image: screencap/HBO Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy on Westworld from the Season Two Super Bowl Ad

Playing Westworld‘s Dolores Was “So Painful but So Healing” for Evan Rachel Wood in Processing Her Experiences With Abuse

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Season One of Westworld was, among other things, all about female bodily autonomy, with the hosts’ lives as a metaphor for the objectification, regular abuse, and sexual assault too many women experience. One of those women is Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Dolores on the show. As the show’s lead and beating heart, Dolores had to bear the brunt of the show’s abuse and violence. Playing that in S1, coupled with the vengeance she will be enacting in S2, has been hugely cathartic for Wood.

She recently did an in-depth interview with The New York Times about the show, and about how playing Dolores helped her finally allow herself to feel all the feelings she tried to numb or power through regarding past abuse and rape, first at the hands of an abusive partner, then by a stranger in a bar’s storage closet.

“I hadn’t even cried about my experiences until after Westworld,” she reveals. “And I didn’t even realize that until I’d done Westworld. It was like the floodgates opened. It just felt like an exorcism; it was so painful but so healing.”

Wood has managed to take those terrible experiences and channel them not only into a brilliant performance on Westworld, but into doing real good for abuse and assault victims in this country. Recently, she appeared before Congress to testify on behalf of a Survivor’s Bill of Rights, opening up about her personal experiences to encourage changes in our legal system that would be more supportive of victims.

Regarding the upcoming season of Westworld, it was easier for Wood to experience that catharsis during Season One than it was for her when filming the current season, which premieres later this month. As we’ve seen in the S2 trailers and that Super Bowl ad, Dolores is all vengeance and fury S2, which is a far cry from where Wood has ended up in real life. “I’ve worked for a very long time to not be angry and vengeful,” she says, “so it was hard to take pleasure in that, even though I knew that the character had definitely earned it.”

The full interview at the Times is definitely an interesting read, so you should check that out. Meanwhile, Westworld returns to HBO for an all-new season April 22. 

(via The Wrap, image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.