Ben Barnes broke his foot before arriving to the first day of shooting. Being afraid of losing the job, he didn't tell anyone, and just used the limp to look like a character choice. He then had to maintain the limp throughout filming.
Writer, Producer, and Director Jonathan Nolan describes this show as "the next chapter of the human story, in which we stop being protagonists."
After filming the sixth episode, production shut down for two months. According to HBO, this was done to give the creative team more time to prepare the last episodes of the first season.
The repetitive three chord phrase, often heard in the background music, comes from Westworld (1973), where it underscored the Gunslinger's slow, but relentless pursuit of the hero.
Early on in the series, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) hands Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) a copy of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, and she reads a passage aloud. Much of her dialogue thereafter is similar to Alice in the book, as well as the overall theme of questioning one's reality. At one point in the book, Alice exclaims "I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!"
In the below-ground storage area for decommissioned androids, you can see a globe statue at the bottom of the dilapidated escalators. An identical one was on display in the arrival area in Futureworld (1976), the sequel to Westworld (1973), hinting that older areas of the original park have been abandoned. In fact, if you look closely at the globe, you can see the word "Delos" spelled out along the circumference, the name of the company that owns the park.
The quote "These violent delights have violent ends" is from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
The modern songs heard on the player piano, in the Mariposa Saloon and Hotel, are the idea of Jonathan Nolan. Nolan and Composer Ramin Djawadi explained that the covers are to remind people that the world is a theme park, and that everything is scripted. The songs are chosen by Nolan.
Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy wanted to give the series a Blade Runner (1982) feel, and wanted to make the series much darker and cerebral than the 1973 film.
In one scene, a character refers to the only "rule" of Westworld being that you cannot die. The name of the company that runs Westworld is "Delos", which is also the name of a Greek island, known for the earliest case of "Prohibition of Death", a political social phenomenon and taboo, in which a law is passed stating that it is illegal to die.
The train arriving at Westworld is set on a flatbed truck driving up and down State Route 128 in Utah. So when characters are looking out the train window, they're actually looking at the Utah landscape, not a greenscreen. The showrunners chose Utah, as they wanted the show, and the park, to have the feel of the vast landscapes.
Warner Brothers had been trying to remake Westworld (1973) since the 1990s. In 1996, Michael Crichton, the Writer and Director of the film, met with J.J. Abrams, wanting him to write the screenplay, but Abrams was unable to come up with a way he thought worked. In 2000, Joel Silver was announced to be working on the remake. Silver hired Richard D'Ovidio to write the screenplay. In 2002, Arnold Schwarzenegger was announced to star in and produce the film with John Brancato and Michael Ferris writing a new screenplay. Schwarzenegger subsequently left the project when he was elected Governor of California. In 2005, Tarsem Singh was announced as the director. In 2007, Quentin Tarantino claimed he had been offered the film. In 2008, Billy Ray was hired to write a new screenplay. In 2013, Abrams pitched the idea of a television series to Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. As Nolan told Deadline: "J.J. came to Lisa and me with the suggestion that Westworld wasn't to be realized as a movie, since it had been ripped off so many times, and inspired a number of science fiction films, rather a television series from the robots' point of view."
Jonathan Nolan took inspiration from video games like BioShock Infinite (2013), Red Dead Redemption (2010), and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) to deal with the narrative's moral component on a spectrum.
Jonathan Nolan named the town Sweetwater after the farm in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), which is his favorite western.
The Man In Black's unusual pistol is a rare LeMat 1861 revolver. It features a nine-shot .42 caliber cylinder, with an additional single-shot twenty gauge shotgun barrel. While the real LeMat was notoriously unreliable, a presumably perfected version would give its owner a serious firepower advantage over a typical Wild West six-shooter.
In the unaired pilot, Miranda Otto played a character named "Virginia Pittman". As reported by Entertainment Weekly, after the pilot, producers re-conceived the role, and Otto left the show. She was replaced by Sidse Babett Knudsen, with the character now named Theresa Cullen.
The first modern song played by the player piano is "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden.
The second television spin-off of Westworld (1973) after the series Beyond Westworld (1980).
When interrogating "hosts" in the repair center, Westworld technicians frequently use verbal commands derived from computer software debugging. The commands "step into" and "resume" are used to arbitrarily run specific sections of a program's source code and examine the results one at a time.
The use of the player piano throughout the series appears to reference Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s first novel, "Player Piano", which describes a dystopian future, in which almost every aspect of human life is automated. In his novel, the protagonist rails against a life devoid of purpose or choice, thanks to the ubiquity of machines. The reality outside the confines of Westworld, has been alluded to as a similar world, where the mundane daily tasks of life have been automated, and where there is no unemployment. However, one of the guests complains that this has left a world where humans have "no agency".
The name Dolores is derived from a Spanish reference to the Virgin Mary: "la virgen de los Dolores", or "nuestra Senora de los Dolores," meaning "The Virgin", or "our Lady of sorrows". "Dolores" in Spanish means "sorrows" or "pain".
The saloon is one of the sets at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio in Newhall, California. The replica frontier town was once owned by Gene Autry.
An orchestral adaptation of Paint it Black, by The Rolling Stones, is played during the street shooting scene.
The way the horse is moving in the opening sequence is a reference to "The Horse in Motion" by Eadweard Muybridge.
