The Set Design Of HBO’s Westworld Is More Important Than You Think

Westworld is a sweeping period drama set in the Old West, but it’s also a futuristic dystopian morality tale. Clearly, the designers of HBO’s new series definitely had their work cut out for them. The costumes, the characters, the set—all of it is super important, considering how deep and complex the storyline is.

Zack Grobler, the show’s production designer, explains why design matters so much: “If you pay a lot of money to go and have fun in this old west park, then you’d like it to be the really iconic ideal of the west. You’d want to feel like the Marlboro Man riding out on the range. You want to be a gunfighter like Clint Eastwood. Those are all the ideals that you’re looking for. That’s what’s we tried to make it look like.”

And there’s another pretty cool layer to the design process that went into this show—the Old West town in Westworld was built on the existing set at Melody Ranch, a classic studio owned by Gene Autry and used as the set for tons of old western films in the early 20th Century. Most recently, it was been used in Django Unchained and The Magnificent Seven. It seems really appropriate that a series that’s all about the merging of real and fantasy worlds would be filmed on a set that’s seen so much cinematic history.

The best part though? Today’s Westworld is actually based on an old 1973 movie of the same name, which in itself was actually based on Disneyland’s “Frontierland,” which you can still go and visit. IT EXISTS.

“The original movie had a lot more of the ‘movie set’ feeling, and it was a bit like Disneyland,” Grobler said. “We tried to give a much higher quality and much more realistic setting. Disneyland is not bad now, but a few hundred years from now, the technology will be so much better that you will not even realize you’re in the park.”


So basically Westworld will be happening for real anytime now. This is probably a bad thing but is it wrong to still be a little bit excited?

Watch all-new episodes of Westworld Sundays at 9pm ET on HBO Canada. Missed the premiere? Check it out right here for free!