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Westworld - Episode 1.08 - Trace Decay - Promo, Promotional Photos + Interviews

Episode #8: “Trace Decay”

Debut date: SUNDAY, NOV. 20 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Nov. 20 (11:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m.), 21 (11:45 p.m.), 22 (9:00 p.m.), 23 (10:30 p.m.), 25 (10:00 p.m.), 26 (1:50 a.m.) and 29 (8:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Nov. 21 (8:00 p.m.), 25 (8:00 p.m.), 26 (7:00 p.m.) and 27 (8:00 p.m.), and Dec. 4 (7:00 p.m.) and 10 (6:10 p.m.)

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) struggles with a mandate; Maeve (Thandie Newton) looks to change her script; Teddy (James Marsden) is jarred by dark memories.

Written by Charles Yu & Lisa Joy; directed by Stephen Williams.


The lobotomy scene must have been complicated as well — truly baring it all, body and soul, as we're saying goodbye to at the very least a version of Clementine. What do you remember about shooting that scene?

It was really funny. [Actors Ptolemy Slocum and Sidse Babett Knudsen] and I were laughing, because of what Ptolemy was wearing. The tech's outfits are all latex, and they have almost gills like fishes. We were playing with it. It wasn't so serious. We were laughing the whole time. But what I thought was, if Clementine is sweet — and you only see it in the beginning — I thought I would look directly in his face instead of looking out, even though she's in this sleep mode. She's still kind of functioning within her regular reverie of love. I was playing with the idea that she's looking at him and has a crush on him before he puts that drill in her nose. From a distance, you could see me looking at him. Then, when he did it — for me, it was really sad. Everything you are is now dying, and I remember my whole body and my eyes were welling up. It was a sad, sad moment. (Pauses.) I loved playing her. I think she's a wonderful creature. She's so beautiful, and I'm so glad I got to bring that kind of life into the show.

You shared so many scenes with Thandie Newton this season. Can you share a memory of working together?

Thandie and I have become friends. I really adore her. I think she's just a beautiful woman in life and everything she's done with her family. Everything I felt for her in the show, I really feel towards her. There's nothing put on. Never a false moment. I genuinely admire her as a person and I look up to the things she's accomplished as an actress and as a woman. Even now, we text and e-mail each other about how much we care about each other. When I see her character, my heart melts. I think she's a really wonderful person. It's a gift. It's not always the case when you work with people that you'll love or care about them. Really, throughout the entire season… I was the first actress who came to Melody Ranch [in Santa Clarita, California], where we were shooting, two years ago. I tested before I got the part and I met Jonah and Lisa, and they're such kind and generous and creative people. That's a rarity. This whole production, along with Thandie and the other actors involved, has been … and as I'm talking, it makes me emotional. You want to have people in your life who inspire you, and that's what they did. Not only did the show affect my life and the character I played, but the people did as well. The whole experience has been amazing.

As much as you can say, is this it for Clementine? Is this where the story ends for her?

Yeah. Sad to say, but yeah, Clementine… this is where it's sad for me. It's kind of the end for her. I loved playing her and I hope that I'm going to get to play a strong character [like her] again. In the end, she really is so strong. I hope I'll get a chance to continue that kind of character in the future. You'll have to tune in and see.

When did you land on the idea that Bernard is a host?

Jonathan Nolan: That was always the intention with his character. We knew that Ford … as you come to know Anthony Hopkins' character in the show, you start to realize the depth of his misanthropy. He plays as a cipher for much of the season, and that's intentional. There's no actor more capable of portraying ambiguous moral standing than Tony on screen. The idea that he would create his own collaborators felt natural to us and was baked into the story from the beginning. We only shared it with Jeffrey after the pilot. As with all of our actors, we only doled out information on a need to know basis. As much as possible, we tried to keep them in the present tense with the narrative. But for Jeffrey, for a number of reasons, it was important he understood the exact kind of creature he's portraying on screen.

The question that's on Bernard's mind in this moment is also the question on the viewer's mind. What about his wife? What about Charlie? We even see a scene between Bernard and his son at the beginning of the episode. So, how do we reconcile this? If Bernard is a host, are his family members nothing more than expressions of his programming?

Joy: It's interesting, because every host, as we've talked about before, has a cornerstone and back story. That's what tethers them to the truth of their reality and their character. It seems that Bernard's story is his family. There are also practical things that happen. When he goes and calls his wife and they have this conversation… it's funny, because the script is written in a way to mimic, in different words, in more naturalistic words, a conversation you would have with a grieving ex-wife. They mimic the diagnostics that the hosts are given down below. She asks him if he ever questions the nature of his reality, essentially, if he's been having dreams. Basically, while part of it is to reinforce Bernard's sense of his own backstory, part of it is also a way for Ford to check up on him and make sure he's not reaching.

Yes, I want to get into that in a moment. But what was your reaction as an actor learning this about Bernard?

I glitched for a few moments, then I said to Lisa, “Cool.” It just provided meaty additional layers onto Bernard. She also described Bernard very early on as understated. He’s very quiet, he’s earnest, he’s flying under the radar, he’s an everyman. The foil of him being a host is starker because we initially perceive him to be unvarnished and straightforward. To that extent it informed the tonality of my performance — he’s steady Bernard, he’s somebody not to be second guessed.

Let’s get into that amazing reveal scene then with Bernard, Ford and Theresa. He’s not only a host but also has to kill his lover.

That was a heavy read when we got that script. There were a lot of text messages flying around between a lot of cast members. I did not know Theresa was going to be meet her end. We all have certain secrets and I did not know [what Bernard was going to do] and Sidse held onto the fact that’s she’s only on [the show] for seven episodes very close to her vest. But it’s obviously a fulcrum scene in the first season so we were pretty focused but at the same time it all made logical sense. The aim was, from my perspective, to see all the synthetic blood rush from Bernard’s being and see him as a machine and tool.

TVLINE | I’ll take anything you can tell me about Episode 10, the season finale.

Let’s see. Well, I would say I was on the edge of my seat all the way until I got the 10 script… I think we all had different ideas, and then when 10 came — I think I could speak for most of the cast — the general feeling was like, “Holy f—king s—t.” Because basically, what they’ve done is they’ve somehow tied up everything you wanted to know and then pointed this whole world of other s–t that you hadn’t really thought of that now you really, really want to know, too. It’s not some bulls–t cliffhanger where you’re like, “Oh f–k, what now?” It’s like, “Oh my God, thank you, and I can’t wait for more.”

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