Westworld: Interview with Star Ed Harris

Living in Age of Technology

I have been spending the last several days at my home, digging up roots in my driveway, it’s a brick driveway and a big giant pine tree and the roots are massive they buckle up and go under the bricks and it’s a lot of hard work and there is no computer involved and I enjoy every second of it.   I am a lot more comfortable with that than I am with the advance of technology in this world at the moment. But I have an I-Phone and I know how to use it, I do have a computer and I am okay with it.  My daughter helps of course when I have problems with it.  But I am much more savvy on it than my wife I must say.  It’s a very interesting time though obviously, there’s no telling.  You know, when I think of what the world is going to be like when my daughter, who is now 23 is my age, I can’t begin to fathom what is going to be going on. C

Character

Hey, he’s killing artificial intelligence people, not even human beings.  There’s a lot about this character that I cannot talk about that will be revealed as the episodes go on.  I am following my directives.  My director.  As you have seen in the first episode, he has been coming to this park for thirty years.  And there’s a reason that he comes, and there’s a reason that he’s exploring a certain side of himself that had a face at some point that was a real part of himself.  And this is a place and an environment he can exorcise certain demons and at least as far as we know, not hurt anybody.  He’s a very wealthy guy, there’s a lot of history behind him that you will find out about. And I think he thoroughly enjoys it, he is having a pretty good time. (laughs) And he is also on a mission of sorts you know?  He’s trying to find out some things.

 

 

Herve:  DID YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD TIME PLAYING THIS CHARACTER?

I loved playing him.  I had a good time.  I didn’t care how hot it was or where we were, and it was beautiful shooting in Utah, (INAUDIBLE) Ranch.  And one thing about being covered in black, there’s no inch of my skin exposed to the sun and it could have been 110 degrees up there, and because you sweat and then it’s a natural coolant and it evaporates.  And so I never really suffered from the heat.  I mean I sweated a lot, and I had that black hat on and I would take it off and water would just go whoosh!  (laughter) But it was a great crew, I guess you know there was a delay and we stopped shooting at one point, and then we picked back up several months later, so that Jon and Lisa could finish the last three episodes, and that caused a little bit of wrinkles with everybody’s life and other projects, but I was able to go to New York and do a play thanks for Jonah that my wife and I had planned on doing, Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, which we did for three months and then came back and finished up the work.  So it all worked out great.  I am looking forward to the second season.

 

Sam:  JUST TO CLARIFY, HE IS THE ONLY CHARACTER WHO IS IMPENATRABLE.  NONE OF THESE BULLETS GO THROUGH HIM.  WHY IS HE THE ONLY ONE? Well all of the guests, my character is not an artificial intelligence, he is a human being, and the hosts, who are the artificial intelligence people that inhabit this world, they fire little like paintball things, and it doesn’t really affect you.  But the other guests such as myself, can get the same thing happen to them.  You just don’t see in the first episode anybody else getting shot at, I don’t believe.  Any of the technical questions in terms of the details of the show, in terms of how things work in the park, you should really ask Jonah or Lisa.  Because things have also evolved from the beginning of the shoot, in the episodes, things are being clarified as it goes along in terms of how this actually works.

 

Sam:  IT’S INTERESTING SEEING HIM KILLING THESE ANDROIDS BECAUSE THEY ACT LIKE HUMANS.

Yes they do.

 

Sam:  SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT, THAT ACTING PART OF YOU? Well, I mean, the Man in Black, he comes to this park and basically he just wants to be as evil as he possibly can.  I mean, where else can you do that?  And the more quote unquote human the androids are like, the more he finding out about what part of him is, that violent part of him and what that does and what he feels and what he expresses.  But there’s also a certain part of the story which I probably shouldn’t talk about, where the fact that they can’t fight back and be effective, is not something that my character is particularly happy about. He wants this to be like even more real than it is in a certain way.  And I don’t know what happens with that desire, but that is where he is coming from.

 

Noemia:  IF THERE WAS A FANTASY WORLD WHERE YOU COULD GO AND FULFILL A FANTASY, WHAT WOULD THAT BE? I think it would be Birdland, where you could do and fly like a bird wherever you wanted without any kind of apparatus, just soar.  Or go perch in a tree, or go down a mountain or fly along an ocean, like a pelican.

 

 

Noemia:  YOU ALSO SPOKE ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER, SO CAN YOU ALSO SPEAK ABOUT BEING A FATHER? 

