One of the main storylines of Westworld‘s first season was that of the ill-fated lovers, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and William (Jimmi Simpson). The finale revealed that losing Dolores was the catalyst for William’s transformation into the cruel and sadistic Man in Black (Ed Harris). Season two showed us some of the aftermath of William’s first visit to the park, including his changed attitude toward Dolores, and hosts in general.
While William and Dolores didn’t share much as much screen time together this season, Simpson and Wood still delivered wonderful performances that garnered them both Emmy nominations. In two new interviews, they share some of their experiences working on Westworld.
Speaking to Vulture, Evan Rachel Wood confesses filming season two was much more difficult. “I had no idea what was happening…at all. And we shot out of order, so most of the time – I mean, it was insane to be an actor on season two. I don’t know how I feel about it. But it was a ride.” She adds, “We would show up and Jeffrey [Wright] and I would ask what episode we were in. It was kind of that level of – we just lived in the moment in whatever scene that we were doing, and that’s how we made it.”
In a surprising twist, we learn that for part of the season Dolores has been inhabiting the body of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson). Wood describes her collaboration with Thompson to create a subtly different character. “I thought she did an amazing job. I would send her recordings of myself doing the dialogue, and then she really sold it,” she explains. “We weren’t really doing scenes together and I was basically playing a different character this season. So when she found out she had to kind of be me, she came to me and said, ‘Wait – what have you been doing?’ I’m like, ‘Oh! Oh right! Yeah, I’ve got to do the voice for you and everything!’ So I just made recordings and she really made it her own, it was good.”
Check out the full interview here.
Jimmi Simpson portrayed a very different William in season two, and he admits to Vanity Fair that it was a fun challenge. In “Riddle of the Sphinx,” we effectively see young William become old William in three different but similar conversations with James Delos (Peter Mullan). In order to make it more believable, Simpson studied audio of Ed Harris reading the lines. “It’s like an amazing puzzle that you get to keep playing,” Simpson says of the repetitive nature of the conversation. “And it keeps getting interesting each time you play it.”
His most difficult experience, however, was working with Wood on the scene where William belittles a naked Dolores in the Delos lab. Simpson explains the mood was like a “funeral” and that he and Wood didn’t even speak to each other between takes. He relates how he approached William’s attitude toward her in this moment by saying, “You broke my heart and I’m going to fucking tear this world apart. I’m going to make you feel small to make me feel better.” It certainly was a heartbreaking change from their passion for each other in season one, and cemented William’s utter rejection of that love.
For more of Simpson’s thoughts on season two, head over to Vanity Fair.