Westworld: Anthony Hopkins on playing control freaks

The former Dr Lecter talks AI and playing God in Westworld

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One of the most prominent themes in Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s upcoming update of Westworld is mankind’s tendency to play God, and the consequences of their actions. In this case, ‘God’ is Dr Robert Ford, played by none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins, who gives a fittingly understated yet chilling performance as the park’s mysterious creator.

We spoke to him at the TCAs about his experiences working on Westworld and why he comes back to similar roles time and again…

 

You play Dr Robert Ford, the creator of Westworld and another mysterious character. What is it that draws you to these roles?
I knew what scares people when I was a kid – that’s the art of the control freak. I’m not a control freak in my life, I’m the opposite. But they keep casting me as control freak nuts. I always make an attempt to go the opposite of what an audience would expect.

Elia Kazan once had to play a gangster, and met one of Al Capone’s buddies. This guy said – “you don’t have to holler. They know who you are. If you’re playing a killer be very quiet.”

 

What was it about Westworld that intrigued you?
Artificial intelligence is very interesting. I was on holiday recently up in Ohio and I was having lunch, this young guy sitting at the table opposite me. He worked at MIT in artificial intelligence. I told him about Westworld. He said it’s very unlikely we’ll ever be able to create a living cell. He didn’t think we’d ever create Westworld robots.

I saw the original years ago, and then my agent said that Jonah wanted to cast me and would I read the script. We met, and I was intrigued by it, and so I said yes.
What was your experience like filming Westworld?
I enjoyed the whole process – I didn’t know from one day to the next what I was going to be doing next. So I’d email Jonathan [Nolan] – “What’s coming up?” He said, “We’ll have it by Friday. It’s okay.” They were reluctant to send it by email because it’s all very secretive so the script would come under armed guard, or something. and there were always surprises when I’d find out about other characters and what they really were.

Westworld will air on Sky Atlantic from 4 October 2016. Read our full behind-the-scenes feature in issue 124 of SciFiNow, on sale now.