Finding Clementine’s Voice: Angela Sarafyan on 'Westworld’ Season 2

Angela Sarafyan on Westworld's Season 2 and Clementine's freedom.

Westworld

Angela Sarafyan on Westworld’s Season 2 and Clementine’s freedom.

Westworld is a show about a futuristic amusement park inhabited by robots called hosts. Park goers then enter the park and can live out their fantasies—as mundane or profane as they may be. However, the first season of HBO’s hit show revealed that these hosts aren’t mindless NPCs. Slowly, they were gaining sentience. This new sentience leads to the hosts’ realization that these human’s they’ve been dealing with haven’t exactly been benevolent. The last season of Westworld ended with Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan) shooting the Man in Black (Ed Harris) after Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) shot park co-creator Ford in the head. Thereby, both women fired the first shots of an impending robotic revolution within the pleasure cruise of a western RPG for the wealthy and sadistic.

I and a roundtable of other outlets got the chance to interview Clementine herself, Angela Sarafyan, about Westworld’s second season, and by extension, the revolution we’ll be witnessing this season. Oh, and if you want to up your theory game, perhaps you should be inquiring as to Terry George’s predictions.

Did it feel very different going into this season actually knowing the show you are making?

I guess, yes. Before it was in your imagination, and now, you can see what it looks like. For it to be well received was such a wonderful thing. But actually, I had no idea what season 2 was going to look like, and so the mystery continued. I had no idea where the characters would go and what would happen. It wasn’t what I expected. It really wasn’t. I haven’t even seen episode 1, so I can’t wait to see it. They sent it to me; I just chose not to see it. I chose not to see it because I want to experience it with everyone else. There is something kind of cathartic in that. Where everybody in the world is watching it, and you are watching it. You’re like, “Shit, is that what happened?” Then, you kind of live through it every week.

Do you follow along in real time with some of the fans?

Yes, I love reading everything on Reddit and everything. The thing with the posters and how they saw every single detail. It was just so funny. I remember Jonah was talking about how he wants people on Reddit to write Season 3 and he’ll produce.

Do you have any favorite Reddit or other fan theories?

I had a funny experience in Season 1 and I’ll tell you this. Do you know Terry George the filmmaker? He did Hotel Rwanda. He saw episode 1 and I happen to meet him and he said, “Oh, Bernard’s a host.” I’m like, “What, no he is not.” He said, “Yes, he is.” I’m like, “How do you know this?” I couldn’t tell him how do you know this. I was like, “No, you’re wrong.” Jeffrey didn’t know he was a host in episode 1 of Season 1, but Terry George did.

You were involved with the gag, the Rickroll, what was that like?

It was really fun! Jonah was like, “Can you learn to play this?” He told me the night before. I was like, “Sure.” Then, I just practiced because I play the piano. So it was just a matter of getting the notes, and that’s why you see me, and I’m focused. I didn’t have time to prepare it, so I was just like, “Come on, don’t make mistakes now Angela.”

Since now you know the characters and the setting, what was it like on-set shooting Season 2 compared to Season 1?

Well, there are so many different storylines. It’s just a matter of creating relationships. Clementine and Maeve, its love. It’s just friendship and a person you trust. If you love someone and they died or if you love someone you are connected with them always. So I loved having that and being in the Mariposa all of Season 1 and Sweetwater and the relationships there. I didn’t see where Season 2 would go. We felt like a family. It was just nice to see everyone because I like the people I work with. So I felt so grateful every day that I get to work with them. It just felt good. Even if we have to wake up at 3 am and drive an hour out. I would wake up sometimes, my call time was at 3, and I would wake up sometimes at 2 and then drive out to the desert and I would be just so happy to see everyone. Thandie [Newton], Ingrid [Bolsø Berda] and Rodrigo [Santoro] fly in. Ingrid flies in from Norway, Thandie’s from England and he’s from Brazil. So when we are together we kind of like hold those moments and then they are gone. Every time we’ve met with Evan [Rachel Wood] and the rest of the cast it’s really nice. It’s just so loving and we care about each other as people as well. It’s all very positive.

