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James Marsden on Being ‘Bot Mode’ in HBO’s Westworld.

By Flora  /  01 Dec 2016 (Thursday)

“There is nothing that happens in the show by accident… Everything is there meticulously planned with great precision,” said the very charming Marsden in an interview yesterday morning. He was in town for a promotional tour to talk about the latest HBO hit Sci-fi series ‘Westworld’ where Marsden plays a robot, Teddy Flood, in a fantastical Western-themed adventure park where humans can do anything and everything they desire in this park. 

For those who have yet to binge-watch on all the episodes of season 1, robots in Westworld are called 'hosts', while the rich human beings who pay to enter the park are labelled as 'guests'. Now that we’ve got all these sorted out, Marsden shares his filming experiences in the HBO’s newest show that also stars Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton. 

(Learn more about the characters in 'Westworld' here!)



“Evan calls it an acting Olympics,” he laughed, when asked about the numerous times he had to die and get rebooted in the series.

“That is really fun to jump from the different modes. It’s almost like you’re playing three to four different characters at once, so that’s really exciting. I was always questioning if this was working, or if the audience is registering this shift. The things that are different for me to wrap my head around is everything that happens to Teddy in his timeline, is happening for the very first time. The man in black could have killed me 50 times, but each time it happens, it’s Teddy’s first time to experience that.” 

He added: “It’s really just a gearshift. In one scene, Robert (Hopkins) programs a new narrative and in that moment it’s immediate. It’s almost like the directors say ‘action’ to your new character, your new storyline. So you have to make that shift seamlessly and believably as well.”

Photo Credit: HBO Asia

Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld is based on the 1973 film of the same name and is also executive produced by J.J. Abrams, along with Joy and Nolan. 

“We were definitely doing our own thing with Westworld with Jonathan and Lisa, as they had their own specific way they wanted to approach playing these characters. His main direction (to me) was: ‘You are a human and play this as you would as a human and if there are moments where I need you to show that you are a robot, I’ll let you know; and if there is a moment where I need you to register a shift in an idea or a trajectory then I’ll ask for it and you’ll give me that.’ So he has masterfully come in and sort of adjusting us here and there. From the most part, you approach these characters as if they are real and they should be indistinguishable from humans.”

The actor who has also starred as Cyclops in the X-Men trilogy shared: “Westworld is like a Virtual Reality - you’re there with the other characters and you can pull a trigger at somebody or go to a brothel and misbehave. You’re acting on all these impulses that you can’t do in the normal world where it has consequences,” adding his views about the appeal. “Like we’ve said it in the show is ‘Westworld is whatever you’ve wanted to be’, and sometimes it’s a dark, disturbing fantasy and sometimes it’s as simple as a ride down the sunset. You see the humans acting on it and it says a lot about us.

Photo Credit: HBO Asia

When asked about his memorable nude scene where he had to be naked in front of his co-star who happens to be one of the legendary actors in modern cinematic history - Anthony Hopkins, Marsden joked: “It’s amazing when you know you have to be naked acting opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins.. that gets you in the gym pretty quick!” 

He added: “I find the best thing in Westworld is to dive in and go for it. If you have any apprehension or if you hesitate, it’s not going to be as fun. Evan and Thandie, Rodrigo and all of us at some point or one point or another end up nude on the table talking to people. So it’s just part of the character that you’re playing. And I don’t know... you learn not to be too shy in the business.”
Don’t miss the final episode, airing same time as the U.S. on Monday, 5 Dec at 10am, with the same day primetime encore at 9pm on HBO (StarHub Ch 601)!

Are you a fan of Westworld? What do you love about the series? Let us know in the comments below!
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