Working in Westworld Was “Activism And Acting Combined,” Says Thandie Newton

The actress recalls the profound impact the show has had on her

English actress Thandie Newton who plays Madame Maeve Millay in HBO’s Westworld sat down with Oprah Winfrey in Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series. Newton and Oprah interviewed each other about their respective work and rekindled a heart-warming kinship. In some of the most interesting bits of the 40-minutes interview, Newton, who has recently been signed on in a standalone Han Solo film, talked extensively about her experience of working in Westworld.

Thandie Newton Westworld
Thandie Newton talks Westworld

Westworld actress Thandie Newton recalls the time when she was offered the role. She only knew that it was the part of a “madame of a saloon” and that there were “a lot of nudity” involved. Being very aware of the way the entertainment industry often portrays female characters, Newton had a mind of turning down the offer. She recalls meeting Westworld co-showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy who were “more nervous about talking to me [Newton] than I was about talking to them.”

Here’s what happened next:

“But they made me see, and I think anyone who’s seen the show, you realize, is that in order to truly understand the subjugation, the oppression, the dehumanization of these robots – they had to be naked.”

Newton also mentions that Jonathan Nolan is a “super-geek when it comes to anything futuristic,” and also that he is the most evolved feminist” she has known.

This really makes me wonder what prompted the Nolans to cast actors like Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood and whether the fact they are so vocal about the feminism-related issues (Westworld cast went to the Women’s March 2017) had any role in choosing them to play Maeve and Dolores.

The Westworld actress Thandie Newton had mentioned it earlier how she felt like an “activist every single day” on set playing the role of the fearless madam Maeve Millay. Touching on the topic, Newton said:

“It was activism and acting combined. And I did feel like that about Westworld. I felt that the setup, the premise, that these robots are a metaphor for the oppressed of mankind. And I just felt that it was so well choreographed, the storylines were so well drawn, that you’re taken in, you love these characters and you want to fight for them. And you become invested.”

Newton went on to deliberate on feelings she had had while playing Maeve and compared the liberation to that of having a “fourth child.”

“It felt like having that fourth baby. Because it was a moment of such intense self-affirmation, not for me Thandie, but for female power,” the actress said. “I haven’t felt like that before. And it’s ironic that I was standing there stark naked for a lot of it because I felt more in control than I’ve ever done because I said yes to this.”

Newton, like Evan Rachel Wood, praised the professionalism of the showrunners and the crew who were so respectful and compassionate that, “I’m surprised they all didn’t get butt-naked themselves just to make me feel better.”

It’s worth watching the entire interview with Thandie Newton and Oprah Winfrey.

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