Westworld's Ed Harris Is Not Happy About That Man in Black Twist

William (Ed Harris) giving this episode some side-eye.
William (Ed Harris) giving this episode some side-eye.
Photo: HBO

Who is the Man in Black without the park? Westworld has spent much of season three breaking down William’s struggles after his time in the park, leading to a major confrontation with the demons of his past. But how does the man playing him feel about all of it? Not great, it seems.


“It was jarring. To tell you the truth, it was hard to enjoy,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “In other words, I didn’t like it. I still don’t. But that’s my problem.”

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The Man in Black has transformed in season three, undergoing a metamorphosis that led to him destroying his past lives in the latest episode. But now that Westworld has formally introduced us to the “Man in White,” actor Ed Harris is providing some candid feedback to THR on the character shift. Through this season, William has been experiencing trauma from killing his daughter Emily in the park, which provided Dolores an opportunity to send him against his will to a mental health facility—one that practices therapy treatments that don’t exactly follow the Hippocratic Oath.

Much of the latest episode, “Decoherence,” examined William’s time in the facility, as Tessa Thompson’s “Halores” tried to save Delos data from Serac’s violent delights. You can watch a behind the scenes look here.

During the episode, William was put into a VR therapy session with all of his past selves. The newly crowned Man in White faced down all the past Williams and came out the victor, declaring himself “a good guy.” Harris said Westworld’s showrunners didn’t tell him about the Man in White ahead of time, and while he still likes performing on the show, he wasn’t thrilled about the character shift.


“I really enjoyed playing the Man in Black, right? Then all of the sudden, he’s the Man in White. So I wasn’t the happiest camper to tell you the truth, because I really enjoyed the part I was playing,” he said. “I was hoping that he, the Man in Black, would continue to somehow be prevalent in the story. And when I realized that was no longer the case, I had to just readjust my whole head and get into what was going on with William in this place that he has found himself.”

But what about that all-important question: Is the Man in Black/White a host? There was that moment in this episode (as William was getting the same mouth implant Caleb has) that his blood analysis detected an “unknown protein.” I thought the door had been closed on that chapter, but the show continues to surprise us. Harris told Deadline in a separate interview that we’ll “know for sure” by the end of the season. But in the meantime, he told THR that it’s really hard to say what’s going on with William because the Man in White is kind of “all over the place” right now.


“He’s trying to evaluate what the hell is going on with him and who’s doing what to who, etcetera, and who’s in control, and what’s happening at Delos, and all that kind of thing. And so, it’s just a lot of questions that he has more than anything. You know?” he said. “He’s all over the place. He’s going crazy. He’s wondering if he’s still who he is. He doesn’t know if he’s a host or not. He’s totally at the whim of the powers that be at the moment.”

There are only two more episodes of season three to go, so it looks like we’ll have that definitive answer soon. Westworld continues with episode seven on Sunday.


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Nick R.

I thought the unknown protein was whatever Dolores injected him with when she had him committed? A tracker or something maybe?

Also, I feel like it’s a lot less likely he’s a host now that we’ve seen him get drugged up. Dolores shows us early this season that hosts aren’t affected by human drugs when they injected her with several syringes of something to make her OD.