HBO’s Westworld came onto the scene October in The Year That Shall Remain Unnamed…2016…to satisfy our premium cable desires while we all await the next season of Game of Thrones. After binge-watching all ten episodes in a single weekend, I can officially say that Westworld has deposed the reigning television monarch of my esteem (sorry Jon Snow).
Of all the amazing things to be said about the show, and the actors in it, Evan Rachel Wood’s portrayal of Dolores, an artificially intelligent android, and the oldest Host in Westworld, is singular in her ability to portray a myriad of emotions and levels of consciousness within just a few moments, not to mention over the season’s entire arc. Beginning the first episode as a rather typical “damsel in distress” type, Wood quickly shows us that there is a veritable labyrinth of nuance behind the archetypal fairytale princess exterior.
What intrigues me most about Wood’s Dolores is the quality of her voice. Several times in the series Dolores must turn on a dime to dramatically shift from her sweet southern tones to a rich and accent-free alto when called upon by her handler to “remove accent” or “emotional affect.” The effect is something akin to watching a mechanical switch being flipped and presents an uncanny subject for the viewer to reckon with. Evan Rachel Wood is able to convey the depth of humanity as deftly as she does the cold detachment of an android.
In an interview with Seth Meyers, Wood called the show “the acting Olympics” and it is clear, particularly in the season finale, that she deserves a spot on the podium.
by Brett Ashleigh
Brett is a queer femme from Durham, NC. She examines the sonic characterizations of marginalized bodies in film. She knows every word to The Princess Bride, is a sucker for Center Stage and Bring it On, and considers director Todd Haynes her spiritual soulmate.
She holds an MFA in Sound Design and an MA in Cinema Studies from Savannah College of Art and Design, and is pursuing a PhD in Communications from Simon Fraser University.