James Brolin Still Wants To Play A Villain On HBO’s Westworld As His Original Westworld Movie Turns 50

Almost 50 years ago, before Jurassic Park was even a glimmer in Michael Crichton’s eye, the author wrote and directed his first resort experience gone haywire with Westworld. The 1973 movie was kind of a test run for Crichton’s future adventure, putting him on a map as a screenwriter and directing talent. 

As HBO Max subscribers await this weekend’s premiere of the modern adaptation’s fourth season, original film star James Brolin is still pretty excited about potentially playing a villain in the current Westworld reimagining. Talking with Brolin during his press day for Lightyear, we closed out our discussion with the subject of why he hasn’t appeared on Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan’s Westworld series. 

Most legacy-quels or reboots would kill to have that sort of casting on the roster, even one as impressively cast as the HBO sci-fi hit. James Brolin told CinemaBlend about his enthusiasm for the prospect, as well as what he feels would have sweetened his odds: 

It's so funny, because I literally said I would have loved to have gone on and been a heavy on the show, you know. Played like whatever Yul Brynner played. … In this business, you have to show them what you can do. So I should have done, you know, a little one minute thing, in a getup with a scar or something.

Thinking back to the first season of Westworld, the subversion of Yul Brenner’s Man in Black, also known as "the Gunslinger," could have been an interesting role for James Brolin to have played. What makes Brolin's pitch all the more exciting is recalling what his fate in the 1973 film happened to be. And, of course, it involved the Man in Black himself. 

James Brolin's character, John Blaine, was just another park visitor who wanted to turn a friend onto the wonders of Westworld. Luring Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) into the experience, he promised him that nothing could possibly harm them. Unfortunately, that was the day that the automated denizens of Delos' three-world theme park got the memo to go rogue. The Gunslinger happened to do what he did best, and Brolin was on the wrong end of such a happening, as you'll see in the clip from 1973's Westworld

In the HBO series, the character of a gunslinger clad in black turned out to be something very different when comparing Westworld’s series to the original film. Through Ed Harris' Man in Black, the story of who's really the greater danger in our world found one of its strongest seeds. It certainly would have given Brolin his chance to play the heavy from the word go, as the show’s pilot episode already showed its Man in Black engaging in some non-heroic behavior.

Much to James Brolin’s point above, a test reel of a Gunslinger scene from 1973’s Westworld could have done wonders for getting him on the HBO variant’s cast list. Even if it wasn’t something officially submitted through agents and the proper channels, such a clip could trigger an effect similar to when Deadpool’s test footage was leaked

The big difference that Brolin thinks a self-taped audition could have made comes down to the matter of typecasting. At least, that’s what he laid out in the conclusion of his Westworld remarks: 

They see you as the guy that ran Hotel, you know. I always felt that, after doing a series, you have to wait five years before they can ever picture you as somebody else. Unless you go and show them … then they say, ‘Oh, you’re a great actor, because you’re totally different than the other guy.’

James Brolin almost shook those sort of preconceptions in casting with a rather unique opportunity that he’d received earlier in his career. As the Roger Moore era of James Bond almost saw the actor leaving the franchise after For Your Eyes Only, Brolin got to audition for 007 and had the role locked up. That was, until Roger Moore had decided to come back for his final two installments. While the result wasn't what he'd hoped, James Brolin showed the world what he could do as Bond, which probably helped him land future roles in the process.

Knowing from personal experience, and with his interest in returning to Westworld still in the air, perhaps it’s time for James Brolin to film an audition for a future role on the HBO series. Then again, the ending of Lightyear has all of the components to show that Brolin’s Zurg is a great audition for a more terrifying mechanized menace.

If anyone at Disney/Pixar wants to make those recording sessions available, that might be the key to bringing James Brolin back to the world threatened by fallout of Delos Destinations’ creations. Only this time, let’s make sure it’s through totally legal methods, like home video special features or internet sizzle reels.

Audiences looking to seek out Lightyear can currently enjoy that film exclusively in theaters. Meanwhile, Westworld Seaosn 4's violent delights begin this Sunday at 9 PM ET, only on HBO and HBO Max. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.