Evan Rachel Wood stars in reimagining of cult 1973 sci-fi movie about androids in western-themed amusement park
Based on a cult 1973 sci-fi movie of the same name, which was written and directed by Michael Crichton and starred Yul Brynner, Westworld is HBO's latest buzzed-about TV series and a reimagining of the malfunctioning amusement park androids-who-kill-visitors concept.
A western theme park "set at the intersection of the near future and the re-imagined past" allows everyone who can afford to pay the opportunity to live out their fantasies without judgment, no matter how depraved or virtuous they are.
Facilitating these fantasies are humanoid actors - known as hosts - created in the lab of mad scientist Dr Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins).
The hosts are so life-like, their artificial intelligence is only noticeable through certain gestures and voice cadences.
Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden and Thandie Newton, among a huge ensemble cast, play hosts, while Ed Harris is a dark character called the Gunslinger.
Westworld, executive produced by Jonathan Nolan (brother of English film-maker Christopher Nolan), Lisa Joy Nolan and J.J. Abrams, premieres on Monday at 9am and 9pm on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601).
Wood joins us at the offices of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to discuss her latest project, and she is a quieter, shyer presence than past headlines about her - from dating US shock rocker Marilyn Manson to her bisexuality to her sexually-charged, strong women roles - would have you believe.
The 29-year-old US actress - who has a three-year-old son with ex-husband, English actor Jamie Bell - plays Dolores Abernathy, a farm girl living on her father's cattle ranch amid canyons and clifftops on the western frontier. She discovers some pretty dark secrets about herself and the world around her.
Wood has called it her favourite and most complex character she's ever taken on.
She says she wasn't familiar with the original movie and didn't watch it until after the first season finished shooting.
"The original was centred on the humans being terrorised by these robots that have malfunctioned. This really focuses more on the hosts and their journey and them really believing they are in a quaint western town and all of this is happening to them. I thought that was such an interesting twist on the original."
She had to figure out how to play Dolores so that viewers would think she was human until certain nuances give her away, and finding that balance of how far to go was "really fun".
"The things that are unsettling about the hosts are the subtleties... the tiny shifts or the blink that may be slightly off. It reminds you that they are not human, but it scares you because it's been so close."
There were other things she had to make decisions about regarding her character.
"We would have to ask questions like, 'Do I sweat? Do I squint when the sun is bright?' It's very detailed, but I loved it. And I did a lot of research about artificial intelligence and what we are working on right now and how close we are to it and how a lot of the technologies that we are exploring in the show aren't that far off. So while it is science-fiction, it is also science-reality at the same time."
The actors only knew their character arcs episode by episode, which could be confusing as they had to repeat certain scenes with slight differences to move the story along.
Wood says: "We didn't know where it was going and we didn't know what was going to happen. So on top of all the little variations of similar dialogue and similar scenes and doing the same thing over and over again, there were also moments where we would be asked to do things and not know why. I am not allowed to know where I am going or why I am? Okay.
"But I never had a moment where I thought I was not in amazing hands and that everyone was at the top of their game on this. So yeah, it was a fun experiment as an actor as I have never done this before."