As the conversation surrounding the 69th Primetime Emmys heats up in advance of the July 13th nominations, Variety has posted a new episode from their “Actors on Actors” series showcasing award season contenders. The video features Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores) – a heavy favorite to secure a spot in the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series category – and talented newcomer Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven in Stranger Things). The pair sits down for a conversation about their recent turns as science fiction heroines in hugely popular new shows.
Wood and Brown find many similarities between their two characters. “The thing that I noticed about both of our characters, was that there was a strength in the vulnerability,” Wood said. “It was this persistence. It was the pushing through the vulnerability and facing what you’re most afraid of, and overcoming trauma. I saw so many parallels between the two characters.”
As the conversation continues, Wood connects their characters in other ways. “I’m very proud of that role [as Dolores] and that project, and also the kind of role that it was for a woman, or a girl. And I think that’s another thing I love about the characters that we played.” Wood continues, “You don’t know if we’re the hero or the villain, but we are definitely that driving force. And we’re saving the day, we’re causing trouble – there’s so much power and strength in these characters, going completely against any kind of gender norms.” Jokingly she adds, “I also love that we both have short hair and three names.”
Later, Wood shares how she handled working with acting legend Anthony Hopkins. “I just stayed calm, did the scene, went to my happy place – and then after we were done I left, and I just cried.” Wood laughs, “I literally squatted down and had to shed a few tears, because that was just a surreal dream of mine. And because he was just so…I’ve never seen acting like that right in front of me.”
Being part of a star-studded cast wasn’t the only challenge Wood faced on Westworld. “It was funny, it was the first project that I worked on that I didn’t have an idea of where my character was going or what the arc was. I was told ‘She starts off one way and she ends up, she gets kind of stronger as she goes along’ is all I was told,” she says. “So luckily the people – the showrunners, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy – are just two of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met, and I trust them completely. And they’re probably the only people I would play Marco Polo with in that way, and act, and not know if later when they gave me the answer I was gonna go, ‘I would’ve…wh-how? No! Can we redo this please?’”
As difficult as the experience was, Wood believes the lack of information she received was the right decision. “I thought it did actually help give me that air of mystery, and depth, and curiosity. And If I had known all the answers, you can’t help – maybe even subconsciously – put in a little clue here and there…I thought it was just a great way to keep us in the moment, and keep the performances as pure as possible,” she admits.
Wood confides that knowing secrets is worse than being kept in the dark, however. “That was the hardest part – was when you did know – not being able to say anything. And people had no idea who my character was, and I had to do all these interviews. And they were like ‘So, is she an important character – like a pivotal character – in this? She’s just kind of the innocent farmgirl/damsel in distress,’ and I’m sitting there going ‘ugh you have no idea, you have no idea. She has the ultimate power,” Wood says in frustration. “So that is really difficult.”
Watch the entire interview to see Wood and Brown discuss how they deal with criticism, their worst audition experiences, and more.