‘Westworld’: Jeffrey Wright on Bernard’s Big Revelation and the Joys of Reddit Fandom

‘Westworld’: Jeffrey Wright on Bernard’s Big Revelation and the Joys of Reddit Fandom

I’m really just trying to gauge where I am, and what I’m trying to do, moment to moment. One of the first things I do when I step onto a set is I scan the set and try to take in every detail, because what I’m trying to find are tools that I can use to incorporate myself into the space, and tools that I can use to make the performance authentic, and to build on the authenticity of that. And so my questions to Jonah and Lisa are really about scanning those things that I need in order to understand what I’m doing, and how I’m going to get to the other side of a scene. That’s it.

What specific details on set helped you? For me as a viewer, it was whether or not Bernard was wearing glasses.

For sure. That’s one of the markers of the timelines. It’s also about trying to determine what in the space I can use to help better tell the story that the scene is asking you to tell. In the first five or six weeks of filming this, we were filming scenes from later episodes that I hadn’t fully read, because we were front-loading Anthony Hopkins, because he was going off to do “King Lear.” So it required me, even more so, to be attentive to the moment and to perform within it, which is the old actor’s mantra. So that further aligned me to Bernard’s place in all of this, because he’s wrestling with his immediate, irregular relationship to time, space and memory.

What about larger philosophical or thematic questions?

As we got rolling into the season, we did start having conversations about more core ideas — not for the show, but for Bernard — of agency, self-determination, of creating himself in his own image, of freedom. That, in many ways, was the larger question that he was wrestling with. I mean, it really is about this patriarchal hierarchy that existed between him and Ford. That’s been his host’s life’s purpose. And when he’s finally able to shatter that, when he rejects Ford and heads out into the desert on his own, that’s where it begins.

Do you view Bernard as a hero?

I think survival, with agency intact, is heroic for anyone or anything.

The big Dolores-Charlotte reveal made me go back to previous episodes, just to double check: The entire time Charlotte was with Strand, that was Dolores. That was Dolores teasing Bernard, “You made it out alive,” and the bit about skeletons in his closet. That was Dolores interrogating him, or pretending to. I thought something was off about those scenes!

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