Wood empowered by her Westworld character to fight sexual assault
US actress Evan Rachel Wood says role on drama Westworld helped her heal from sexual assaults
As Evan Rachel Wood embarks on her press tour for the second season of sci-fi drama Westworld, you can't help notice the parallels between reel life and real life.
Just as the android "hosts" in the titular theme park - where paying visitors could indulge their every perverse fantasy - fight back against their abusive human owners on the HBO TV series, the US actress has recently become one of the most vocal women in the #MeToo-era fight for the rights of abused women.
In February, she testified before a House Judiciary Subcommittee in support the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights Act was wearing a locket with the picture of her Westworld character, Dolores Abernathy, in it.
"It was surreal," Wood, 30, said of her experience at our interview at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel.
"People kept asking if I was nervous about going into the room and speaking in front of people. My job is to put myself in surreal situations and bare my soul to strangers, so that wasn't the hard part. But the situation itself was overwhelming. But I am glad that I did it, and it was incredibly healing. The outpouring of support that came from it was something that I didn't expect and I am grateful for."
Wood credits her lead role as rancher's daughter Dolores, the oldest yet newly sentient "host" in Westworld who discovers her whole life is a lie, for transforming her and empowering her to testify about the sexual assaults that she herself has survived about a decade ago, including two rapes - first by a partner, then by a man in the storage closet of a bar.
Premiering on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601) on April 23 at 9am and 10pm, the second season of Westworld picks up from the first season's finale, which saw the "hosts" taking over the park in a violent rebellion and exacting sweet revenge.
According to Wood, the cast still isn't privy to the storyline in advance.
KEPT IN THE DARK
She said: "It is script by script. This season, I thought I would have more information and it felt like I had less, actually. We were kept in the dark a lot. And we shot out of order this season so it was even harder to keep track of everything. And then sometimes we were doing scenes from episodes we hadn't even read. It was the hardest thing I have done as an actor."
There is not much she is allowed to say about Season 2 other than "it will be more of an explanation of the grey areas".
She added: "We are exploring areas of technology in the future that are so out of the realm of, at least, my awareness. The surprises are much more intense, much deeper, much more shocking. It is going to make the first season look like a tea party."
The Terminator was her favourite robot growing up, so much so she almost named her son Connor - after the Resistance leader John Connor from the 1984 film.
Speaking of the five-year-old boy she shares with her ex-husband, English actor Jamie Bell, she said he visited her on the Westworld set all the time.
"He loves it, he calls it cowboy land. And he really thinks (co-star) James Marsden is a cowboy and he calls him, 'Teddy' (the name of Marsden's character). He has his action figure, he is obsessed with James. They walk around the set and play make-believe. It is sweet.
"He was there when I was shooting the scene where I was riding the horse with no hands. Before each take, he was yelling, 'Go mummy, you are the best cowgirl.' And everyone started crying."
Being a mother has changed Wood completely - and the way she works.
"It has made me a better actor, it has got me more in touch with myself and my emotions and made me look at the world differently. He is the inspiration for everything I do, as cheesy as that sounds. I am a single mum so he is my whole life, he is everything to me."