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Evan Rachel Wood Feels Like a ‘Whole Person’ W…

Evan Rachel Wood is a woman of many talents.

Whether she’s portraying a character on the big screen or showing off her powerful vocals on stage while covering songs from the large “rolodex” in her mind, the Westworld actress says she “can’t help but not feel the music and turn it into a story.”

“I think I consume much more music than I do film because it’s a language that makes more sense to me — a well-rounded language that’s much more subtle and intricate than English to me,” she tells PEOPLE about combining her skills. “I feel like I’m fully speaking as a whole person when I’m singing.”

“Sometimes you don’t want to become someone else and you’d rather be a hyped up version of yourself, and I think that’s why I think music is really good for me and why I love doing it,” she adds. “It’s really where my soul is.”

In between projects, the Golden Globe-nominated actress, 31, has found time to live out her passion and hit the road with guitarist Zane Carney, who has worked with a star-studded list of performers including John Mayer, Avril Lavigne and U2 — for the their EVAN + ZANE tour, kicking off Tuesday night in New York City.

“Zane and I have known each other for nine years. I was in his band Carney’s music video, and ever since then we’ve been friends, especially because our musical taste is very similar and very eclectic,” she says about how they vibe together. “I feel like I’ve really been able to expand musically with Zane because you just know you’re in such good hands and he’s such an amazing guitar player it’s going to carry you through whatever you’re doing.”

She adds about how their interests have led them to create a unique string of shows: “I’ve always really been into an older sound, and with his jazz background and incredible talent on the guitar we’re able to cover so many different genres.”

And with a slew of music genres comes a slew of themes. From Psychedelia to Meow Wolf and Halloween to Jealousy, the audience is in for a new surprise with each and every show.

“What I love about it is that the audience never sees the same show twice, and him and I just get to have fun playing all of our favorite songs,” she says. “Creating the playlist is probably the most fun.”

“We like to bring a theatrical element to everything, and each time we play these characters that reflect the theme we’ve picked, so we’re definitely going to be in a really trippy place during those shows. I think the stage elements will reflect that,” she continues.

EVAN + ZANE kicks off Oct. 23 in New York City and travels through 14 cities before concluding in Raleigh, N.C. on Nov. 20. Tickets for the shows are on sale now.

Aaron Paul cast in Westworld season 3

Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul is headed to Westworld. Paul has joined the HBO sci-fi drama for season 3, EW has confirmed. The move marks the Emmy winner’s first cable TV series regular role since his work on the AMC drug drama. There are no details yet on Paul’s character.

The move comes as another leading man on Westworld, James Marsden, got snatched up by Netflix earlier this week to co-star in its dark comedy series Dead To Me — potentially signaling the end of Marsden’s involvement in the HBO drama.

Since Breaking Bad wrapped in 2013, Paul has starred in Hulu’s low-profile drama The Path and shot Apple’s upcoming series Are You Sleeping.

Westworld season 3 has no premiere date yet, though a 2020 return seems increasingly likely.

“No Bra, No Panties”: How Thirteen Defined A G…

Catherine Hardwicke was paid $3 on Thirteen — $2 for the screenplay, which she co-wrote with actress Nikki Reed (then 13), and $1 for directing. Fifteen years later, that film stands out as a still-potent cultural milestone for women who grew up in the early aughts — a searing snapshot of the twisted, painful turmoil of being a teenage girl, without the redeeming after school special epilogue. Thirteen spoke to us, not at us. 

“I was a first time director,” Hardwicke said during a Refinery29 roundtable for the landmark movie’s anniversary— the first time Hardwicke, Reed, and Evan Rachel Wood have been together since its release. “All the characters are women, and it was going to be rated R and about a teenager. That does not check the boxes for any studio.”

So, in her pursuit to get the film made, Hardwicke worked for nothing and poured whatever money she could into production. The filmmaker, who would go on to direct the first installment in the massive Twilight franchise, used her own furniture as props. Her car makes an appearance, as do some of her clothes. She and the cast, including leads Wood and Reed, slept in the rented house in Los Angeles where they filmed, often in the same bed. (Since then, the film has turned a profit — Hardwicke says she received a check for $18,000 two months ago.)

All of this — the paltry $1.5 million budget, the whirlwind one month summer shooting schedule — contributes to the raw, dizzying atmosphere of Thirteen, a dark and gritty take on the experience of being a teenage girl at a time when the only cinematic alternatives were Freaky Friday and The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Harmony Korine’s Kids — perhaps the closest example in terms of impact and subject matter — had come out nearly a decade before.

I vaguely remember the circumstances under which I saw Thirteen. It was likely a hot, humid early September day in Montreal — the kind that would make my best friend and I seek refuge in one of the city’s downtown movie theaters. I was 13; my best friend was days away from her own 13th birthday.

