News

Westworld’s James Marsden on the Season Finale, Season 2, and That Gatling Gun

Actor plays HBO series' earnest cowboy who rediscovered his dark past in episode 9

by | December 2, 2016 | Comments

Westworld Episode 6: James Marsden. (John P. Johnson/HBO)

The season finale of Westworld is finally here, and for every question it answers, it will probably raise three more. The good news: HBO renewed the series for a second season.

James Marsden, who plays the show’s earnest cowboy Teddy, spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about his hopes for the season finale and beyond. The cast can’t give away any spoilers, of course, but Marsden’s hints about what’s to come are the perfect tease.

Last week’s episode, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” was deadly for Teddy. He learned that he was — in one narrative at least — a sheriff slaughtering innocent townspeople in the streets, before being stabbed in the gut himself. As we know, Westworld’s hosts can just wake right back up at the beginning of their narratives. This isn’t Teddy’s first death; in fact, the promo for the season finale shows Teddy riding the train into town yet again, and another shot of Teddy in sleep mode with Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins).


Westworld Episode 5: Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden. (John P. Johnson/HBO)

Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Teddy’s come quite a long way from riding on the train to see Dolores, hasn’t he?

James Marsden: Yes, it’s gone by really quick, but it hasn’t been without really rich, dense story, which hopefully people are enjoying. As far as I can see, they are. Yeah, it feels like it started yesterday.

RT: When Teddy changed his narrative, was that a big shift for you?

Marsden: It was. We were kept relatively out of the loop as far as where the story was going. We would get scripts in time, but sometimes not until a couple days before, so we never knew where our characters were going and what was going on with them. There were conversations and Jonah [Nolan] and Lisa [Joy] were always very open to listening to us fire away our questions. “We just want to know what we’re doing when we’re there on set and what you want from us and what you want to see.”

Westworld: James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood (John P. Johnson/HBO)

There was a conversation between Evan [Rachel Wood] and I three-fourths of the way through. We went, “Wait a second, we as actors are hosts. That’s us. We’re given a narrative. We play out this narrative for other people’s entertainment, and they yell cut. They reset us, and we do it again.” [Laughs] But it was a great shift for the character in that it gave him some depth and some story line that has not been fully revealed yet. It’s always great when there’s a lot more under the surface.

RT: What were some of your questions for Jonah and Lisa that have been answered so far?

Marsden: Even the actors were theorizing about what the big reveal was going to be. Who is this Wyatt character? Are any of the humans hosts? So I think the big drop so far as been Jeffrey Wright’s character, which gave him a brilliant, complex myriad of emotions to experience. That was one of the bigger ones. There was a little one for me at the beginning when you’re setting it all up, that I was supposed to look like a guest and then it was a gotcha. He’s a host.

There were little ones like that, but I think the show is very ambitious. It asks a lot of the audience to come along with them and pay attention. I think it’s very rewarding when you do. I can’t really talk about any more specific drops, even the ones that have happened. There’s so much more underlying meaning behind and underneath so many of these things that I’ve learned to never speak in true absolutes on the show.


Westworld Episode 3: James Marsden. (John P. Johnson/HBO)

RT: How much is Teddy in the finale?

Marsden: I can’t really talk much about the final episode. It’s a big hush-hush, under-wraps thing. I will say when I read it, my eyes rolled backwards in my head. It’s some of the best writing in whatever format ever. When the puzzle pieces come together, it’s like Oh, God. I was walking around my house for about an hour without saying a word with my mouth open. I think you’ll probably see a good deal of everybody in the finale.

RT: Has any role you’ve played before given you as many questions as Westworld?

Marsden: Yeah, in different ways, I guess. Some roles you approach with the understanding that you’re actually playing a human being who you may or may not relate to. That said, our approach to this is actually one and the same, which is “Let’s forget what their internal organs look like, and let’s present them to the audience as real people, and let’s make them indistinguishable from humans.”

I guess where it gets tricky is when you’re having to navigate the different modes of analysis. Am I in full diagnostic mode where I’m just spewing data? Or am I still in character, but I’m not hearing everything he’s saying? There’s all these different modes they get put in, which was also fun for an actor, just to jump from one to the other. Evan and Thandie [Newton] have done that brilliantly.

Westworld Episode 8: Thandie Newton (John P. Johnson/HBO)

From that sort of technical standpoint, it was challenging, but then in addition to that, it’s really just not knowing where you’re going. When you read a film script, you get the ending. With this, this is definitely esoteric and riddled with mysteries which I love, so that was one of the challenges: going, “Where am I going? Where is Teddy going? Where does his journey end, and what is his endgame?” That’s for everybody really. Am I being vague enough for you?

RT: Yes, I get it. What are your hopes for season 2 of Westworld?

Marsden: My hope for season 2 is that whatever evolution is happening, whatever movement in whatever direction is taking place, that continues to accelerate and crescendo. That’s it, and I mean that by the feel of the show. I mean that by what we see happening with Thandie and Evan. We’ll see. Jonah and Lisa are very good about mapping things out. Nothing is by mistake or accident. It’s all very meticulously plotted. There’s part of me, the fan of the show, who doesn’t want to know. But I can only imagine, having read all 10 episodes, where this will go and it’s very exciting.


Westworld Episode 6: James Marsden as Teddy. (John P. Johnson/HBO)

RT: Was playing with the Gatling gun cool?

Marsden: Yes with the exception of the fact that on one take, it fell over and almost landed on me. I think I swung it a little too hard. That’s a big heavy 400 lb. piece of metal, so that was a little scary, but no one got harmed, and they made sure that didn’t happen again. Yeah, it was very fulfilling, like if I was in Westworld getting to do this as a guest, this would be a lot of fun.

