Evan Rachel Wood was brought to tears while explaining the “transformative” way that Westworld changed her life and helped her work through “trauma” during a panel for the HBO series at Comic-Con in San Diego, California, on Saturday.
“It’s almost hard to talk about because I get so emotional,” she told the audience. “Working on the show changed my life in so many ways. When I read the pilot, I knew I wasn’t going to be a damsel in distress and that I would become strong, but my little brain didn’t fully grasp how deep it was going and how profound it was going to be.”
“As the scripts were coming in, I was starting to grasp what show I was on and that I was at the forefront of this responsibility,” she continued. “I almost had a panic attack around the fourth episode because I realized what was on my shoulders, and was terrified, but then got so excited and believed in it so much.”
Wood added that walking onto giant sets where everyone was in character was such an immersive experience that it threw her deeper into the world of the Western-themed park. Combined with working through and discovering all the layers and “different modes” of her character, Dolores, Wood said she came out of season one empowered and having worked through some of her own issues.
“It was so fulfilling, especially because as women, a lot of the time you feel like your wings are being clipped and you’re not being represented the way you want to and this was like someone had given me the f***en condor wings and I got to take off and fly!” explained Wood, who has previously talked about struggling with her bisexuality and feelings of suicide. “I’m tearing up talking about it, because [I was able] to go on that journey with her, learn things about myself and put my own experiences into what she’s going through. And, using that as a vehicle to work through my own repressed memories or trauma and breaking out and coming through the other side was transformative -- and fun.”
Wood was joined by 13 cast members, including Thandie Newton, James Marsden and Luke Hemsworth for the panel, where fans caught a sneak preview of footage from season two, set to air in 2018. The clip showed Dolores and a man appearing to be Teddy shooting at people while riding horses, and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) with a dead tiger. Hemsworth, whose character's fate was left unknown, was also seen in a vehicle during the clip.
Cast and show creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were tight-lipped when it came to season two details, instead reflecting on season one and making random declarations. Hemsworth announced he wants to ride horses naked like co-star Ben Barnes, Marsden shared that the fake blood used on Westworld stays in his ears for weeks, while Nolan joked that the long-term plan was “to franchise the show into a theme park.”
On a more serious note, Jimmi Simpson (William) shared how being kept in the dark about his story arc turned out to be a blessing.
“Our job as actors is to not give away the ending of the story,” he said. “Part of our craft is to withhold from the audience [but] we didn’t have that -- we had to focus on what was happening right then. That’s all we knew. It was the greatest acting lesson I’ve ever been given and I’m so grateful for it. I want to cut the ends of my scripts now!”
Newton has also happily surrendered to the unknown.
“I’ve never felt like this before,” she confessed. “I’m a control freak and I feel like that’s the way forward to have power in a situation, particularly in a professional environment and especially being a woman. It’s tough -- you’re always looking over your shoulder, you’re always checking, ‘Am I being respected? What do I need to do to further my situation?’”
“For first time in my professional life -- and personal life -- I have complete faith and trust in what these people are writing, to the point where I have no idea. It’s the most extraordinary feeling to be able to surrender and trust the way we get to trust, so I don’t know [what’s ahead], but I can’t f****** wait to find out!”
See Wood talk more about the complexities of her character below.