What I vividly recall are the feelings the film elicited. I remember being terrified, a fear I couldn’t exactly name, but which gnawed at my innards as I watched Tracy Freeland (Wood) morph from a prepubescent innocent into a sexualized harridan who hides her tongue and belly button piercings from her mother. Would I be like that? Should I be? I remember feeling seen, recognizing how intimate a relationship between two teenage girls can be. I remember squirming at the scenes showing interactions with boys, things I was starting to think about but couldn’t imagine myself actually going through. 

Of course, none of these anxieties were voiced as the lights came up, and my best friend and I wandered back out into the haze of the afternoon. But Thirteen had made its mark, as it has on countless women of my generation.

I wouldn’t learn until years later that the film was helmed by women. The script emerged out of a collaboration between Hardwicke and Reed, who had a personal connection: Hardwicke had been in a long-term relationship with Reed’s father and thought of her as a surrogate daughter. They kept in touch after the breakup, and Hardwicke started noticing that something wasn’t right with Reed. Much like Tracy, she was acting out, rising rapidly through the ranks of popularity at her West L.A. school. And then her friends got busted for selling crystal meth.

In her concern for Reed, Hardwicke invited the teen to her Venice Beach home. It was there that over a six-day period in January 2002, the pair wrote the script that would become Thirteen. In the aftermath, they made a pact: If Hardwicke could get the film into production, she would direct it, and Reed would star in it.

Still, the road ahead was rocky. An R-rated movie co-written by a teenager with female leads wasn’t exactly an easy sell. Securing funds wasn’t easy for Hardwicke, who was then working as a production designer in Hollywood, and had no prior directing experience; Reed, meanwhile, had never acted onscreen, and the screenplay was her first. It wasn’t until Holly Hunter, who would go on to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Tracy’s mother, signed on that the project finally got off the ground. After an acclaimed premiere at Sundance, where Hardwicke won the top directing award, Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the film for distribution. Thirteen was released in five U.S. theaters on August 20, 2003, and grossed $116,260 opening weekend. But the salacious subject matter resulted in word-of-mouth and heightened press coverage, especially for the teen leads. By its third week of release, Thirteen’s gross had increased by 622%, as did the film’s reach, as it went on to screen in 73 theaters, and then up to 243, for a total domestic gross of $4.6 million. 

But the value of seeing oneself represented on screen is something that’s harder to quantify.

“It takes women to tell female stories,” Reed says during the interview. This is something we’ve heard many times as Hollywood grapples with the way the industry historically treated women, as well as the systemic inequality that has resulted in a still-egregious gender gap.

Thirteen was an extreme portrayal of the alienation of an especially troubled teenage girl. But that hunger for an outlet for those complicated emotions is universal. “I had a need in me, like Tracy, to just explode,” Wood said. “And acting was something I did so that I could do that. I felt like I couldn’t do it anywhere else.

”If it’s been a while, here’s a quick recap: Tracy Freeland (Wood) is a good girl. She gets straight As, loves golden retrievers, and wears her fair blonde hair in cute dual buns. But that doesn’t mean everything’s rosy. Her poetry is an intense, poignant exploration of early teenagehood. Her single mother Melanie is a recovering alcoholic who runs a beauty salon out of her kitchen, and though she’s an attentive parent, she’s overwhelmed. And Tracy’s father (D.W. Moffett), constantly behind on child support, is too focused on his new family and new job to care very much. Tracy copes by locking herself in the bathroom and resorting to self-harm, an act that was shocking to many at the time. But not to Wood.

“I hadn’t really done drugs,” she said. “I was a lot of talk, sex-wise, but wasn’t really doing much. But the emotions, and that feeling of frustration and being lost and angry, and the dynamics with the family and the cutting — those were things where I was like, ‘Oh. I know what this is. Like, I understand this really well.”

“That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do it too,” the actress, who recently testified before Congress about a sexual assault that led her self-harm and two suicide attempts, explained. “Because I was like, I didn’t know cutting was a thing until I read the script. And that’s when I was like, ‘Other people do this?’

”So, when classmate Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed) comes along with her jeweled cross necklace, long glossy hair, and jeans so low you can see her thong peeking out, Tracy is already primed for some acting out. It would be easy to paint what comes next as black and white — and in fact, many of the film’s critics did so at the time. Evie and Tracy strike up a friendship, which leads Tracy down a bleak path of drugs, questionably consensual sexual encounters, illicit piercings, and shoplifting. But the truth is more complicated. In her own way, Evie is as vulnerable as Tracy. She lives with a woman named Brooke, sometimes referred to as her guardian, other times her cousin, whose main occupation seems to be recovering from Botox injections and getting drunk. She doesn’t care what Evie does with her time, as long as no ones calls the cops. With Evie by her side, Tracy upgrades to It Girl status at school. But that comes at the expense of her grades, her relationship with her mother, and even her own mental health.

