One of my favorite characters in season 1 of Westworld was Clementine Pennyfeather (played by Angela Sarafyan), an android prostitute who works under the supervision of the park’s madam, Maeve (Thandie Newton), who ends up becoming self-aware, throwing the high-tech attraction into a state of chaos.
Season 2 of Westworld kicks off this Sunday, April 22nd at 9:00pm EST on HBO, and in advance of the premiere, Daily Dead attended a recent press day for the series, where we had the opportunity to speak with Sarafyan about the evolution of her character, whether or not we’ll see more of her relationship with Maeve explored in the new season, and more.
[SPOILER WARNING: While nothing too in-depth about season 2 of Westworld is discussed below, some of this interview delves into the events of season 1. So, for those who haven’t watched it, consider this a warning that there might be some items below that could be considered spoilers.]
With season 2 of Westworld, what can you tell us about Clementine's journey? Does she get to just tear shit up?
Angela Sarafyan: I think maybe you might see a little bit of that [laughs]. I know she's not in episode 1, but she will, maybe, make an appearance in episode 2. What was fun about season 2 is that I got to play around with different elements of her. It was interesting to have that opportunity. I think in season 1, the tragedy about her is what brings her strength out. She's framed in a way, and then she's put down. There was innocence to Clementine before all of that happened, a naiveté where she was looking at finding love in every person, every woman and man that she comes across, and now it’s different. She wanted to make that other connection besides sex, and you will see that.
I don't know how much you can say, but how did you get to rethink Clementine in new ways for season 2?
Angela Sarafyan: There are some new elements to her. That's what was fun, is that there were these new challenges and just to find another approach to revealing certain things about her character. It was a different creative approach, and that was really fun for me because you say, "What's really going on and how do I reveal that with this situation?" If I can be as vague as possible [laughs].
When you're playing a character like this, where there's a very subtle physicality to this role, does it change your approach as an actress? Do you have to play certain moments a different way because essentially you’re a host? You have your reveries, but you’re not quite a fully realized human being, which means you have to carry yourself differently.
Angela Sarafyan: Absolutely. And because I used to dance as a child, I found that through the physical movement, you reveal a story. If I'm limited in physicality, I still have the ability to reveal something just by the way that you sit. If I sat hunched over versus completely straight, it's a revelation. There was this thing called "psychological gestures" that Michael Chekhov would talk about. He would say that it's in the way you walk. If you're walking through water versus the air, he'd have these exercises and I started to implement those elements into playing her. It was really fun.
Plus, I watched videos on AIs and how they move and how not human they are. What makes us human is all these little movements that you're doing: the smile and the blinking, the finger movements. These are all the little things that they would implement in the characters in order to make them real. I would also make other choices consciously because I believed Clementine was a sensual woman. I thought she was a dreamer, so I thought there was more grace and fluidity in her than, let's say, if I was playing Armistice or someone else.
There is a really interesting dynamic between Clementine and Maeve for season 1. It was almost very bittersweet at the end when she goes off and she's ready to do her thing and has to say goodbye to Clem. I'm curious now that we know what we know going into season 2, are we going to see that dynamic explored more?
Angela Sarafyan: Possibly. I think that love connects Clementine and Maeve. That bond is ultimately what you're searching for in life, like who are those few people who are dearest to you? I can literally say it's less than five. I think that's their relationship, and that they're connected. You will see elements of that explored in this season, but I don't want to give away anything more.
Is it kind of daunting and thrilling as an actor to work with limited information and have things be big reveals to you when they come along?
Angela Sarafyan: For me it is, because it's that same idea of not having a phone and having information right to you in that moment. I like not knowing and having the daydream happen. I think within the daydream is where creativity lives.
And having that chance to think about Clementine, and just the few thoughts that they've given me, starts to open up other doors, and then makes me think, "Okay, well, if this is what that means ..." and then they add some more information. It's like slowly adding the ingredients to a recipe.
First, you always think, "Okay, if I had known this, maybe I would have done this." But it somehow works, because they're actually directing with giving you a certain amount of information. It's a different kind of direction, and because I trust them, I don't feel that I'll be steered wrong. I really don't. They're incredibly thoughtful creators of the show and directors.
Can you tell us a little bit about your part in the Ted Bundy biopic [Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile]?
Angela Sarafyan: Well, it's not a typical Ted Bundy movie because it's not about the nasty side of killings. It's really about the psychological element of it. It's like having a friend and all of a sudden they're arrested for something. You're like, "Wait, what's going on?" Then you hear all these things start to come out and, "Oh, he might have done this? That's insane. How could this person that I love have done that?"
What was kind of crazy about doing that movie is I actually met the girlfriend, the actual girlfriend to Ted Bundy, on set. She was there. We had dinner together and talked. In the movie, I play her best friend who tries to convince her that, because she has an addiction to alcohol and starts becoming very self-destructive, there's something wrong with Ted and you cannot talk to him or be in touch with him. This happened in real life. I found some articles about her, my character's name is Joanna, telling her best friend that this cannot continue. They actually did call the cops and report Ted.
In case you missed it, check here to read Heather's Westworld Season 2 interview with Luke Hemsworth.