Thandie Newton. Picture: Instagram

When the first season of Westworld aired in South Africa, TV buffs couldn’t get enough of the show, which is based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie of the same title.

The casting of Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden and Ed Harris, to highlight a few, certainly amplified the appeal of the sci-fi drama.

The other elements - a compelling script, adroit direction and laudable cinematography - worked in its favour. So much so that we now have a second season.

Reflecting on her character Maeve Millay’s incredible journey in season one, Newton says, “In imagining this futuristic world, the production designer and their team, they got to create a whole new way of looking at things, and to imagine what it would be like.

“ Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (co-screenwriters and producers), with the limitations of budget and time, did everything that they could to make this a visual feast and something which allowed you to be immersed in another reality.

“And as an actor, I wouldn’t look at a green screen - I would look at what’s real a lot of the time. I did Star Wars, and there’s a lot of green screen and a lot of real stuff, too. A hell of a lot of real stuff - I was in so much mud But I did get lost in this character in Westworld.

“It felt very tender, and I think it’s partly because I trusted the environment I was in, and having had such a long experience with the crew.

“They’re the people that I really developed huge trust and love for.”

Bringing to life the complexities of a character like Maeve, a host who acts as the madam of Sweetwater, is an actor’s dream. 

More so when her erased memories return and her robotic state is transformed into an unpredictable one.

Newton reveals, “I had to go back to a very simple place of feeling. It wasn’t with the kind of complexity if I play an adult with so many layers. 

With Maeve it’s almost like a childlike quality.

“The singular emotions were very powerful, and I think they do obviously transfer to the screen and to the audience in a very powerful way, because you’re looking at something so innocent.

“It reminds me of Beloved in a way, where I played an 18-month-old toddler in the body of a 21-year-old girl. I felt like I was revisiting that idea in playing Maeve.

“In season two she grows up. It’s funny, actually, whenever people talk about Maeve and say she did this, she did that; I actually think of her as it did this and it did that because she’s a robot.”

“And that’s the other thing that’s so fascinating about this show. I think it’s because I’m protecting myself, because the audience isn’t the only one that will find it difficult to see these characters go through horrible situations - you develop an attachment and a real reverence - you feel an intimacy with these characters because their feelings are so pure, they’re not corrupted, because a lot of what they are going through is new.

“And that allows you to trust your attachment to them because you can believe it. You can have faith. You can really trust there’s nothing behind the curtains, just all you’re seeing.

“So for these brand-new, fresh-out-of-their-egg beings to go through any kind of difficulty, it’s so awful. I can’t bear it. That’s a lot of what I went through in season two.”

It looks like the series has upped the ante on its addictive storylines. And there are a few new faces (translated: twists) to watch out for, too!

* Westworld 2 is on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Mondays at 10pm.

IOL