Jonathan Nolan Responds To That Westworld Location Theory

Episode 3 of Westworld aired last night, adding more mystery and asking more questions. Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have responded to the long-running fan theory about Westworld's location. Hit the jump to ride the train into Sweetwater and find out what the Nolans have to say about the infamous Westworld location theory.

In our first Westworld theories article, we presented the possibility that Westworld might not be located on Earth. How could the Delos corporation obtain so much land for this western theme park experience? The Westworld showrunners have said that we will find out that the landscape is just as methodically designed as the hosts, whom we have seen 3D printed and programmed (we get a hint of that in the trailer for next week's episode).

The park is apparently isolated enough that employees need to live on site, rotating home every few months. Guests reach the park via an extremely fast train the likes of that doesn't exist currently. And this week, we saw park employees communicating with loved ones via computer terminals, which implies that getting a signal from the park might be difficult. Some have also pointed out that the sculpture we saw in the sublevels of a planet with the word 'DELOS' emblazoned on it, doesn't appear to be Earth as we know it today. You can read that whole theory and see some further examples here.

westworld hovercraft

Is Westworld on another planet? Westworld showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan were asked about this popular fan theory, and Jonath recalls calling Westworld executive producer JJ Abrams after watching the original film:

In my memory I was conflated that hovercraft sequence when they arrive in the park with the space-hotel with 2001. And I said to J.J., "Is that park even on this planet?" The important thing for us was, when you come to the series you have no idea where you are. Disneyland is in a parking lot in Anaheim, but it's spectacular and you forget where you are when you're inside.

In regards to the computer terminals where the Delos staff communicate to their loved ones back home, Joy says:

Regardless of where they are, the park is very, very vast, and you don't rotate home often. You don't have open communication where you can just pick up a phone. Even senior people have to go to the coms room – because [the park is] protecting their intellectual property. We're hoping to paint a portrait of the culture of the corporation.

Nolan (who was a showrunner on Person of Interest, a series about a computer system that could analyze all forms of public and private data to predict the future) seems to be very interested in the aspect of big brother looking in on our communications. As for how it relates to Westworld, he says the Delos corporation wants to protect its intellectual property and the privacy of the park's guests:

In Westworld, the value of the park is all in its intellectual property, it's all in the code. So regardless of the park's location, they would be extremely careful with that code and making sure its virtually impossible to smuggle it out of the park. And there's the privacy of the guests – you're not going to have a good time in Westworld if somebody is Instagramming your activities. I'm amazed at Las Vegas has survived the Instagram age. In episode 2, when the guests come in, we don't see this, but we assume these guys have cell phones that they're not allowed to bring in the park. We very much think this is a path where culture may be going – that we'll get over-exposed and sick of the interconnectedness of our lives that we'll hunger for places [that offer disconnected privacy]. We'll hunger for a moment where we can go back toward having some privacy.

Of course, this is a long way of not answering the question directly. Is Westworld located on another planet? We will find out the location of Westworld by the end of the first season. Jonathan says:

By the end of the first season, if you're paying close attention, you will know where it is. [There's some offline chat.] Lisa disagrees with that, by the way.

Or maybe we won 't. While we don't get any definites from the above quotes, it seems clear to me that the location of Westworld is a mystery that the Nolans wanted to explore with the series. While some of these fan theories might be reaching, this is a question that Jonathan and Lisa Joy wanted the audience to be asking. And if Westworld isn't based on another planet, then maybe it's based on an Earth that looks very different than it looks today.