'Westworld' Star Shannon Woodward on Elsie's Big Return and Why the 'Stakes are Higher' (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Elsie’s officially back, but this time around, Shannon Woodward feels more like Lara Croft.
The fan favorite character made her triumphant return to Westworld on Sunday night’s episode, as Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) found her trapped in a cave and completely unaware of what happened after he strangled her at the end of season one -- which included the host uprising.
It was in that cave that the two discovered a secret lab hiding a human/robot James Delos (Peter Mullan), and Bernard remembered that Ford (Anthony Hopkins) had him create a similar copy of another human. Who that human is, we have no idea, but both Elsie and Woodward are ready to figure it out.
“I think what's interesting about season two is that I feel even more wrapped up in it and more anxious and compelled in a way that I guess is just really the story,” the 33-year-old actress told ET. “The stakes are higher.”
“Season one, I felt like Nancy Drew, and season two I feel a little bit like Tomb Raider," she added with a laugh.
Find out what's to come for Elsie in ET's interview below.
ET: You told us at the junket a couple months ago that [showrunners] Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy told you that Elsie would be back -- but did you know how?
Shannon Woodward: I had a vague idea, but I didn't really know until I saw the scripts. I knew kind of what had happened to me, but I didn't know how the story would get back to that.
ET: Elsie wakes up to find out that, basically, all hell has broken loose. Did you feel that way jumping back into the show after being out for the finale?
I was excited to see how the story was unfolding and how we were getting back into a place where Elsie belonged in the story. She was such a real drive in season one to find out answers and to try to protect essentially humanity from a robot uprising, but she was sidelined by Ford. So the fact that she's still alive is lucky for her and, also, now it's exciting to see where Elsie's going to go now that she's been held back as this robot revolution has exploded and what she thinks she can maybe do to help.
ET: We saw Bernard protect Elsie from James Delos -- and beg for her to trust him. It seems like she’s willing to give him another shot.
It's certainly a step in the right direction. He's ready to go off on his own, and he really makes a compelling case for giving him a shot to be the person he wants to be. I think she understands that Bernard himself is good and that he was programmed to do something to her that was dangerous. I think she wants to trust him, but I don't know if she can -- but she certainly wants to.
ET: In another timeline, we see Bernard reunite with Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) and the group, but Elsie is nowhere to be found. What can you tell us about where Elsie’s path leads this season, because it’s not with Bernard?
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I don't know. I think that's kind of the interesting thing -- now that she's back with Bernard and things are iffy, it's, "Where the hell is Elsie again?"
ET: Is that part of the fun of the show, not having all the details?
It is because we get the scripts week to week, so we're kind of the show's first audience. We sit around theorizing with each other and go, 'Oh, oh! I saw something the other day.' So, we have this whole other added thing. We're there, so we feel like the answers must be just at our fingertips, or sometimes we know they're in frame, so we're looking around at the set trying to see if we can figure anything out. It's like living in an AR game.
ET: Who in the cast are you working with to piece it all together?
Definitely Evan [Rachel Wood]. Evan loves this stuff -- we talk about it all the time -- but I think we're all really into it. Some of the actors are purists, like, 'I don't want to know. I don't want to read it. I just want to watch it and find out. And I'll just see my scenes and it will be like a surprise that I'm part of the story.' It's fun.
ET: There’s a huge fan theory that Ford is still alive or there’s another copy of him, and Bernard’s reveal this episode could definitely suggest the existence of an alternate Ford. What do you have to say to that?
I mean, Ford's dead. They shot him in the head. They really shot him in the head, and then they showed the head (laughs).
ET: But what does that mean for the human copy?
That's the fun of the show -- anything is possible. [There are] infinite possibilities, so the story could go in any which direction. It's fun.