Westworld’s season finale airs on Sunday, December 3 at 9 p.m. on HBO



Westworld season 1 character guide (HBO)

Tag Cloud

Paramount TCA Awards Showtime Trivia critics screen actors guild Binge Guide Chernobyl Best and Worst Holidays Marvel Television cars dc Warner Bros. Calendar DGA reviews movies composers ghosts Brie Larson Baby Yoda black toy story NYCC documentaries mutant pirates of the caribbean NBC what to watch movie technology dramedy spanish 24 frames french X-Men richard e. Grant reboot politics spanish language laika SXSW 2019 Cannes Black History Month asian-american Lucasfilm chucky The Arrangement indiana jones Rocketman Funimation President Tumblr Pet Sematary cancelled TV series sag awards supernatural jurassic park Freeform Academy Awards Dark Horse Comics thriller slashers PBS American Society of Cinematographers Holiday Marvel Studios streaming Hear Us Out Fall TV war The Purge Awards boxoffice Rocky Schedule HBO TCM nbcuniversal name the review unscripted Toys Comic Book adventure Stephen King Food Network E3 classics serial killer TV One CW Seed Extras hollywood Mudbound HBO Go USA Creative Arts Emmys zombies BBC America Pop political drama Hallmark mission: impossible Family adaptation TV Land joker Walt Disney Pictures TruTV Britbox Film Festival medical drama Anna Paquin San Diego Comic-Con Netflix independent 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Song of Ice and Fire FOX a nightmare on elm street biography Pride Month criterion zombie Arrowverse sitcom 45 TV renewals Martial Arts Women's History Month 2016 PlayStation sequel Cartoon Network romance football MCU Star Wars book ABC Family Superheroe GIFs Syfy Fox Searchlight YouTube Elton John Election cats dogs japanese teaser theme song Disney Plus zero dark thirty Pirates SundanceTV Pixar New York Comic Con comic books disaster Apple TV+ Mary poppins Cosplay BET CBS All Access Adult Swim dceu spain SDCC superhero TNT The Academy Ellie Kemper miniseries Travel Channel doctor who Amazon concert news Netflix Christmas movies satire game show best canceled TV shows RT History HBO Max Musical indie Paramount Network ESPN dragons IFC Films Summer Premiere Dates based on movie Polls and Games travel Apple golden globes 2018 WGN FX Rom-Com deadpool finale strong female leads psychological thriller comics Television Critics Association social media Film ID spy thriller sports TCA Winter 2020 werewolf psycho Trailer comic 99% Sony Pictures emmy awards Emmys worst movies CNN First Look Superheroes Sundance Now Podcast cancelled television Amazon Prime Video twilight BET Awards directors WarnerMedia diversity Reality Logo 2017 Set visit 007 cults Fantasy scary movies A&E cancelled DC Comics obituary FXX Interview stoner award winner The CW Alien space facebook children's TV blaxploitation Kids & Family binge latino Red Carpet Western VICE Emmy Nominations 2015 child's play Ovation El Rey james bond scorecard Fox News E! Classic Film Apple TV Plus remakes BAFTA Shudder harry potter RT21 Amazon Prime OneApp Opinion Action Turner Spectrum Originals science fiction Lifetime TBS DirecTV Nickelodeon Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Spike CMT franchise comiccon History Turner Classic Movies venice universal monsters Comedy Bravo Video Games Musicals crime drama kids romantic comedy Rock Nat Geo Comedy Central First Reviews television canceled screenings ABC crime thriller Oscars vampires DC streaming service crime Country christmas movies parents Sundance toronto GLAAD Universal green book films Columbia Pictures LGBTQ VOD south america Esquire MSNBC festivals Mindy Kaling Comics on TV sequels true crime The Witch Disney+ Disney Plus ITV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt IFC Mystery ratings Disney Channel A24 Pop TV versus foreign aliens cinemax Photos casting Disney streaming service batman Marvel Marathons crossover free movies Infographic tv talk Lionsgate Character Guide Epix witnail LGBT Crunchyroll video See It Skip It DC Universe Teen TV Avengers die hard Sneak Peek Nominations nfl animated justice league anthology BBC Ghostbusters Countdown VH1 quibi breaking bad Music Disney Thanksgiving AMC TCA 2020 Valentine's Day OWN Year in Review nature TCA 2017 talk show italian golden globe awards YouTube Premium Biopics Animation 20th Century Fox Quiz spinoff fast and furious USA Network BBC One halloween National Geographic Awards Tour robots Amazon Studios Sci-Fi FX on Hulu GoT MTV ABC Signature trailers Tarantino Writers Guild of America Black Mirror video on demand 72 Emmy Awards PaleyFest anime revenge historical drama cartoon game of thrones Vudu rotten movies we love series Tomatazos worst hist hispanic stand-up comedy australia Mary Tyler Moore dark CBS Hulu Watching Series 4/20 transformers halloween tv rt archives Heroines all-time Box Office singing competition rotten Winter TV comedies Discovery Channel boxing Star Trek festival Captain marvel Peacock docudrama Crackle cooking Reality Competition Television Academy period drama Lifetime Christmas movies fresh Acorn TV The Walt Disney Company Mary Poppins Returns Christmas Grammys stop motion Spring TV archives rom-coms YouTube Red 21st Century Fox Drama Tubi APB Super Bowl elevated horror discovery Endgame YA Winners Shondaland The Walking Dead cops renewed TV shows 71st Emmy Awards Masterpiece cancelled TV shows Trophy Talk police drama jamie lee curtis Starz documentary TIFF blockbuster mockumentary Horror spider-man natural history Certified Fresh TLC Hallmark Christmas movies Sundance TV