It certainly helped Amy and mature as human beings and become a little bit more responsible obviously for someone other than ourselves.  I mean we were out partying pretty hard before she was born.  And I sold my motorcycle, I stopped drinking as much, you calm down and you wake up and you are not thinking about yourself, you are thinking about your child.  And you still do, even though she has just graduated from College and is doing great.  It’s the center of your world in your certain sense, of how this product of your love is getting on in the world.

 

Noemia:  I THINK YOU WILL FRIGHTEN AWAY THE BOYFRIENDS.  (LAUGHTER) Well she’s got one and they are doing pretty good at the moment knock on wood.

 

Scott:  A LITTLE BOY WHO FINDS A STICK IN THE BACKYARD BECOMES A GUN IN FIVE SECONDS.  AND THERE IS SOMETHING JUST INHERENT IN THE DNA OF MEN.  BUT WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE WESTERN, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT PRIMORDIAL SCENARIO THAT WE JUST GRAVITATE TOWARDS?

Well I am not sure nowadays if kids even know are that familiar with the Westerns.  And I grew up in the 50s or 60s where had two dozen Cowboy shows on and that is what we would play in the front yard.  We would play this game where all the kids would line up at once and then the one guy is a shooter and they come at him one at a time and boom, you shoot everybody and you get the chance to fall and whoever does the best fall gets to be the shooter next time.  I mean, there are cowboys and Indians just skulking around the bushes and I mean, it’s not primitive, but it’s like the bare essential, the bare survival kind of thing, where it’s kill or be killed kind of fantasy time.  And it’s nature, you in the natural world and you are on a horse and in a beautiful country and you are not in a throng of hundreds of people walking down Broadway or whatever.

Scott:  IT’S FASCINATING, I AM SURE THE SHOW IT GOING TO PEEL BACK A LOT MORE LAYERS, BUT THERE IS THIS INTERESTING EXAMINATION ABOUT THE GAME CULTURE.  WHAT WE ARE ALLOWING OURSELVES TO BE PUT INTO AND THERE’S LIKE A PUPPET MASTER SO TO SPEAK, LETTING GO OF A LOT OF OUR AUTHORITY, BUT LETTING SOMEONE ELSE TAKE CONTROL.  SO CAN YOU JUST TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT ASPECT OF THE SERIES? Well you know, I probably really can’t to tell you the truth, because as much as I feel, I am a fairly intelligent human being, my whole approach to doing this with Jonah is really, it’s Jonah and Lisa’s vision in terms of what it’s about and the depth of it and what is taking place and what we are discovering.  And I look at it personally as the actor playing the man in black, pretty much solely from his point of view.  And yes there are levels, very deep levels of what he is thinking about and what he is pursuing.  But for me to sit here and articulate it at this moment, I am afraid I can’t do that very well.  I don’t really talk that much to people.  (Laughter)  I mean I talk to my wife about politics and things, but I don’t, I am sorry, I am really not trying to evade any of it. And I do think about things.  But I would much rather think about how to get this root out of the ground than I would about some metaphysical, philosophical problem.  That’s just who I am.

 

Kirpi:  SO YOU MENTIONED THAT YOUR CHARACTER IS AS EVIL AS POSSIBLE. 

Well he is exploring that side of him, yeah.

 

 

Kirpi:  IS THERE A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN SHOW YOUR EVIL SIDE?  WHAT WOULD BE A SAFE PLACE FOR YOU TO GET ANGRY AND BE MEAN? In the interior of my vehicle stuck in traffic.  (Laughter) Even yesterday, I mean I was just screaming.  F this.  Get me out of here.  Move me to Montana.  Drive your F’ing car.  Why the F are you slowing down?  (laughter) Jesus F’ing Christ.  I mean pounding the dashboard.  And this is after doing yoga for an hour, (laughter) two hours prior.  So it’s insane, it’s not healthy.

 

Kirpi:  SO WHAT IS STRESS RELEASE FOR YOU?  YOGA? And working outside.  I really do enjoy doing physical things and whether it actually playing Tennis or something and I have got some acres of property and there is always something to do, there is always some project to get involved in.  And that’s really my therapy because it’s a moment to moment proposition of trying to accomplish something.  And that makes me feel like a whole human being.  And then acting, I love acting, I don’t like sitting in my trailer waiting for two hours to do a shot, and I don’t really, the thrill of being on location has kind of faded greatly over the years, to get that excited about going wherever, but the actual process of acting, doing the work, I love that and I love doing that and that is what my life is about.  And that is what my, your work is your life and my life is my work.  And it’s interchangeable, putting roots is good for me as an actor.  Everything goes into allowing me to be a more creative individual when I am in front of the camera or on stage and that’s kind of where the focus is.  I mean that is why I am sitting here, because of the work.  The actual work.  That is why we are here, because of what creative work we are doing and trying to accomplish.