The acting is fantastic. Seasoned child actress Wood, who would be nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award, handles Tracy’s descent into hell with fiery zeal, concealed under angelic looks. When, towards the end, she’s wandering Hollywood Boulevard in a crop top and smeared black lipstick, drunk, she looks like a nightmare version of herself, her inner turmoil having taken over. It’s a duality that would come into play later in her career, as Dolores, the mild host-turned-avenger on HBO’s Westworld. Reed exudes an uncomfortable degree of sexuality for such a young woman, but there’s also a sadness to her, a need to be loved. And as Melanie, a mother who loves her daughter fiercely, but is blind to the scope of what’s going on behind her closed bedroom door, Hunter quivers with anger, anxiety and concern.

Watching the film for the first time as an adult, I was amazed at how avant-garde it feels.

The central relationships aren’t romantic in nature. Instead, the film focuses on the dynamics between female friends and mothers and daughters. That fraught connection between Tracy and Melanie is one that we’re only just starting to see again, in films like Lady Bird, and, veering sharply into supernatural horror, Hereditary.

Evie and Tracy’s friendship is complex and intense, vacillating between almost sensual devotion and cruel rivalry, especially where Melanie’s affections are concerned. That need to be utterly consumed by one’s best friend while grappling with latent jealousy is so specific to young women of that age, and a dynamic that’s rarely portrayed, even today.

It’s so true to life that while filming, Wood and Reed developed a rapport that mirrored the one they were portraying on screen. “There were moments that I was completely in love with you,” Wood, who came out as bisexual in 2011, told Reed.“

We had this kind of innocence about our relationship that was so personal to us,” Reed responded. “It was ours, and it was so real […] And then, because a lot of that was in the movie, when it became something that the press could talk about, suddenly it was like our actual relationship, in a sense, was put out there for people to talk about.”

As often happens in Hollywood, especially where young girls are concerned, the stars were held up for comparison by the press. Who was cooler? Who was hotter? Who would have the best career? Things actually got so acute that, like Tracy and Evie, the two drifted apart, not speaking again until nearly a decade later.

“We had to talk about it when we were 25,” Reed said. “I actually went to [Hardwicke’s] house, and I said, ‘You know, I haven’t talked to Evan in so long, and I really miss her.’ You gave me her number, and I said, ‘Do you think she would even want me to call her?’ You were like, “Yeah. You guys are in such a similar space.’ We had both gotten married. I called [Wood], and it was so cool. [She was] like, ‘What are you doing tomorrow?’”

Still, Thirteen is best remembered for its shocking scenes — and there are many, including the opening shot, which shows Evie and Tracy sitting on a bed, huffing paint and punching each other in the face, laughing. A provocative confrontation later in the film shows Tracy bragging to her mother that’s she’s not wearing a bra or panties. 

In one memorable moment, Evie and Nikki seduce an older neighbor, played by then-27-year-old Kip Pardue, who reportedly wasn’t aware that the actresses were 14 until he showed up to shoot. “‘He was in shock,” Hardwicke said.” I was trying to talk him down off the ledge, ‘Look, we’re going to be safe. I’m going to be there, the teacher’s going to be there. It’s all gonna be cool.’"

Ground rules were established: A studio teacher was present at all times, sitting behind the couch the three were kissing on. “Couldn’t touch the nipples,” Wood recalled. “Couldn’t touch the top of Kip’s pants.”

All the same, the final film was extremely controversial, so much so that, Hardwicke said, juvenile court judges and directors of rehab centers, accompanied her at Q&As after early screenings so parents could voice their concerns.

“Three mothers stand up: ‘My daughter would never do that,’ she recalled. “And then the judge would say, ‘Excuse me, this movie is mild. Not one person got pregnant. No one got in a car crash, no one [died by] suicide. Nobody died. I see much more elevated cases in this every single day.’”

“I found myself in a weird position where I was being asked to be sort of the spokesperson for teen angst,” Reed said. (A clip from her 2003 appearance on Ellen shows her on the defensive, explaining that she’s a straight-A student: “I just got my report card.)

Both Reed and Wood are parents themselves now. Reed and husband Ian Somerhalder have a one-year-old daughter, Bodhi Soleil. Wood’s son Jack, from her previous marriage to actor Jamie Bell, is five. “I’d show it to my son,” she said of Thirteen. “ I think boys need to be watching more female-centric films anyways, so they have a better understanding about women, and opposite sex.”

Still, they now feel they have a deeper understanding of the visceral reaction adults, particularly parents, had to the film at the time. “I see it all differently,” Reed said. “I’m totally terrified, and I’m also really grateful for it. I feel like I have a really good understanding of some of the things that are going on.“

The movie helped open the door for Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, which graphically depicts scenes of sexual assault, self-harm, and suicide, and even to a certain extent Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham’s film about the inner life of a 14-year-old girl who turns to the internet to compensate for the feelings of inadequacy she’s facing in the real world.

