Westworld’s Head of Security on Season 2’s Much Wilder West

A chat with Luke Hemsworth about filming Westworld Season 2.
Ashley Stubbs Westworld
By  · Published on April 21st, 2018

A chat with Luke Hemsworth about filming Westworld Season 2.

A lot is unknown with regards to Westworld‘s second season. The show about an amusement park full of robots called hosts which explores some big philosophical questions tends to answer a question with more questions. It’s no wonder its fertile ground for fan theories and close analysis. The last season ended with some new mysteries and the first few shots of a revolution which would threaten the park’s human inhabitants.

The revolution stands in direct odds with Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who, as the Head of Park Security, is in charge of protecting the human inhabitants of the park though it did seem that Stubbs was having problems of his own after being carried off by hosts toward the middle of last season. Both Stubbs and Behavior and Diagnostic Programmer, Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward), appeared to be dead. Well, luckily, Stubbs and Hughes seemed to have survived which leads us all to wonder: What do you do if you’re in charge of a robot amusement park when all hell breaks loose?

Well, if you’re looking for Luke Hemsworth’s character Ashley Stubbs to help you unravel the mysteries of Westworld, you’re gonna have a bad time. When I sat down with a panel of other writers to inquire as to the puzzle box of bullets, dust, and robotic memories, Luke Hemsworth was clear that Stubbs is not the guy with all the answers. However, Hemsworth did chat about Fares Fares anti-bug tattoo, Shogun world, and how maybe being the least in the known character is a good thing on this type of show.

What kind of new challenges will the Head of Park Security face?

The challenge of losing control. It’s cool. I get to do some great stuff. I get to pull Stubbs apart. Go deeper into who he is, where he comes from. I get to stand opposite some of the greatest actors in the world. It’s awesome.

What was the atmosphere on set for Season 2 as opposed to Season 1? How did you feel going into the Season 2?

Very similar. There’s a lot of work. No information, ever. About anything. Things changing at the last minute all the time. You kind of surrender a little bit. You just have to go with it. You can complain about it, ’til the cows come home but nothing changes. You let go you learn to deal with it. You learn to be fluid. You learn to go where you are needed when you are needed instantly. You have to be flexible and I think that is what a acting is. You have to be ready. You’ve just got to be ready all the time.

I don’t know it’s hard because I think actors are quite controlling. We feel that we need as much information about everything always. All the time.  Maybe it’s a little ego driven. It’s also kind of liberating to let go. I think everyone felt like that this year. There was this kind of resignation about how you just keep going. We know that the material is so good. We are getting great stuff. We have nothing to complain about. 

Did they ramp up the secrecy from Season 1 to Season 2?

They are kind of pretty consistent with drip feeding you information. Telling you nothing. It didn’t change at all they told us nothing this season. No, I think again that is part of the surrender of it. You know that they’re doing things on purpose and you can ask [show creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy] questions all day long and they’ll skirt around and change the subject. [Jonathan] actually by the end was just like, “Ok, that’s your one question.” Then, would walk off. I would be like, “Hey, c’mon. What about? Hey, c’mon.” Nope. See you tomorrow.

Do you feel like you know more or less about what is going with your character?

Yeah, probably less. I know my character definitely knows less. Poor little Stubbs. He’s constantly peeking over people’s shoulders saying “Hey, what’s happening? Can I be in this conversation?” It’s good fun. If [Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy] weren’t such amazing human beings, a wealth of knowledge, and very open with everything that they do, I think it would be a different story. They’re amazing. They are encyclopedias of film and encyclopedias of the show. So surrendering that control is easy when you are in those hands.

It seems like when you know too much on this show you end up dead. Does it feel safer when your character doesn’t know as much as the others?

For sure, yeah. I’m a character on my own little journey which is interesting. But compared to the incredible transformations the hosts are going through its minuscule. There is a little comfort.

We know from Season 1 that the theme park isn’t a huge money driver and that there is something larger at play. Do we get to see what that something else is?

That’s a question we played with right from the beginning. Who does Stubbs actually work for? Who does he owe his allegiance too? What is this Delos Corporation? Who does he call at the end of the day? We do delve deeply into that part.

Is there a hint of a favorite moment of yours so far?

I love shogun world. It’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful. The performances are beautiful. It looks like classical Japanese cinema with a little Westworld twist. I think people will be blown away by that and a few other things. It’s so hard. I just list them off.

If you had to pick an alternative tagline for Season 2 what would you pick?

That’s putting me on the spot. [laughs] Who are you really?

Angela Sarafyan watches the show as the fans watch the show. Do you watch the show as the fans watch it?

No, I watched it last night. I couldn’t wait. I got to watch the first two episodes last night and it was epic. What I do enjoy is watching it with my wife because I don’t tell her anything throughout the season when I am shooting. I barely even get her to run lines with me anymore. Just cause, it gives too much away. So, it is great to watch it with her and rediscover all those little things you forget. Sometimes you can read those scripts three times and be going, “I don’t get it.” Then watch it and be like, “That’s what that means.” So that is cool to rediscover the storylines as well.

Do any friends or family ask you to give them spoilers?

No, I think people are content. Again, it is nice to not know. It pulls you this way it pulls you that way. I want to know tell me the spoiler. But do you really want to know? You want to have it unfold the way it is meant to unfold the way the creators want it to unfold that is the way. So that is the beauty of not giving it away. I don’t have many people ask. People will do that thing where they ask then go “No, don’t tell me!” I like to misdirect. I say, “They’re dinosaurs in this one. Aliens.”

Do you have any favorite on-set moments you can share?

I think me and Fares Fares probably laughed more than I’ve ever laughed on set with anyone. He has a tattoo on his arm which basically says, “Bugs Suck.” So he is really afraid of insects and so I would go out of my way to make sure there are always insects surrounding him and various creatures. He hates bugs.

Did you learn anything new while on-set?

All the time. I like to be a sponge, for sure. There are so many of the greatest actors around. If you don’t soak that up, then you are missing the point. I think that’s part of your journey not just as the character but as an actor to suck it all up. I think that gets the creative part flowing to when you’re just not so focused on yourself, you’re focused on the external and what everyone else is doing. You’re listening a little bit more as well. Constantly learning is cool. It’s fun. That’s the great part about acting. You never reach a point where you are like, “Ahh, that’s it. I’m great.” You constantly have to go, “Ah, that sucked I have to do that better.”

You had a great cameo in Thor: Ragnarok as an actor playing Thor along with Matt Damon as an actor playing Loki. Are we going to get to see any more of you in the Marvel Universe?

I hope so. We’ve been talking to Taika [Watiti]. I’m pretty sure me there is could be a scene where me and actor Loki are in a pub in another world and we’re thrown in somewhere and end up saving people. I mean there is a lot. It was so much fun. One of the best days around. It was awesome. Except my sweat was dripping on Matt Damon’s eyes. It was like 110 degrees in Atlanta and Taika is feeding us lines. I’m dripping sweat on Matt. My beard is flopping off. They stick glue on you and you get sweatier and then they paint more glue on you. You are all sweaty. Matt was great about it. He’s great. He’s a lovely guy.

Are you looking to unspool the mysteries of Westworld? The show’s second season returns on April 22, 2018.

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Writer and law student.