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Evan Rachel Wood finds anger the hardest emotion in ‘Westworld’

Josa Lukman
Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, May 1, 2020  /  05:40 am
Evan Rachel Wood finds anger the hardest emotion in ‘Westworld’

Out in the real world: Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) escapes from Westworld to seek information about the Rehoboam AI system. (Courtesy of HBO/-)

Aired in December 2016, the first 10 eposides of Westworld became the most-watched first season ever of any HBO series.

The series, touted as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the question of free will, has also received numerous accolades, being nominated several times for the Primetime Emmy Awards, and winning various prizes, including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Thandie Newton) in 2018.

On the heels of the third season, HBO announced its decision to extend the series to a fourth season.

“From the western theme park to the technocratic metropolis of the near future, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn from the minds of master storytellers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy," Casey Bloys, president of HBO Programming, said in a statement.

"We can’t wait to see where their inspired vision takes us next.”

Man and machine: Newcomer Aaron Paul (left) plays Caleb Nichols, a military veteran disillusioned with the system in future Los Angeles. Man and machine: Newcomer Aaron Paul (left) plays Caleb Nichols, a military veteran disillusioned with the system in future Los Angeles. (Courtesy of HBO/-)

An adaptation of Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, Westworld is set in the not-so-distant future of 2058, where incredibly human-like androids are part of everyday life.

The story centers on Westworld, a theme park made to evoke the American Wild West. The park is populated with so-called hosts, androids programed to fulfill guests’ fantasies without being able to harm them.

When an update for the hosts is implemented, some gain sentience. Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), the oldest working host, discovers that her life as a rancher’s daughter is an elaborate lie.

The eight-episode third season, which premiered on March 16 and will conclude on May 4, sees Dolores escape from Westworld into the real world, where the locale of a dystopian Los Angeles exposes the rift between upper-class humans with the lower classes and artificial beings.

Throughout the seasons, main character Dolores has been portrayed in a rather angry way, which is a rarity for female characters on screen.

In an interview, the script of which was made available to The Jakarta Post, Wood said she was aware the audience root for the angry, man on a mission, male characters, whereas the response to her character was the opposite.

“I did find people’s reaction to Dolores in the second season really interesting when she’s literally fighting for her freedom and she’s been abused for 30 years and they still wanted to say that she was out of line, which is what we do to survivors at times,” she said.

Still, Wood revealed that anger was actually the hardest emotion to conjure on set, as she has problems with anger in real life and tries her best to curb the emotion.

“Because I do so much work to curb my anger in my life. So I guess this is the outlet where I let it out. But I think under all that anger is a lot of hurt. That’s where it stems from. [...] Being angry and being allowed to be angry, being allowed to take charge of that and to let it propel you into something greater than yourself - you don’t see that much on screen.”

Tessa Thompson, who plays Charlotte Hale, said that one of the central questions in the third season was the idea of freedom, in that the hosts are determined to get out of the park.

“This idea that humans get to make their own choices, they get to move through the world with agency, and then the hosts get into the world and discover that humans are on a loop all of their own, that because of algorithms and the ways in which they can determine our lives if we let them. Maybe free will isn’t so free after all.”

Historical fiction: Ettore (Rodrigo Santoro) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) are seen in War World, a park themed around Nazi-occupied Italy, in 'Westworld'.Historical fiction: Ettore (Rodrigo Santoro) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) are seen in War World, a park themed around Nazi-occupied Italy, in 'Westworld'. (Courtesy of HBO/-)

Castmate Luke Hemsworth, who plays Westworld security head Ashley Stubbs, agrees with that sentiment, saying the robotic hosts were even more human than the flesh-and-blood humans.

“My theory from the start was always that the robots were the blueprints for the new human race, that this is what we’re going to end up with – that how we became a society was that we were all artificial intelligence originally,” he said.

The eldest of the Hemsworth brothers even said the show had changed his relationship with technology, noting that the difference between when the series was in the works in 2014 and the present day was “staggering”.

“And knowing [show creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan], I don’t think they have a lot of hope either, and I think there’s a lot of that reflected in this season. But also I think part of that, not having the hope, comes from the sense of resignation that we’re on these tracks and we can’t get off them,” he says.

“We’re going to have this, and we’re having it already, this artificial revolution. I don’t think it’s a big stretch, right? What’s the answer, though? Because we’re not going to stop using technology. You can’t put the genie back into the bottle. So I think there’s a sense of yes, we’re doomed, but oh well, see you at the bar.” (ste)


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