'Westworld' Season 3 Trailer Pays Homage to a Famous NYC Photo

Shortly after melting the Iron Throne in the series finale of Game of Thrones, HBO prepared its audience to re-enter the complicated world of Westworld. The first trailer for Season 3, premiering in 2020, takes viewers out of the parks and into the “real” world. One moment in the trailer cements this fact by paying homage to a now iconic photograph, “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper”.

Also read: There’s a Westworld Season 3 spoiler hiding in the new trailer.

Roughly 20 seconds into the new trailer for Westworld Season 3, released on Sunday, Aaron Paul (best known for his role in the AMC series Breaking Bad) sits beside a Chappie-esque worker robot atop a floating beam in a metropolitan city. It looks like New York, but a handful of other shots reveal a less dense cityscape with mountains off into the distance. Production of Season 3 took place in Hermosa Beach Pier in California and its usual home in Moab, Utah.

The image of Aaron Paul’s unnamed character, a blue-collar construction worker and low-level criminal, eating lunch next to a drone (because he’s lonely, see) is highly suggestive of the 1932 photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, a famous image of 20th century America that shares some surprising similarities to the themes of the HBO series.

Taken on September 20, 1932 by Charles C. Ebbets, 11 construction workers are seen sitting on a grinder that hung 820 feet above New York City. The picture was taken during the final stages of construction on the RCA Building, now 30 Rockefeller Plaza (or “30 Rock”).

While the people in the photo were real workers, the photo was staged as a publicity stunt to promote the debut of the skyscraper. This was confirmed in a 2012 interview with Ken Johnston, historian and archivist for Corbis Images, who told The Independent: “The image was a publicity effort by the Rockefeller Center. It seems pretty clear they were real workers, but the event was organized with a number of photographers.”

Lunch atop a Skyscraper
"Lunch Atop a Skyscraper," a famous 1932 photograph that was staged to promote the opening of the RCA Building, now present-day 30 Rockefeller.
Westworld Aaron Paul Skyscraper
Aaron Paul and a robot in 'Westworld' Season 3.

In an abstract way, the origins and nature of the photograph — a carefully arranged tableaux to promote an enterprise — shares a lot in common with Westworld, an interactive theme park franchise that allows guests to live out their dreams. Like the construction workers, the lifelike “hosts” of Westworld are conscious artificial beings. But the environment in which the hosts find themselves is a facsimile that only serves as a playground for imagination.

Or something. It’s also just a cute homage that helps familiarize us, the audience, to Aaron Paul’s character, who is pathetically lonely in a world where loneliness can be cured with a trip to Westworld. (If you’re rich enough.) But because he meets Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores in the closing moments of the trailer, maybe he too will learn that violent delights have violent ends.

Westworld will premiere in 2020 on HBO.

Media via Wikimedia / Druaga2, HBO