Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale is a magnetic presence on Westworld. Smart and powerful, she holds her own against both the Man in Black (Ed Harris) and Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins). Thompson will be playing a different kind of powerful woman as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok. Time brings us an interview with Thompson from San Diego Comic-Con, and while the Westworld finale left us unsure about Charlotte’s fate, she reveals her return for season two and discusses her upcoming film.
Thompson never expected to play a superhero, but she admits it’s a wonderful time for women in the genre. “With Atomic Blonde and Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel being introduced and all the wonderful ladies in the Marvel Universe right now, it seems like we’re having a moment.” Thompson prefers to focus on substance over style, however. “I think what’s important is more female characters that are complex and dynamic and layered. That’s happening more in cinema and definitely more on television, which is why it’s an honor to work with women like Evan [Rachel Wood] and Thandie [Newton] on Westworld.”
Since Charlotte appears to have survived the massacre at the end of the Westworld finale, she may be more of a match for the hosts after Thompson’s intense training on Thor: Ragnarok. The director, Taika Waiti, sent her a photo of the notoriously ripped Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as inspiration for Valkyrie. “Chris [Hemsworth] is in really good shape and also just a huge human, so I didn’t want to look too small next to him because the character I’m playing holds her own with him,” Thompson explains. “So, yes, now I can do pull ups. As long as I can do as many pull ups as Sarah Connor did onscreen, I’m good.”
Actors on Westworld didn’t get that kind of guidance for their characters, as showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were famously tight-lipped about the storyline for season one. “I think Jonathan and Lisa are so smart in their treatment of us on Westworld. For example, Jeffrey Wright [Bernard Lowe] didn’t know he was AI until he got that script, and none of us knew either,” she admits. “I think that changed everything when we read that episode. It forced us to question our reality. All the actors playing humans were suddenly like, ‘Wait am I a human though?’”
“It was brilliant because if Jeffrey had known he was playing AI, he might have wanted to add to an affectation to it. Instead, he believed, just like the character Bernard, that he was human, and he went through the same experience the character went through.” That shocking reveal made Thompson question the nature of her reality, however. “It had occurred to me before then that I could potentially be AI. Since that episode, I’m now convinced that I am. Part of me is praying that I’m not because I don’t want to spend all year nude.”
Thompson reveals we will see Charlotte again in season two, as she is already back at work on Westworld. The secrecy by the showrunners continues, as she confesses, “We get redacted scripts. Only Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood knew what was going to happen in the final episode of last season. So you captured actors being shocked by what they were seeing as the characters were. We are starting the second season now and I’ve read only one episode.”
Head over to Time for the full interview.