Ed Harris revealed his indifference toward The Man In Black’s character arc through season three of the HBO original series, Westworld. Harris signed on for the mysterious role all the way back in 2015. For two seasons, The Man In Black, along with the hosts, roamed inside the Western theme park. Through timeline jumps and flashbacks, audiences watch William (Jimmi Simpson) embrace his dark side and become The Man In Black with each visit to the park and every piece of humanity he loses. By season three, episode six, “Decoherence,” the outlaw William audiences have come to fear transforms, as he faces five versions of himself, into The Man In White. Broken, desperate, and sporting a straightjacket.


Harris takes on the role of brooding, barbaric Delos executive, thirty years after the events of William (Simpson) and Logan Delos (Ben Barnes), which play out in the first season, subtitled, “The Maze.” Through season two, “The Door,” Harris-as-William tries to find the Forge and unlock the park’s secrets. Season three takes place outside the park, features new cast members, like Aaron Paul playing human Caleb, who is intriguing but soaks up a lot of screentime.

Vulture spoke to Ed Harris about his thoughts on The Man In Black’s development through the season. One of the biggest reveals came when Harris was asked about the filming of William’s, “Clockwork Orange-like-therapy-treatment,” Harris answers directly: “You do what you gotta do. I mean, I signed on to play the Man in Black. I didn’t sign on to play the Man in White. So it wasn’t the most joyous season for me, I gotta say.” He echoes similar sentiments to some Westworld fans, who are unhappy with the direction of the show. Not all fans feel this way, with some praising the departure from the stale Western motif and taking on pressing social questions about technology that drive season three of Westworld.

The actor also discussed the surreal experience of acting alongside Jimmi Simpson, as the two men share a character three decades apart. The shoot with Simpson was a “group” therapy session, overseen by his surrogate father, James Delos (Peter Mullan), and called for Harris to portray Corporate-Willian, The Man In Black, and The Man In White, in turn. When asked about the experience playing himself over, Harris revealed wasn’t too challenging with such a well-organized shoot, other than how little he knows about his character. One carrot Westworld continues to dangle is whether or not William is a host, and the answer remains unclear.

Ed Harris’ grievances are understandable, but good television requires reinvention. Audiences need the balance of comfort and familiarity, alongside twists and unexpected turns. Westworld performs a delicate dance to keep The Man In Black an enigma while underscoring the certainty of his corruption. Westworld was renewed for a fourth season, which means that as long as William lives, Harris could keep finding himself in situations further away from the character in season one. The series likes to shake up the cast and bring back characters after killing them off, so it’s anyone’s guess where The Man In Black, or, The Man In White goes from here. While it might not be what Harris signed on for, but it’s what Westworld fans demand.

Source: Vulture 

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