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HBO’s upcoming series Westworld has dealt with some controversy over the last few months. Based upon a 1973 film of the same name by Michael Crichton, the series drew some flak last month when it was revealed that the extras working on the show would have to agree to partake in acts wild sexual behaviors on the small screen. While the controversy has drawn a spotlight on the project, those close to the production maintain that the explicit content will work within the context of the series. In fact, star Rodrigo Santoro opened up regarding the Westworld controversy, assuring audiences that the drama will lean upon more than just shock value to sell its content:
It’s not about that. It is much more interesting than that, and it’s part of the whole context of the series. There’s nothing out of context there.
Speaking with Collider, Santoro's words make it seem as if he believes that the context of the show will elevate the sexual content beyond mere gratuity. It’s not as though HBO – or any other premium cable network – has shied away from sex and nudity in the past. Anyone who has watched even one episode of Game of Thrones knows that the network wholly embraces sex and nudity in the name of telling the best possible story.
Admittedly that’s still a pretty hard sell when one considers the outrageous nature of the sex acts that the contract asked of the extras. Among the odd requests in the extras’ contracts included: genital to genital touching, having their genitals painted, and contorting their bodies into the shape of a table – once again in a nude state. The television actor’s union – SAG-AFTRA – asserted that they would get involved to monitor the production and ensure the safety of the extras on set.
Despite the initial reports that the extras would have to partake in acts ripped straight out of a fraternity hazing ritual, HBO went on to address the requests when the controversy began. They came out shortly after the contract went public and provided a sort-of-but-not-quite apology for the requests, stating that while the show would feature graphic content, the network would endeavor to create a professional work environment that did not require anything that would make their workers uncomfortable.
We will see if Santoro’s assessment is accurate when Westworld premieres in 2016. The HBO show centers on a futuristic theme park populated by androids in which people’s deepest and darkest fantasies can become a reality. In addition to Santoro, the project will also star Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood.