernard’s lackey is not all it’s cracked up to be. And so hopefully we get to see a little bit of Stubbs coming into his own.

WRIGHT: What do you mean? It’s cracked up!

HEMSWORTH: It’s cracked! No, I love this relationship. It’s so fun. It’s so easy. And it really mirrors mine and Jeffrey’s relationship in real life. We’re very sardonic, and we like to take the piss out of each other. And I think that relationship bleeds through on the screen. And there are many jokes this season which are just us f**king around.

A bit later in the conversation, Paul, who began his journey at Westworld in Season 3, as human Caleb Nichols was asked what it was like getting to experience the park this season.

PAUL: As a crazy fan of the show, last season I had my own theories after reading scripts episode by episode. I was convinced we were living in the park. I thought were were in Futureworld. So I was very excited to dive into the park and “choose a hat” per se. It was very exciting. It was truly one of those “pinching myself” moments…It was so fun to put on that costume and run around and play in that world. It was truly a dream come true.

Showrunner Joy was then asked about how the themes of consciousness and free will would be explored further this season.

JOY: In terms of free will, I think that our characters still grapple with how free they are. Both the hosts and the humans. For the humans, so much has changed. They’re no longer at war. There’s ostensibly a time of peace. Yet so much has stayed the same. Caleb is still in a very similar job to the one he had. The world is no longer controlled by the algorithm anymore, but maybe there weren’t that many deviations in his possible path. So I think he’s trying to figure out “who am I” and how does he fit in the real world. Similarly, the hosts that remain are questioning their own adherence to the more human aspects of themselves. There’s no reason why the hosts should look like a human… There’s no reason they have to be bipedal. These are all traits they’ve inherited from their flawed forefathers and foremothers. So I think it’s really a question that all of them are asking “who am I” and “how much of it I’ve inherited.” How much of it is imposed on me by society, and what’s left by which I can exert my control over the world?

Wood was asked about how she went about bringing a herself into the character of Dolores from the perspective of both the character and actress being trauma survivors.

WOOD: That’s always the dance you do with characters. Especially when you relate to the character so much. Sometimes you’re at war with yourself… separating the two experiences. But it’s one of the reasons why I love Dolores and the way they’ve explored that character is that heroes aren’t perfect. Things are messy and there isn’t a perfect victim or perfect survivor. It’s all the lens at which we look at them. And the experiences that we’ve had that influence our perception. And so in that way, I relate to her. I’m in no way shape or form perfect. But I may be optimistic like Dolores, in that evil never dies, but it also never wins. And it can seem hopeless to keep fighting, but you have to fight not to defeat the thing, but to maintain the balance.

And the fight rages on when the new season of Westworld hits HBO this Sunday, June 26!