Westworld recently kicked off its 2nd Season after a hiatus of more than a year and, by all accounts, it’s been worth the wait. Dread Central recently had the opportunity to sit down with several cast members of HBO’s hit sci-fi series, including Angela Sarafyan, who fans will immediately recognize as the hypnotic seductress, Clementine Pennyfeather.
Those in the know can attest to the fact that Westworld is extremely brutal, certainly not what one might expect from a show that’s (basically) about robot cowboys. Westworld’s female “hosts” specifically are often subjected to cruel atrocities; and while no one takes more punishment than Delores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), Clementine’s suffering in Season 1 is legendary.
Describing her character to a group of journalists, Sarafyan explained: “The tragedy of Clementine is what brings her strength out. She was framed, in a way, and then put down. But there was an innocence to Clementine before that; she was always looking for a connection beyond sex.”
Portraying a thoroughly victimized character must be hard on thespians tasked with bringing them to life, but when Sarafyan talks about the catharsis of Clementine’s revenge, we can celebrate it as a victory for both the character and the actress. In addition to jawing about Westworld, we got Sarafyan to discuss her participation in the upcoming Ted Bundy biopic, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
Westworld airs Sundays a 9 PM on HBO.
Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park — which is looked after by robotic “hosts” — allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. No matter how illicit the fantasy may be, there are no consequences for the park’s guests, allowing for any wish to be indulged. Westworld — which is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name — features an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Golden Globe winner Ed Harris.
Dread Central: Since Dread Central is a horror website, tell us how you’d convince a horror fan that Westworld is worthy of their time. Complete this sentence: “If you love horror movies, you should watch ‘Westworld’ because…”
Angela Sarafyan: You should definitely watch Westworld because it makes you face death. It’s a show that questions your mortality. The show not only projects these feelings but makes you think about the boundlessness of human destruction and how far we can take our reality. Meaning: Will technology eventually be our destruction? And it’s poetic too!
AS: It’s not a typical Ted Bundy movie because it’s not about the atrocities; it’s not about nasty killings. It’s more about the psychological element of it. It’s a different perspective. Imagine having a friend getting arrested and being like, “What? Why? What’s going on?” And then all these things start to come out and you’re thinking, “That’s insane! How can this person that I love have done that?”
And what was crazy about doing that movie is I actually met one of Ted Bundy’s girlfriends on set. She was there and we had dinner together.
DC: And that’s the character you play?
AS: I actually play the girlfriend’s best friend who tries to convince her that something’s wrong. She has an addiction to alcohol and becomes very self-destructive and I have to convince her that there’s something wrong with [Ted Bundy]: “You can not talk to him or be in touch with him.” And this happened in real life. I found some articles about [my character, Joanna] telling her best friend “This cannot continue,” and they actually called the cops on Ted. And the way the film is made, I don’t want to reveal too much about it, but you understand why.
DC: We’re excited to see it!
AS: Yeah, I hope you like it. The director is Joe Berlinger and he’s a documentary filmmaker, so his whole approach reflected that. He wanted to document the story as it was happening, which made things a little trickier than regular filmmaking.
DC: On Westworld, your character takes so much abuse. Besides Delores and Maeve, I can’t think of anyone who takes the kind of brutality Clementine’s subjected to. As an actress, did that ever weigh on you? Did you ever go back to your trailer feeling depressed, like you’d actually been abused?
AS: I found that everything led to that scene [of Clementine’s revenge] and I thought, “Yes!” That is the moment where she found her strength, even though she was the victim of someone else’s agenda and that led to her being put down. But that moment was when the character’s evolution really began. It shows that, sometimes, you find your strength during the most difficult moments.
And I was grateful for that because I think it was also a reflection of a lot of what we’re going through in the world today. When I participated in The Women’s March in Los Angeles, I was so amazed at the way millions of people came together. Women and men are finally being believed. And I personally know women who have been abused and even women who are still in abusive relationships. They don’t believe they have a voice.
And at that moment [snaps fingers] I think Clementine represented that voice. Her beating was very much like a domestic violence situation and she broke him; she killed him—and that was awesome! I loved it! And I love doing my own stunts, too.