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First, she killed Arnold. Then, she killed Ford. Who’s next?
The second season of HBO’s Westworld stands to answer that question, as the host known as Dolores, played by the Emmy-nominated Evan Rachel Wood, continues her quest through consciousness — a quest you can mark by the trail of bodies the killer robot has left and continues to leave in her wake.
Over the course of the sci-fi Western’s riveting first season, viewers came to learn all about Dolores’ central role in the titular theme park’s sprawling mythology. As the park’s oldest host, Dolores was already iconic in her own right. But the character took on new meaning (and a new personality) as the series revealed her as the avatar of Wyatt, a murderous personality with a mind toward violent revolution.
By the end of the season, Dolores became fully aware of her murderous past, and continued that history of violence by killing the visionary responsible for the park’s narratives, Robert Ford, played by the legendary Anthony Hopkins. Now, the safety is off: Dolores and her fellow hosts are free and clear to kill anyone and everyone in their path as they journey into night, etching their destinies with bullets and blood aplenty.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about her Emmy-nominated work on the series, Wood opened up about the slow revealing aspect of her character, why she’s so fascinated with the sprawling nature of the Westworld narrative and what fans can expect from season two based on the San Diego Comic-Con trailer.
What was the biggest misconception about your character?
I think the biggest misconception, especially early on, was that she was a vanilla character. That she was just a damsel in distress and just there to be pretty and to service everything else and not be a well-rounded character. I think what surprised everybody is that we were taking that stereotype and cliche and really turning it on its head. I didn’t expect it either. When I signed on, I didn’t know anything about my character. I was very pleasantly surprised.
What’s your process for keeping the multiple versions of Dolores straight?
We worked together so closely with [co-creators and showrunners] Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and the writers and directors. We all took the time to go over every moment, every shift, to really map out what we were going to do and when we were going to slip in and out of different modes, to the point that we would break down a sentence and say, “Okay, we’re starting in Dolores mode, and then we’re going to flip that into analysis, and then we’ll do a combination of Dolores and analysis, and have Wyatt come in at the end.” In the span of 60 seconds, I could be four different people. We would do the same thing with emotions in the diagnostics scenes. We would play and find what works and do variations on a scene, and then piece it together. It was very fun.
You were famous for theorizing on set. What’s the drive behind that, and how’s the theorizing going for season two?
I love this kind of television. I was one of the people that when Lost was on the air, I was obsessed, trying to figure everything out, looking up numerology and mythology and doing everything. But I loved it. Maybe it’s because I have a really overactive imagination and brain. This show was kind of all of my favorite nerd things put together. It was Western sci-fi and psychology and spirituality and mythology. Just because I’m an über-nerd, and because I knew we weren’t getting all of the information, I was trying to figure it out, but I also knew it was going to be something incredible. It’s not even that I had a need to know. I honestly don’t know what drives it. Because they’re such good storytellers, you kind of can’t help it. You get sucked in.
You were at San Diego Comic-Con this year, where the trailer for season two was unveiled, based on only one week of filming. There was a huge reaction to the scene of Dolores and Teddy (James Marsden) riding horses and gunning down guests. What was it like to feel that immediate feedback?
It made me so happy. That character went through so much in the first season, so much pain and so many horrible realizations about the world and herself. The whole time, people were rooting for her to break free and take control. To finally have that image of her with this disheveled blue dress and bullets across her chest and her hair blowing in the wind, free and wild, and taking control of her life again … yes, she’s gunning down people. But in her defense, she has been pushed a little too far. (Laughs.) But I think symbolically, it represents so much. It’s something we were longing to see.
I saw Wonder Woman in the theaters … there have been strong female characters, certainly not enough, but there was something about the representation in Wonder Woman that was different. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But I think it’s because she was such an outsider and such an alien and didn’t really understand the patriarchy. There’s something about Dolores not really being a man or a woman. She’s a machine. She kind of transcends gender and stereotypes. There’s something very cool and inspiring about that.
Follow THR.com/Westworld for more interviews, news and theories about the HBO series.
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