Nearly two years later, the HBO series is back for round three -- and it's better than ever. If season one was about the maze, and season two was about the door, season three is about "the world," Thandie Newton told ET's Leanne Aguilera at the show's season three premiere last week. "[It's about] the real world."
Westworld's season two finale showed snippets of the world we're in for, as Dolores made it out of the park (with a few friends). Ahead of Sunday's season premiere, here's what the cast -- and creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy -- told ET about what to expect, in their words.
Season 2 Was About Setting the Stage
Evan Rachel Wood: We were never done telling our story in season two. And I think season two's job was to set up a lot of things for this season, and if there was anything confusing or up in the air, I think it falls into place quite nicely in season three and it's a lot more linear. We're supposed to be experiencing things like the hosts are, and the first season was, "What am I?" The second season was, "Where am I?" And I think the third season is, "Who am I?"
It's a Linear Exploration of a Poignant Topic
Wood: I feel like this season unfolds in a way that's less like, "Here's a surprise! And here's a surprise! And here's a surprise!" And more like, all the surprises are saved for the finale. Not all of them, it's still Westworld -- we still have surprises, but the finale was the big shock for me. That was when the big bomb dropped.
Tessa Thompson: I think it's just in general such an exciting season, because I think as hosts, there's this idea of getting out of the park and that in the world, there is freedom, and I think what this season presents is that the world is maybe not as free as we think it is... that humankind is on a loop on its own. And I feel like if we look at the way that we are tethered to our phones and the way that data controls us, it's kind of true, it's not just speculative fiction. I think with the show, the question is asking us a question of today.
Wood: And what are the consequences of today, tomorrow.
It Gets 'Messy'
Aaron Paul: Any fan of Westworld knows that the first two seasons really mainly took place within the walls, the confines, of Westworld. So, Caleb is a character [I play] who sort of introduces the audience to the society beyond the walls of Westworld. He's a complicated guy. He has a complicated past and more and more of those layers are revealed throughout this season of who this guy really is. Not everything really is as it seems, in true Westworld fashion. Even if we're outside the walls of Westworld, it's still very complicated and messy and very similar to the inner workings of Westworld.
It Was in the Cards From the Very Beginning
Jonathan Nolan: We kind of pitched this season right at the end of the pitch for the pilot back in the day, so we always knew that we were going to get here, and we were always incredibly excited. Having built the original world of the show, we had so much fun doing that, but we had a chance here with the same amazing cast and the same amazing crew, to kind of completely reinvent the show around our idea of what we think the future is going to look like if we keep going in the same direction we've been going. So, we're very, very excited with the challenge for that.
Lisa Joy: I think he was just excited to experiment with the future horse, which is this motorcycle
Nolan: Yes, there's a motorcycle.
Joy: There was a lot of time he spent researching and playing with that.
It's All About Perspective
Nolan: Every season has been rooted in the perspective of the hosts. In the first season, Dolores didn't even understand that she was reliving her memories and conflating them with the present. The second season very much taking Bernard's perspective and he's trying to reassemble a fractured mind. The third season follows several characters, but amongst them is Aaron Paul's character, Caleb, and he understands the world that he's in, so consequently, we understand it. If you look at the timelines of the show, and we kind of cascade this season into the present, in a moment in which everyone is in the present -- but we probably won't stay there for very long.