Westworld: Ed Harris on the Man in Black

The Westworld star talks to us about his enigmatic character

While Westworld superficially shares a lot of similarities with the 1973 movie, there are slight… differences. Take Ed Harris’s Man in Black, for example. We immediately had him pegged as the counterpart of Yul Brynner’s Gunslinger, but as it turns out, there’s a bit of a twist.

We caught up with Harris at the TCAs to talk about his role and tease what’s up ahead…


Can you tell us a bit about how the show differs from the film?
Obviously one major difference between the movie and the TV show is that I’m a human being. Yul Brynner was a great robot, but a robot.

The technology is much more advanced than the ’70s movie and it’s not quite as campy. The basic premise is there though – that there is a theme park with robots with artificial intelligence and you live out your fantasies, whatever they might be, with total immunity. It’s not a very bright picture.


From what we’ve seen, he’s quite a unique character. What are his motivations?
When he (his character) first went to the park 30 years ago he wasn’t the man in black. This is something he’s developed over the years. I think he realised, coming to this place where you’re free to exorcise whatever demons you have in you, that he had this side of him that he probably had repressed most of his life. Suddenly he realises, “This is a genuine part of me, this is a real part of me.”


Can you tease what’s planned for the rest of the season?
They (Jonah and Lisa) don’t always tell you the arc – I think they haven’t figured it out yet, so you’ve just got to do what you know. You’re just doing it episode by episode and hoping that things tie together and make sense. The things that I found out about my character later in the shooting, looked back on what I had done or how he had been written up to that point, it didn’t seem to be inconsistent but if I had known a couple of things about the character beforehand, it would have influenced the way I play him, maybe.

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.