Emmy Nominees Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson on Their Westworld Experience and Character Evolution

William and Dolores

Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and William (Jimmi Simpson) have had quite a complicated relationship on Westworld. Going from travelling companions, to lovers, to enemies in season one – then making an uneasy truce before turning on each other in season two – it’s been a roller coaster journey for these two. All that drama has helped the actors turn in excellent performances, however, as both Wood and Simpson are up for Emmys this year. In separate interviews, they discuss their characters’ transformations and how grateful they are to be part of a show like Westworld.

Gold Derby spoke to Evan Rachel Wood about season two, and Wood confesses that the rise of the #MeToo movement during filming helped put her Westworld storyline in perspective. “You couldn’t help but draw parallels between the robot uprising and the revolution we are seeing, especially with women. It also speaks volumes to any group that has been oppressed or anybody who has had to fight for rights and fight for freedom. The game is changing. We are having to have new conversations about old topics. And it has been amazing to watch that unfold while being part of a show that is very much a metaphor for that.”

The Dolores of season two is much different from the distressed damsel in season one, as she has embraced her newfound freedom and is intent on destroying those were responsible for her suffering. Working on the show has changed Wood herself, as well. “Westworld has shown me a strength in myself I did not know I was capable of. It didn’t just put me in the same categories a lot of roles can do where you feel your wings are clipped. This was like someone had opened the doors to the cage and I got to fly out and expand. The show not only challenges the people that work on it every day but it think the audience as well. It makes us ask the deep meaningful questions about our existence. It’s nerd heaven for me.”

Regarding her Emmy submission, Wood explains why she choose the second episode of season two, “Reunion.” “There weren’t any big crazy emotional crying scenes in it. But what I liked about it was when you are playing a character like that you have to master the art of doing nothing but saying everything. She’s been a million different people and suffered so many injustices. It was a very subtle, quiet, complicated episode for her.” Hopefully it will be enough to take home a trophy next month.

Check out Wood’s interview below.


William Westworld

Jimmi Simpson has also opted for “Reunion” as his Emmy submission. He tells TV Guide about his decision, saying, “[The episode] is sort of this amalgam of all this work that I had done in season one combined with where this character is headed, defined by Ed Harris. I had all of these guideposts, yet all this freedom from my own performance. I felt so lucky to be the guy who bridges the gap between young William and [the] Man in Black.”

Simpson also touches on his interaction with Dolores in this episode. “There is so much non-verbal communication between William and Dolores…It was something I have never played before. It was wielding power with no reaction.” He also describes why William becomes so cold to her, saying, “I didn’t expect it but I get it. I know so many men who, when they got their heartbroken, just instantly become an asshole to the person who broke their heart. It was just a sad and blisteringly truthful portrait of a man who hasn’t gotten what he wanted.”

In an interview with The Hollywood ReporterSimpson discusses his process behind William’s evolution. For most of season one, he and Ed Harris played “completely separate characters” because they were unaware of the connection between them. “Towards the last couple episodes, because I knew a little bit earlier, I started watching [Harris] work, and I needed to layer in a little bit for the first season. For the second season, it was all about what I had created and then watching repeatedly, with the help of Lisa [Joy] and Jonathan [Nolan], the work Ed had created and figuring out how to plot out the bridge between William and the Man in Black.”

When asked if he knows anything more about William’s storyline in future seasons, Simpson replies, “Believe it or not I don’t, and I’m so sorry. And I’ve said this before, Lisa and Jonah have orchestrated this perfect roll out for each actor by really not giving them more information than they need to play the given moment to the best of their brilliant ability. So their withholding of information is, to me, less about so we don’t tell other people, and more it’s a tool to help us achieve performance at its highest level without having to think about the next step.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Dolores finally gets her revenge on William next season.

Watch the below video for more of Simpson’s thoughts on season two.

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