Programmed to thrill: sci-fi hit Westworld's finale 'satisfying,' promises star Jimmi Simpson
Series not gratuitous and finale will be gratifying, pledges star
For Westworld fans trading wild theories about where the headline-grabbing HBO series is headed, Jimmi Simpson has been in your shoes.
"I've seen all of them and they're amazing," the American actor said of the fanciful fan speculation about the cable network's thrilling science-fiction series, concluding its dramatic — and controversial — first season this weekend.
That same type of guessing game took place amid Westworld's stars during the show's months of filming, since the actors only received the scripts one episode at a time, he told CBC News.
"We were all obsessed and doing the same thing," said Simpson, who plays William, a newcomer to the show's titular amusement park who serves as the audience's surrogate.
Since its debut in October, Westworld has become the network's latest must-watch series. Inspired by writer Michael Crichton's 1973 movie of the same name, Westworld is set in the near-future, where the rich can indulge their every whim or fantasy in an artificially created realm populated by synthetic humans expressly created to service them.
The notion of indulging any and every desire with complete impunity fuelled early controversy over the show's sexual and physical violence, specifically toward female characters and especially protagonist Evan Rachel Wood, who portrays the artificial park "host" Doloros.
That aspect of the series took on a separate, sobering context after Wood's recent revelation that she herself has survived two sexual assaults.
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Creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan are making a statement with each element of the story and it's never gratuitous, Simpson said.
Each shocking moment, "each kind of aggression on Dolores, well, it's part of the story and it's not just to hook you in," he noted.
"You're supposed to feel upset. It's not going to leave you hanging, because it'll come back around."
Simpson, who said he bonded with Wood onscreen and in real life thanks to Westworld's lengthy days of filming and 10-month shoot, added that he's incredibly proud of his co-star for "taking her voice and sharing it" in revealing her own experiences with sexual violence.
Wood was able to address a painful, unpleasant topic "in a way where you go, 'Oh, I get you!'" he said.
"She expresses new ideas in a way where other people can understand where she's coming from, and it's wonderful."
Season won't end with a cliffhanger
Simpson, best known for smaller but memorable roles in series like House of Cards and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, said Westworld is resonating with audiences because showrunners Joy and Nolan are exploring a topic people everywhere are grappling with: technology taking over our lives and how we live with that.
"They've made a kind of a gorgeous narrative of what we're all about to experience and are experiencing now," he said of Joy and Nolan, who are married.
And while he refused to divulge any secrets, Simpson doubled down on an earlier statement and said the duo have crafted a gratifying end to season one.
"There is more satisfaction in this finale than in a lot of finales where you don't know where you're headed," he allowed.
"[Joy and Nolan] give you some answers, but then you see a future, too. You see whole new questions being raised and then you start picturing another season, another story that's gonna be coming your way," he said.
"That's tough to do."
The season one finale of Westworld airs Sunday, Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.
With files from Deana Sumanac