 

Barbara:  SO PHYSICAL WORK ALSO MEANS IT’S A CREATIVE PROCESS AND YOU GET SOMETHING OUT OF YOUR MIND BUT IT CAN ALSO MEAN THAT YOU ARE FOCUSED ON SOMETHING THAT NEEDS YOUR ATTENTION LIKE THE ROOTS AND AT THE SAME TIME IT CAN CLEAR YOUR HEAD FOR YOUR MENTAL WORK.

Sure.  That’s correct.

 

Barbara:  SO WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE KIND OF A CREATURE OF HABIT? I don’t know, I am not sure what you mean.

Barbara:  WHEN YOU DO CERTAIN THINGS IN A CERTAIN WAY THAT NEEDS A LOT OF ATTENTION AND YOU CAN’T JUST SAY OH I AM IN THE MOOD TODAY, AND IT NEEDS YEARS OF PRACTICING.  ARE YOU A MAN WHO NEEDS CERTAIN THINGS AND A CERTAIN ROUTINE IN HIS LIFE? 

I don’t necessarily need a routine, but I do like to feel that I am accomplishing something.  Even if it’s sitting still and not doing anything, I think that is difficult to do.  But I think it’s a healthy thing to do.  You don’t have to be doing something all the time.  But when I am doing a task, whether it’s washing the dishes or making the bed or walking the dog or brushing my teeth or making love or talking on the phone to my daughter or writing a script or acting or digging up roots or whatever it might be, I like to do it as well as I can.

 

Gilda:  I WAS READING ON IMDB THAT YOU HAVE TWO MOVIES AND TWO MINISERIES THIS YEAR.

I don’t know, what are the TV series ones?  One is Westworld, that is the only one I know about.
 

 

Gilda:  THE ONE PERCENT? Yeah, well see, that is an interesting question because that is an Innaritu project that I read a script of and he asked me to play this character which I said I would be happy to do, but they never shot that.  Unless they had done it and I didn’t know about it.  He has been busy doing The Revenant and other things.

 

Gilda:  SO WE CAN SCRATCH THAT.

Well you can scratch anything you want. (laughter)  I suppose yeah. And the movies, I just finished shooting this Darren Aronofsky picture up in Montreal with Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem and Michelle Pfeiffer and that was really interesting.  That was a trip.  I am not supposed to talk about that either, (laughter) but it was very interesting.

 

Gilda:  AND RULES DON’T APPLY?  A FILM WITH WARREN BEATTY.

Oh okay.  I had worked with Annette on Face of Love and so Warren asked Amy and I to do one scene.  A dinner scene with the kid.  I hear that film is a work in progress, Warren has been cutting that movie for I don’t know how long. (laughter) But I hear it’s pretty cool.  A couple of people I know have seen it, so I am looking forward to it.  But I know he has been trying to make that film for 20 years at least.

 

Sam:  IN WESTWORLD, THE WAY YOUR CHARACTER KILLS THESE GUYS IS QUITE VICIOUS.  HE IS VERY ANGRY WITH THEM, HE SEEMS TO BE. 

Well there is a scene in the second episode which I don’t think you have seen, where he is talking in this little Mexican village, and these bad guys basically come around him, and he says with a smile on his face, this is why I come here.  And he gets up and he does his thing.  So he is not just angry, he is having a good time.  Even when he is dragging her into the bar and he’s going damn it’s good to be back.  There’s a certain, and I don’t know if it’s what Jonah intended and Lisa, but I think there is a certain, as much as this man is in a bit of kind of like a turmoil in a searching thing that he is going through, he has got a certain ability to enjoy it and love it.  And he has a certain sense of humor about it too, hopefully at times.

 

HJ:  DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE GUNFIGHTER OF ALL THE WESTERNS?

I mean I have favorite Westerns, like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of my favorites and Appaloosa is one of my top favorite Westerns, and I thought that was really a great film and I directed that movie, that is why I mentioned that.  (laughter) I don’t know, not really.  Palladin was pretty cool, Richard Boone.  But no, not necessarily.  And John Wayne other than his politics.  He was a pretty good cowboy.

 

HJ:  WHAT ABOUT GREGORY PECK IN GUNFIGHTER?

Yeah, I have seen that movie, it was good.  And High Noon and I mean all the classic Westerns.  3:10 to Yuma is a really good movie, the original one with Glenn Ford.  Excellent film.

 

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