Some scenes are filmed at Paramount Ranch. It's been used by Paramount Pictures since 1923, but not just for westerns. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000), Weeds (2005), and The X-Files (1993) are among the shows that have also filmed scenes there.
When you see the original gunslinger in the basement, the background music and noise is from Westworld (1973).
During times of danger in the show, there is a series of two notes that are played (on a natural scale) from Middle E to Middle D sharp. These two notes are famous in the Western genre of movies. They are particularly known as the first two notes from "Man with a Harmonica", which was the theme of the character known as "Harmonica", who was played by Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
Gary Oldman was considered for the role of Bernard. Oldman had worked with the show's Creator Johnathan Nolan in The Dark Knight trilogy.
The man in the circle in the opening sequence is a reference to the "Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo da Vinci.
The first season was a massive success, and averaged 11.7 million viewers per episode across multiple platforms, according to HBO, the most ever for a freshman drama.
Filming for episode one took place during a twenty-two-day period in August 2014, in and around Los Angeles, California, as well as Moab, Utah.
In the first episode, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) engages in conversation with one of the first, now-defunct robots to occupy Westworld. The robot is played, in a cameo, by a heavily made-up Michael Wincott, who appeared as serial killer Ed Gein opposite Hopkins in Hitchcock (2012) (with Hopkins in the title role).
The Cure 's "A Forest" is featured on the show's player piano as an instrumental cover.
The tune played throughout the series, Arnold's son favorite tune, was the song "Wilderness", from the PC game Dink Smallwood (1997). The song was actually composed by Claude Debussy, and it's called "Reverie".
The player piano rolls used in the opening sequences, as well as various episodes, were custom made for this show by Tim Baxter of Meliora Music Rolls in Atlanta, Georgia.
The two technicians, "Felix" and "Sylvester", are named after the two animated cats of the same names. Felix is the nice one, who tries to save a dead bird. Sylvester is the nasty one, who thinks it's a waste of time. The bird even bites Sylvester when he tries to catch it. There is a deeper level also. Sylvester isn't mean just because he is a cat or human. Felix proves that.
Instrumental covers of Radiohead songs are featured four times in this show. "No Surprises" and "Fake Plastic Trees" on the player piano. "Motion Picture Soundtrack", covered by Vitamin String Quartet "Exit Music (For a Film)".
The town was filmed in Melody Ranch, in Calfornia's Santa Clarita Valley. Other Western productions were filmed here, including the series The Lone Ranger (1949), HBO's Deadwood (2004), and The Magnificent Seven (2016).
Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores Abernathy) and Louis Herthum (Peter Abernathy) appeared in True Blood (2008), though they never appeared in a scene together. Wood played the Louisiana Queen of the vampires, and Herthum played the pack leader of the Shreveport werewolves.
The original Westworld (1973) was Michael Crichton's first story about a theme park that goes wrong. The better known one was, of course, Jurassic Park (1993). In that film, Sir Richard Attenborough played the inventor of the park. In this series, the park's inventor is played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who appeared in five films directed by Attenborough: Magic (1978), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Young Winston (1972), Chaplin (1992), and Shadowlands (1993).
Arnold Schwarzenegger had watched Westworld (1973), and studied Yul Brynner's performance, in preparation for playing his character in The Terminator (1984).
The taxidermied water buffalo head, which hangs above the bar in the saloon, is an African Cape water buffalo. Water buffalo are not related to the American species bison, which are sometimes commonly called "American Buffalo".
Although the time of the series is never stated, the dates seem to work for it to be a true sequel to the original movie. The movie was made in 1973, but it was set in 1983.
Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer were considered for the role of Dr. Robert Ford.
Ed Harris starred in The Truman Show (1998), also dealing with a fake reality, wherein everything is scripted, and is envisioned for entertainment.
Episode 3 in season one mentions that the guests pay $40k a day for their stay in the park.
Eion Bailey was originally cast as Logan, but had to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts.
In Dr. Ford's office, he has a section of wall covered in faces (presumably hosts). This could be a reference to another highly rated HBO series, Game of Thrones (2011). In that show, the Faceless Men of the House of Black and White have a room where they keep the faces of the victims that their Many-Faced God has told them to kill.
William (Jimmi Simpson) comes to Westworld with Logan (Ben Barnes). On Person of Interest (2011), the previous show that Jonathan Nolan created, Jimmi Simpson played a character named Logan.
Producer J.J. Abrams was mentored by Steven Spielberg, who also directed Jurassic Park (1993). Spielberg first met Michael Crichton while Robert Wise was directing The Andromeda Strain (1971). Robert Wise directed Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), and Abrams directed Star Trek (2009).
In season one, episode four, "Dissonance Theory", William and Logan storm into a ranch that's been taken over by thieves and bandits. The wood stove clearly says "Indianapolis", which refers to a company located in Indianapolis, Indiana, a real company which made wood stoves like the ones seen in the show. However, this particular model with the side-flue feature wouldn't have been made until later in the 1800s, possibly early 1900s.
The character Ford has the same last name as real-life film director John Ford, which is famous for making westerns. Among them My Darling Clementine (1946), Clementine being the name of one of the characters in the series. The name of the character Arnold, in turn, bears likeness to Jack Arnold, a film director famous for making science-fiction films.
Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris appeared in Nixon (1995) and The Human Stain (2003).