Any details you can reveal about where Clementine Pennyfeather’s story picks up in Season 2? 

Well, maybe we might see some things in Season 2 that might reflect a little bit of that freedom experienced in Season 1. Freedom is the word I like to use.

Will there be any bigger reveals this season?

I would also say that more questions come up with it. I think that, was it Jeffrey Wright that said it’s like a kitchen sink drama? Season 1 he described like that. I would say, I concur. I don’t know how to explain how unexpected some of those things are that happen. I needed explanations from Jonah. Literally, talking in between takes trying to understand with Lisa, “Okay, what does that mean?” It’s kind of out of anything you can imagine.

What can you give us about Clementine’s role removed from the Mariposa?

That’s a good question. Well, with where things end in Season 1, I think what was great about this season is I got to play other parts of her and discover all the facets of Clementine. You’ll get to see that. She’s not just defined by being a saloon girl. She’s more than that. I felt very fortunate because I was able to use Clementine to live out some dreams that I’ve had. She’s a very kind of strong character in her vulnerability and I got to explore that.

Are Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy more forthcoming with the actors on set as far as reveals and information? 

I think so. What they do is a really interesting way of directing. Usually, you get all this information and thinking about it and basing everything on it. In this case, they almost direct by not telling you everything. Whatever information you have you start to create with that and I love that. Because then you don’t realize that you just have the right amount to make this episode real which will then inform the next and the next and there is something liberating about that because I trust them. They won’t steer us wrong.

What would you say is the hardest part of filming the show?

I would say it’s not hard for me at all. I had such a good time. I know it was really hard for the crew. They worked crazy hours but I think it’s an impossible thing to shoot ten movies in a short time. I think everyone seems to be very happy so for me it was just pure joy. To go to set and to see everyone and to work and to be in her clothes. To daydream about Clementine and her world. I just loved it. I love it. It is like a fantasy world you get to live in for hours and hours. So it was fun. Sometimes it can be hard on you but I think that when you do what you love you are actually fed more from that then you’re tortured by it.

What do you think this show has to say about the world we live in today?

I think even in Season 1 it was a real reflection of where we’re going in the world and society with technology and artificial intelligence. The idea of living to progress in a good way is the idea. I find that Westworld in its themes are very violent and show humanity’s side of destruction but at the same time, there’s this drive to grow and to find your voice. I think with Clementine, specifically, I found that in Season 1 I found her as a woman finding her strength even though she was set up in that laboratory. She literally fought back. With what is happening with the Women’s March and this unity with women. I find that very moving. The show in a strange way has women as the leading characters. Women are the heroes. We’re the ones starting a revolution and I think that with that diversity intact there is a growth and season 2 continues that same conversation but even further.

Characters like Maeve and Clementine are essentially in the sex industry within the game. How does that factor into their feminism?

It’s interesting because at that time actually being a prostitute was a woman that works. So she had a higher rank. It wasn’t looked down on. It wasn’t like, if you were a prostitute you aren’t some tired drugged up prostitute it was more like she was a working woman. They are building they are leaders. So I looked at it from that point of view and I thought being a feminist doesn’t mean hiding your feminity. Actually, it means really taking that space.  Saying, “Yes, I’ve got curves. I’ve got boobs and an ass and I like it.” It’s saying, “I will enjoy what was given to me and there is nothing wrong with that.” When I was 15 I remember my body started changing and I was walking down the street and some guy honked and whistled. I remember turning around and yelling, “I’m fifteen. I’m fifteen!” He’s like, “No, you are not.” I just kept walking. I thought that would make you close off. I think Maeve and Clementine tell you to celebrate it. I found that in Season 1. It’s more of a now we found our freedom and let’s see what we can do with it.

Red Dots

Westworld‘s Season 2 premieres on April 22, 2018. You can also catch Angela Sarafyan in the forthcoming Ted Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

Writer and law student.