Westworld is HBO's next smash hit in the making, and it's landing on NOW TV this week. Here's all the inside info you need before watching...

Still searching for something big, bold and thrilling to fill that Game of Thrones shaped hole? HBO and NOW TV have got you more than covered this autumn thanks to Westworld – the upcoming big budget TV adaptation of 1973’s acclaimed western sci-fi movie.

But what’s it about, who’s starring, and what do you need to know before diving in? Hold your horses! Here’s everything you need to know…

Westworld: The original movie

Released in 1973, Westworld was written and directed by Michael Crichton, whose name you may recognise from the cover of sci-fi classics The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, among others. As with the latter, the plot of the movie focussed on a futuristic amusement park – one in which tourists could go and live among hyper realistic androids in Roman, Medieval, and Wild West settings.

But, as is usually the case with these setups, the park’s guests soon find themselves in over their heads as the Androids start to act up and run amok. Fun fact: with the park scientists likening the way the androids infect each other to how we catch colds, Westworld features one of popular culture’s first ever mentions of the notion of a ‘computer virus.’

Upon its release Westworld was a critical and commercial hit, but seems to have sunk into relative obscurity these days. Enter stage left: the TV tour de force that is HBO…

Westworld: The new TV show

Unsurprisingly, the Westworld TV show will follow a similar thread to the movie, with HBO calling it “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” A movie remake had actually been in the works at Warner Bros since the mid-90s, but once that eventually fell apart HBO swooped in and ordered a pilot.

Whilst nobody knows exactly how the plot of the show will play out, we do know some crucial details. As with the 1973 original, the show will focus partly on two friends (William and Logan), who arrive at the park just as things start hotting up. The character of ‘gunslinger’ from the movie is also a definite as the show’s main antagonist – think The Terminator meets Clint Eastwood.

Where the show will differ, however, is that it’ll scrap the Roman and Medieval worlds to focus solely on the artificial Wild West town. And as for thematic differences? The simple ‘robots gone wrong’ plotline will be neatly spun on its head, with the show set to dwell on the robots’ slow realisation that they’re not real humans, and that their whole lives are an elaborate sham. It’ll also explore the ethics, politics and moral ambiguity of the park’s behind-the-scenes staff, lead by its creative director, Dr Robert Ford.

Westworld: The cast and crew

Dr Ford will be played by Anthony Hopkins, lending the show some meaty A-list gravitas right out of the gates. But he’s joined by a host of household names such as James Marsden (who you’ll recognise as Cyclops from the X-Men original movies) and Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible 2, The Chronicles of Riddick), alongside Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind, The Rock) as the park’s notorious android Gunslinger.

Behind the camera, things get even more interesting. The show’s being penned by Jonathan Nolan and his wife Lisa Joy. Jonathan is brother to Christopher, siblings who have collaboratively written a slew of box office masterpieces like The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Interstellar, to name just a few.

Jonathan Nolan also sits as co-producer alongside none other than J.J Abrams (and his longtime collaborator Bryan Burk), who’ve co-helmed Lost, the recent Star Trek and Mission Impossible movies, and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. All in all, it’s a mighty impressive roster, and as such, early preview reviews have been hugely positive of the show’s atmosphere, cast and direction.

Westworld: How and when to watch

Sky Atlantic will be the home of Westworld in the UK, which means you’ll be able to catch it on NOW TV Entertainment on a variety of devices – from set top boxes, to mobile devices, to games consoles and more. The pilot episode’s UK air date will be 9pm tomorrow night – 4 October.

And the really good news? If you sign up to a Vodafone Red Value Bundle you’ll be able to grab a NOW TV Entertainment Pass at no extra cost, which means you’ll be able to catch up with Westworld wherever you go!

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