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You said this was a game. Last night I finally understood how to play it. You don't call the shots anymore. I'm gonna go find Dolores. And you're gonna help me! And don't call me Billy!
~ A young William to Logan, finally "understanding" what Westworld is about.
You know, I always felt this place was missing a real villain. Hence my humble contribution.
~ The Man in Black to Robert Ford.
William, also known as the "Man in Black", is both a protagonist and a supporting antagonist in the first season of the HBO show Westworld. As a young man, he is portrayed by Jimmi Simpson, best known for portraying Liam McPoyle. As a senior citizen, he is portrayed by Ed Harris, who also portrayed General Hummel, Leonard Dekkom, Wilford, Christof and Mitch Wilkinson.
The Man in Black is the majority owner, member of the board, and visitor of the theme park Westworld, whose goals are to learn the deepest secrets of the park. He knows of a secret quest called the "maze", designed by Arnold and for the host Dolores, which is a discrete path to true consciousness, though he does not understand its significance. He has made it his life goal to unlock the knowledge of the maze.
In the first season finale, it is revealed that the Man in Black is the same person as William.
Aw, yeah, cue the waterworks. About time you realized the futility of your situation.
~ The Man in Black to Dolores.
William first arrived in Westworld as a young, caring visitor. Immediately overwhelmed by Westworld, William, in contrast to Logan, wanted to see and enjoy everything Westworld has to offer. His then-selfless personality led him to save the life of the Host Dolores. He fell in love with her, and helped her escape from Logan twice. William also seems to care for the Hosts as persons while Logan just sees them as means to having fun.
However, after separating from Dolores Abernathy, William starts looking for her. During this time, William realizes that he likes being cruel and evil to the Hosts. He fully embraces this after Dolores, who has been reset, does not recognize him. As Logan notes in the first season finale, William's kindness was a facade that concealed his true nature as a manipulative and violence-obsessed psychopath.
As the Man in Black, he enjoys reveling in his own psychotic pleasures. He has no problem with gunning down entire villages of hosts and he even threatens to kill a fellow guest for talking to him about the real world. The Man in Black is also a nihilist who sees the real world as an "accident" that lacks any purpose or meaning. Enjoying Westworld for providing guests clear narratives, he embraces himself as a villain who is bored with the lack of danger for guests.
The only thing I had when I was a kid were books. I used to live in them. I used to go to sleep dreaming I'd wake up inside one of them 'cause they had meaning. This place, this is like I woke up inside one of those stories. I guess I just wanna find out what it means.
~ William to Dolores.
I've been pretending my whole life. Pretending I don't mind, pretending I belong. My life's built on it. And it's a good life. It's a life I've always wanted. But then I came here and I get a glimpse for a second of a life in which I don't have to pretend. A life in which I can be truly alive. How can I go back to pretending when I know what this feels like?
~ William to Dolores.
The Man in Black
I never understood why they paired some of you off. Seems cruel... and then I realized winning doesn't mean anything unless someone else loses. Which means you're here to be the loser!
~ The Man in Black to Teddy.
A lot of wisdom in ancient cultures. And perhaps it's time to dig deeper into yours.
~ The Man in Black.
You want to know who I am? Who I really am? I'm a god. Titan of industry. Philanthropist. Family man, married to a beautiful woman, father to a beautiful daughter. I'm the good guy, Teddy. Then, last year, my wife took the wrong pills. Fell asleep in the bath. Tragic accident. 30 years of marriage vanished. How do you say it? "Like a deep and distant dream." Then, at the funeral, I tried to console my daughter. She pushed me away, told me that my wife's death was no accident that she killed herself because of me. Emily said that every day with me had been sheer terror.
~ The Man in Black to Teddy.
William recognizes his true calling.
The Man in Black reveals himself to Dolores.
The Man in Black is annoyed by Teddy…
…and kills him.
The Man in Black about to torture his captive.
The Man in Black with a captured Host.
The Man in Black is about to murder a group of men.
The Man in Black talks to Lawrence.
The Man in Black, moments before murdering the barman.