10:15am PT by Kevin P. Sullivan
'Westworld': How Shogun World Changed in "Phase Space"
[This story contains spoilers through season two, episode six of HBO's Westworld, "Phase Space."]
When Westworld viewers first meet Felix Lutz (Leonardo Nam), he's nothing but a butcher for the hosts in the park. Everything changes, of course, when Maeve Millay ends up on his slab.
Now, in the show's second season, Lutz is practically a different person, having helped Maeve nearly escape and then journeying with her through Shogun World in search of her long-lost daughter. In the latest episode, as Maeve and company face the threat of a Ghost Nation attack, Lutz is the only one of the remaining humans in the group that charges into the fray.
THR caught up with Nam to talk about Lutz's transformation and the anxious thrill of reading each new script.
What was it like getting back into Lutz after season one was such a phenomenon?
It was a real joy, I've got to say. The journey that we went on with Lutz during season one was, for me, a very profound one. The questions we dealt with are ones I'm very interested in: questions of consciousness and what is love and what is reality and the way we perceive it. So it was really enjoyable to hop back onto that horse and take that ride along with [Jonathan Nolan] and Lisa [Joy] and all the other writers who were going to carve out this season. Again, like it was in season one, every episode that we get is jaw-dropping. I'm like, "What?! What's happening? What are we doing?" That's what I really enjoy about being on a show such as this. It really pushes the boundary of storytelling by rubbing up against reality and the themes of what it means to be human and really live in this world.
With Lutz, it was particularly interesting to watch him come back because he was a character that really had a complete arc in season one. Did it feel like playing a different character at all this season?
It didn't feel like I was going into a new character. It felt more like an evolution. You're right. He really did go on a journey in season one and got Maeve exactly what she needed, but he also got what he needed, which was to survive and he did. (Laughs.) I think in season two what you'll see is a new side of him and more of a heroic side coming through. Still at his core, the thing that really drove him in season one is also there in season two — I think it's embedded in his DNA — the idea of understand or questioning his own humanity and the humanity that is surrounding him, whether it's artificial, technically, or not. I think it's something that he struggles with throughout the show.
You really see that during the Ghost Nation attack "Phase Space," when the humans are divided on whether to get involved. It's Lutz that jumps into the fight.
Not only is it about running into the skirmish, but it's the thought that he can't believe that the others won't. When Lee Sizemore makes that call and gives the speech about being mortal, for Lutz it becomes a larger thing than saving their own souls.
For as highly anticipated as Shogun World was, I don't think anyone expected it to be a cribbed version of Westworld. How do you think the journey through the new park affected Lutz?
It's a good question. Shogun World was, in a way, a bottle episode, and it really shows that there are so many sides and facets to this world. What I really did enjoy seeing was how Lisa and [Jonathan] created the mirror images of the characters that we had only seen previously through Maeve. As you know, the show clamps down on secrecy. I think that's part of the joy of watching it, but I can say that I did not expect Shogun World to be the way that it was. It was such an interesting way to introduce us to the fact that the park is so large.
And that creativity can be a finite resource when it comes to making host storylines.
Exactly! You start to see that there has to be a human involved to create this park.
What was the process for finding out Lutz's storyline for season two? Was there a general debriefing first or did you just read scripts as they came out?
This season, we got the scripts as they came out, but we did sort of a regrouping as we started the season, as least for our motley crew. Ironically, we met in Sweetwater, in the theater. There's a theater that's there, and we all kind of met there to reconnect. We went through the episodes and met the directors and also did a walkthrough through parts of Shogun World. We did have a moment to reconnect and ask questions, and I think we all learned from season one how large the show is. When you're in production and galloping off, it really does feel like that. I really did appreciate that [Jonathan] and Lisa took the time to have this moment with us to ask questions and carve out our own personal stories that we needed.
When you would get a new script, what is the main emotion you feel?
First of all, I'm very grateful. (Laughs.) "This is great! This is awesome!" There's a little dance that happens on the inside. As I start to open the page, I go, "Please don't die. Please don't die. Please don't die." There is definitely a lot of anxiety and excitement because I knew what it was like being on the first season and where they took the show. Even with us as actors, they don't tell us everything. They're very respectful of our craft and what we need to do, but they also don't give us more than we need. It's something that I've learned to be really grateful for because if I did receive everything, there are parts that really don't have anything to do with what my character is doing. I have learned to be very appreciative of that.
What has it been like being a part of something that becomes as popular as Westworld?
I'm grateful. For someone who has usually not had opportunities to really stand up on a global scale, it's great to be surfing this wave and flying the good flag for anyone who has ever been marginalized or has not felt like they've been included. Westworld is really something that has offered me that opportunity, so I just want to say thank you.
What did you think of "Phase Space"? Sound off in the comments section below and keep checking THR.com/Westworld for more.