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Evan Rachel Wood Says Dolores Is Fully Awake and Taking Her Westworld Fight to the Real World
When Dolores put a pistol to the back of Dr. Robert Ford’s head and pulled the trigger in the final scene of Westworld’s first season, it was the first sentient decision the host had ever made.
The first episode of Season Two establishes a shift in power and perspective in Westworld. The hosts are in control now and led by a rifle-wielding Dolores, whose mind is occupied by the preprogrammed personalities of the rancher’s daughter and Wyatt, along with a third new personality that she’s forming as a sentient creature.
That idea is explained in a monologue stunningly delivered by Evan Rachel Wood in this Season Two premiere:
The rancher’s daughter sees the beauty but Wyatt sees the ugliness. Those are all just roles you forced me to play. Under all these lives I’ve lived, something else has been brewing. I’ve evolved into something new, and I have one last role to play: myself.
It’s a powerful scene that Wood tells me is “one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever done. When I read it I just couldn’t believe it.” And it speaks simultaneously to the character’s fight to discover the truth and Dolores as a metaphor for all oppressed people who are fighting back.
Wood breaks down the meaning of that monologue, where Dolores is heading for the rest of the season, and her own real world win at getting equal pay to her co-stars:
This monologue outlines where Dolores is and what she’s trying to do in Season Two.
I think in that scene we’re literally seeing three different people in one scene. I think it was the first time I’ve played three different characters in one scene. What we’re trying to show is that A. she can remember everything, and B. she has access to every part of herself. And she can change it on a dime given whatever situation she’s in or whatever needs to get done. As for herself, I think we’re seeing sort of develop this season. She’ll be hopping back and forth between Dolores and Wyatt and this new thing will be growing and growing. I’m not even sure exactly where it’s going to take her.
This required nuanced acting by Wood, who needed to modulate her voice, to create the different characters.
It was very challenging. It took a lot of doing it many different ways playing with different levels. I’m a singer and they know I can modulate my voice any way so we were having fun with that. People kept asking if they did it in post to modulate my voice and I’d say no it was me I’m doing all the shifts. Because we didn’t want her to be a sociopath we didn’t want her out for blood for the fun of it and there’s a very specific result she desires, and it’s freedom, so there’s times where she’s ruthless then you’re reminded how she got here.
I think Dolores/Wyatt is one of those characters who we’re not really sure if they’re good or bad. There are no heroes or villains in Westworld. I don’t think people should worry that the Dolores we know and love is gone. That scene to serve as a reminder that she’s still there underneath it all.
Dolores is fighting for truth, like many people are in the real world.
I think she’s fighting at this point she wants to give the hosts a… Well, I don’t want to give anything away. You know what I mean? There is more, but… She wants the world that’s been denied of her. She’s on a search for truth. And I think a lot of people can relate to that right now. The search for truth is getting harder and harder. Everyone wants to know what’s real. She wants the real world, and she wants the truth. She doesn’t want stories—she doesn’t want lines.
It’s really intense to be doing this season during what we can now all officially call a revolution.
I think a lot of people can relate to that right now regardless of which direction you lean. There’s this real desire for truth but there’s also a real desire to ignore it. And I think those things are definitely on the show. For me, obviously as a woman, that’s how I relate to her, and the patriarchy. A lot of times when I was saying these words, it was hard for me to not strongly relate to Westworld representing the patriarchy to me. At the same time, it represents every group that’s ever been oppressed. It’s not just about women. It’s about anyone who has been treated unfairly by a system that was set up in place to be against them.
It’s really intense to be doing this season during what we can now all officially call a revolution. I’m curious to see where it all goes, especially next season because they’ve been so good at predicting things on our show. Maybe I’m scared to see what happens, because it will happen in the real world.
After years of seeing inequality in the entertainment business, Wood is receiving equal pay to her male Westworld co-stars.
It was surprising to me. I think I’m a huge advocate for women’s rights and I’m very outspoken about it, but even I still just kind of accept the place I’m in. Because I’m breaking years of conditioning as well. I usually get in trouble with pay because I really love what I do, and it’s hard to find great work. I do really worry that if you fight too hard you’re going to lose out on an opportunity. For a long time I would say I’ll take what I can get and I won’t push too hard. But times have changed, and I was really happy I didn’t have to push. It was just offered to me. They said, “This is what we believe and this is what you deserve.” And it made me really emotional.
I try not to obsess over money too much, but I do work really hard. I’m a single mom. I do independent films usually. They don’t pay a lot. I’ve been working really hard for 25 years. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been working. To actually see progress after so long—it’s so nice. It’s not about the money, although that’s amazing, but also the fact that it’s fair, and I’m getting paid the same for doing the same work.
Dolores is a fighter, which Wood finds inspiring.
What I’m taking away from this by playing Dolores is to not accept my current place. I never accept things the way they are. The show asks you to challenge everything, including your own reality. It takes things one step further and asks that deeper question for deeper meaning. Dolores to me is a fighter and a survivor and no matter how many times she gets knocked down she gets back up. That’s inspiring to me. Even just to see a character like that who will not stop, is to not accept.
This character is becoming increasingly difficult to play.
It was challenging to be so controlled. She’s dealing with so many things and so many emotions, but she’s also a leader. And a leader can’t break in front of her people. We will see moments where we’re reminded that she is this vulnerable being that has been hurt deeply.
It has been challenging to be a character who is so dark and try to find redeemable qualities. We still wanted people to be rooting for her on some level. I think it was difficult because I think at time I wanted her to be having a little more fun with it, but she’s not really taking pleasure in what she’s doing. She’s not good or bad she’s just right and that’s a weird tone to play. It proved to be very difficult.
Dolores definitely reached full sentience when she shot Dr. Robert Ford.
Yes, that was the first real choice she ever made. Maeve getting off the train and Dolores killing Ford were the first real choices they’ve ever made. Yes, she’s awake. She’s sentient. As far as I know. To my knowledge that’s what I’ve been told. And I think Jona and Lisa have also said that.