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Ed Harris has popped up in TV programs in the past, but he’s not a TV man, instead focusing on film roles in a career that has spanned nearly four decades and has nabbed him Oscar nominations four times. Yet this week he has become the latest actor to help usher in a new era of TV where TV projects are given as much notice from the a-listers as some of the best films on the market. On Monday, it was announced that the Snowpiercer actor has taken a role in HBO’s latest project, Westworld.
The HBO series is a sci-fi project and sort-of a western, based on a 1973 film written and directed by bestseller Michael Crichton. In the TV reimagining, Harris is set to play “The Man in Black,” the biggest baddie in Westworld who is described by THR as “the distillation of pure villainy into one man.” While Harris isn’t often a TV guy, the Westworld role won’t be his first on HBO. Back in 2012, the actor starred in the original TV movie Game Change at the subscription cable network, where he portrayed U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful John McCain.
Of course, Westworld is a whole different sort of project. The science fiction series is set in an amusement park featuring androids that cater to the human guests’ needs and whimsies. It seems like a Westworld adaptation has been tossed around in Hollywood for some time; back in 2007 writer Billy Ray was working on a screenplay adaptation of the project that never gained momentum. This time around, there are some huge names involved.
Anthony Hopkins will also be taking his first big TV role in Westworld, and he and Harris will be joined by a slew of prominent names and even some other actors familiar to HBO. True Blood’s Evan Rachel Wood and Boardwalk Empire’s Jeffrey Wright have signed on to the series, as have The Last Stand’s Rodrigo Santoro and Raising Hope actress Shannon Woodward, whose show was canceled this past spring. Additionally, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Jonathan Nolan are behind the project, as well, with the former executive producing and the latter co-writing, executive producing and directing the pilot.
With all of the high-profile talent involved, it’s no wonder that the pilot seems to be moving into production at a rapid rate. Since HBO is not constricted into network television’s timeline of pilots and premieres, we could be hearing about Westworld getting greenlighted for a series order sooner rather than later. With all of the prominent names involved, it would be a damn shame if the android and amusement park adaptation didn’t move forward to series. Either way, we’ll keep you updated.