A surprise guest joined the cast and creators of HBO’s Westworld at the end of the show’s SXSW panel on Saturday. SpaceX founder Elon Musk, a friend of show creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, appeared as a way to end the panel on a note of “optimism”, in Nolan’s words, while also showing the audience an inspirational trailer that Nolan created promoting the February launch of the SpaceX Heavy Falcon rocket.
“One of the things that I really used to, when I was a kid, spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about was space, and spaceflight,” Nolan said, noting that he had grown up watching Super 8 footage of Saturn rocket launches, but that the fervor and excitement that space exploration once fostered has faded. “And so I was having a drink last year with a friend, and we were talking about how do you inspire people? How do you get people to talk again, how can you drive the conversation?”
Their solution, Nolan said, was a red sports car and a David Bowie song — and the friend was none other than Musk himself.
Why Falcon Heavy & Starman?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 11, 2018
Life cannot just be about solving one sad problem after another. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That is why we did it. We did for you. https://t.co/5STO7q4wro
Set to David Bowie’s “Starman”, the video tracks the preparation, successes, and failures of the Falcon Heavy launch last month. The event was covered extensively at the time, but the trailer that Nolan cut together includes new footage that’s being seen by the public for the first time. While the rocket’s two side boosters successfully landed after launch, the center booster didn’t fare as well, and the trailer offers the first look at that rocket’s destruction. It also includes numerous new shots of the prep for the launch, including Musk’s infamous red Tesla Roadster being attached.
“I had the privilege of being down with Elon in launch control for the Falcon Heavy launch, and there was an incredible spirit there on the day,” Nolan told the audience. “It felt extraordinary, thinking about all the people that had contributed to putting this together, and the spirit of it. And something that I haven’t felt in an awfully long time. We tried to distill that essence down.”
“The only way I know how to express it: we cut a trailer,” he said. “It’s not a trailer for a movie. It’s not a trailer for a TV show. What we’re hoping this is is the trailer for one part of the next chapter of the human story.”