The top moments in ‘Westworld’? Key players make their picks

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores, from left, James Marsden as Teddy and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Ford in “Westworld.”
(John P. Johnson / HBO)

After a long and bumpy production, “Westworld” arrived in October and became a cultural phenomenon HBO hadn’t seen since the debut of “True Detective” almost three years before. The series was richly rewarded last week with three Golden Globe nominations, including drama series, and three SAG Award nominations, highlighted by a nod for drama series ensemble. The Envelope asked series creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan as well as stars Jeffrey Wright and Golden Globe nominee Evan Rachel Wood to pick what were to them key scenes from the first season — fair warning if you’re not up to date on the series, several of their answers reveal plot points from the first 10 episodes.

Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores)

“I’d have to say the Man in Black reveal. The moment that Dolores looks at Ed Harris’ character and realizes he’s her long-lost love and that she’s been trapped in memories, I think that’s her turning point. It was always sort of explained to me, especially when we first started shooting that scene, that she’s obviously devastated and heartbroken that the love of her life has grown into this sort of monster. She’s also programmed to believe that there is good in this world and that her cornerstone is: “Some people choose to take ugly in this world and I choose to see the beauty.”  She is always looking at the bright side of things. I think that’s the moment when she realizes that not just this man is broken, but human beings are broken. She cannot live in peace with them any longer. She can’t find the bright side anymore. I think that’s when she turns and in her own way became a version of her Man in Black. She surrenders to this character Wyatt and decides to change. It’s her only way of escape. The moment where she gets up off the ground and refuses to be a victim anymore and fights back for the first time, that was pretty huge.”

Jeffrey Wright (Bernard/Arnold)


“It was the series of scenes revealing Arnold. Those were key metaphorical, meditational exploration for Bernard. And they also represented, for me anyway, my core understanding of one of the large questions that the show poses around identity and consciousness and being and memory and humanness. I found that whole process really tripped out and intriguing in the best way. It’s in line with some of the other post-characters because it really does mirror humanness and human self-reflection and all of these things that the audience meditates on to some extent among other things in the show. So, if I had to choose one scene, it would be that sequence of being tortured in the laboratory by Anthony Hopkins.”

Jeffrey Wright, from left, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Anthony Hopkins make up some of the cast of HBO’s new series, “Westworld.” The actors were photographed in Beverly Hills on July 30.
Jeffrey Wright, from left, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Anthony Hopkins make up some of the cast of HBO’s new series, “Westworld.” The actors were photographed in Beverly Hills on July 30.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (creators)

“The scene in the finale in which Evan’s character and James Marsden’s character, Teddy and Dolores, collapse on the beach after trying to flee and she dies in his arms,” Nolan says. “Then Ford [Anthony Hopkins] appears and it’s revealed that this is all part of his narrative and part of the show that he’s putting on for his board members and investors and bigwigs. There are so many important scenes throughout the season, but this one kind of gets at many of the different levels that the show is operating on. It was also a really complicated scene to shoot for our actors and one of the ones in rehearsals in which we really started getting to a place with Evan and James in which we were sort of exploring the end of the envelope in terms of [their performances] and what their characters are doing in this moment.”


Nolan notes, “We were trying to build an emotional authenticity. It’s a moment between the two of them, and then having this sort of velour curtain come up and, oh, it’s really just this almost obscene moment in which you realize that they’re not alone, they’re not heading into this tragic moment, that it’s put on for the benefit of the humans who own the place. So we knew we wanted to get to this moment. As we wrote through the season it became clear that they had to be at the very end of her journey, of Dolores’ journey through the season.”

Joy adds, “On the one hand, the scene seems like the apex of Ford’s manipulations of people but, on the other hand, and I think this is thanks to Tony’s performance, there’s this look as he’s telling the techs to take away Dolores and get Teddy cleaned up that’s so much more complex than just evil. I think it hints at the fact that this new narrative that he’s just launched might not be what we think, might not be about subjugating the hosts but might be about something entirely different, something more complex that we haven’t yet ascertained.”

Get our daily Envelope newsletter