'Westworld' Star Evan Rachel Wood on Bernard and Season 2

evan rachel wood, dolores, westworld
John P. Johnson/HBO
John P. Johnson/HBO

Warning: This interview with Evan Rachel Wood contains major spoilers about Westworld, up through Episode 7, "Trompe L'Oeil."


Westworld, dolores, william, evan rachel wood, jimmi simpson
John P. Johnson/HBO

Evan Rachel Wood freaked out just as much as you did when she learned Westworld's latest big reveal: that Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) isn't human. "I ran around my house screaming, 'Bernard's a robot! Bernard's a robot!'" she says. "And I haven't stopped doing it since." But that wasn't this week's only major twist. Wood's character, Dolores, made sweet robo-love with William (Jimmi Simpson) for the first time. Backstage before a SAG-AFTRA Foundation Q&A in New York City this weekend, Wood broke it all down for Thrillist.

Did you know Bernard was a robot when you started shooting the series?
Evan Rachel Wood: No, we didn't know on set. I did all those scenes with Jeffrey up until Episode 7 not knowing, then I found out and I went up to him, and I was like, "You! Did you know?" He was like, "Yeah." I was like, "I don't trust anyone on this set anymore!" I realized all the actors had been carrying certain secrets. Then I finally got mine, and I was like, "Yes!"

So Dolores and William finally consummated their romance. How did that feel?
Wood: It was such a beautiful experience working with Jimmi. We had incredible chemistry, and we loved our character arcs, but what we started to realize in Episode 7 is that they want very different things. People who come to the park want adventure, and they want to leave their routines and regular lives, but a regular life is all Dolores wants. We see something unlocking in William that Dolores is starting to clock.

What's that?
Wood: He's getting a taste for the park. As in love as I think he is with Dolores, it feels like she's a stepping stone to figure out who he really is. She's there to bring excitement to his life. It's so lovely and so satisfying to finally give them their moment. But at the same time, it's a love that's doomed from the start, because it's a bird and a fish falling in love. I do think the love is real, but I don't know how William would ever fully be able to trust it. Because you never really know if she's really falling in love or if she's just programmed to do it. It raises all these questions. Personally, I think she's really falling in love.

You think she's capable of genuine love?
Wood: Yeah. I think so. That's why it's such a special chapter in her life, and why we're spending time on it. I think it is real. But what do I know? [Laughs.]

Do you have a couples nickname for Dolores and William?
Wood: I've heard Willores a lot. On Twitter there's a #Willores, which I think is hilarious. I remember when we filmed our first kiss, after we did our first take, the whole room applauded, and I looked at Jimmi and I said, "You know people are going to make GIFs of this, right?" The Willores GIFs are starting to pile up, so I send him a new one every day, and he just laughs.

William has a great line in the episode about how the park doesn't reveal the worst in people, it reveals who they truly are. Do you believe that? And if so, what does that say about society now? It seems strangely relevant.
Wood: So many things on this show are incredibly relevant, especially now. I think that is true, and everyone has a dark side. That's one of the things we're exploring in the show, that human beings will always be flawed, and that will ultimately be their demise -- human error. Corruption and greed and power, these are the things that the hosts are not plagued with. That's another thing Anthony Hopkins' character says at the end of the episode, that they are the ones who are truly free. They don't have all these emotions, guilt, or consciousness, getting in the way. But then again, is that really free? I don't know. So many questions!

Well, here's another big question: Do you know if and when the show is coming back for a second season?
Wood: It's looking good. I haven't gotten an official word yet, but I think it would be a real shame if we didn't get to see where this thing goes. [Editor's note: The show was renewed the day after this interview was published.] I think the first season is an amazing prequel and a good setup for the actual show. It's a unique show because you really could make every season different, and there are limitless possibilities. Characters can never die, and they can be a million different people. I really want to see where they're going to take everything -- and if it's going to be like the film, where there's many different worlds, and what those would be. So I certainly hope it comes back.

It's such an amazing cast. Do you ever get chills doing scenes with, say, Sir Anthony Hopkins?
Wood: I wept after both scenes I had with Anthony. The first scene I did, I was completely naked, and he was five inches away from my face. I was like, "This is quite a way to break the ice." But he was so incredible that I forgot any of that was happening. It was like watching da Vinci paint. I'd never seen acting like that in person. To watch him do it differently every take, it just literally took my breath away. I went to my trailer and I cried. My friend came over and said, "What's wrong? Did the scene go bad?" And I said, "No, it went really well! That's why I'm crying!"

You shot Westworld's pilot in 2014. How long ago did you shoot Episode 7?
Wood: We were shooting it about a year ago today.

Wow, that's a long time to keep a secret!
Wood: It really is! It's been killing me. And I want to be able to talk about my theories with people. I've had a glimpse of what Season 2 would be if we get picked up. I'm champing at the bit to do it.

So do you go down the rabbit holes and read all the fans' theories?
Wood: No, because I know what's going to happen now. But while we were filming it, that's all we did. Jimmi, Jeffrey, Shannon Woodward, and I all had a text chain going. I had to keep apologizing because people would go, "Hey, what do you want for breakfast?" And I'd be like, "Oh my God, what if it's this?" I would just start in on Westworld theories. I couldn't talk about anything else. I had a thousand theories, and three of them were right.

Was that frustrating?
Wood: No, I loved figuring things out, and then going up to [showrunners] Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and trying to gauge their reaction. I loved not knowing and finding out episode by episode because I really got to go on the journey the audience will go on, and I know how satisfying it is and how surprising the bombs are. It was a really weird way of working, but really fun. It keeps you on your toes when you have no idea what's going to happen to your character. You just hope you're doing it right in the moment.

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Bruce Fretts is a regular contributor to Thrillist Entertainment.