The lack of social media does date the film, as does its inability to really grapple with race and privilege. As a white middle-class young woman, Tracy is afforded the benefit of the doubt, not to mention a second chance. If she’d been a woman of color, she might never have recovered from her year-long bender. In fact, the only people of color in the film are the guys that Tracy and Evie alternately hook up with, and buy drugs from, a setup that is particularly iffy in hindsight.

Overall, however, Thirteen holds up in a way that never would have seemed possible to Hardwicke or Reed at the time they wrote the script. The impact it has had over the last 15 years far exceeds its original reach. Hardwicke’s $3 payday went a long, long way.

“Literally the other day, a woman came up to me, she’s like 28 or 30, working at a cool company, Hardwicke recalled. “She goes: ‘You know what, I saw Thirteen,’ and it scared her straight. She never drank or smoked in her life, or did any drugs.”

“I don’t know if there will ever be anything quite like it,” Reed said. “It was kind of just magic.”

If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

‘Frozen 2’: Evan Rachel Wood, Sterling K. Brow…

Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown are in talks to lend their voices to Disney’s “Frozen 2,” the sequel to the 2013 smash hit.

Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, and Josh Gad are returning to reprise their roles as Elsa, Anna, and Olaf, respectively.

Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck will also be back to direct. Lee is writing the script, while Peter Del Vecho is producing the animated film.

“Frozen 2” is set to bow on Nov. 27, 2019.

“Frozen” generated nearly $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office and has become a merchandising juggernaut, breaking sales records on home video and at Disney’s stores. The musical won the Academy Award for best animated film in 2014.

The movie has also been adapted for the stage, becoming a Broadway hit and earning three Tony Award nominations this year.

Lee was recently named chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, following John Lasseter’s departure. She will split Lasseter’s duties with Pete Docter, who will oversee Pixar Animation Studios.

Both Wood and Brown are hot off the heels of their Emmy nominations, announced on Thursday morning. Wood is up for her work on HBO’s “Westworld,” and Brown is nominated for NBC’s “This Is Us” and Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Julie Taymor’s ‘Across the Universe’ Set for T…

Fathom Events has set Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe” has been set for a re-release on July 29, July 31 and Aug. 1 at more than 450 theaters.

Fathom, which is jointly owned by the AMC, Cinemark and Regal chains, made the announcement Monday and said the 2007 movie is being shown to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1968 — which served as the setting for the film and its 33 songs by The Beatles including “Hey Jude” and “All You Need Is Love.”

Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess star as Lucy and Jude, a couple whose love inspires them to become involved with the protests and counter-culture movement that dominated the cultural landscape in 1968.

“‘Across the Universe’ has developed an extraordinary following since its release in 2007,” Fathom Events VP of Studio Relations Tom Lucas said. “This theatrical re-release presents an amazing opportunity for those fans to see, hear and feel this revolutionary film in a very unique way on the big screen.”

Evan Rachel Wood endures hunger strike in prot…

‘Doing nothing’ wasn’t an option for Evan Rachel Wood.

The Westworld actress spent the weekend at the border between Texas and Mexico, helping families who have been separated as a result of President Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy for people caught coming into the United States illegally.

‘I felt like I had been kicked in the gut when I found out what was happening,’ she said in an emotional interview with ABC News on Sunday. ‘I don’t believe in families ripped apart; I just don’t.

The 30-year old added, ‘I don’t think it’s right and without a plan to reunite them – that’s completely unimaginable, and unthinkable and it’s wrong.’

She also signed-on to #BreakBreadNotFamilies, which is a 24-hour hunger strike and prayer chain that will last 24 days in honor of the 2,4000 children separated from their parents.

“It’s a small price to pay considering what families are going through,” she told People.  

Evan documented some of her journey on Instagram.


One picture shows her playing with a young boy at a shelter in McAllen, Texas with the caption: ‘Just hung out with some of the families at one of the shelters people are sent to while they are being processed or awaiting deportation. Played with the kids for hours. They were so sweet, insanely smart, and creative. They have obviously been thru a lot and need supplies and medicine.’ #EvanInTX.

In another photo she is seen carrying supplies inside a local store with a caption meant to inspire her 450,000 social media followers.


‘Certain organizations, like The Red Cross, have not been “given permission” to donate supplies. But you can.’ #EvanInTX.

Evan donated things like clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, shampoo, body soap, and diapers but she said the thing that seemed to mattered the most was showing these people that they were valued.

Amid the massive backlash to the separation policy, President Trump signed an executive order reversing his policy on Wednesday.

As of Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security maintain the U.S. government had reunited 522 migrant children who were separated from adults.

New CARPOOL KARAOKE Episodes with Jon Hamm, Ev…

New Carpool Karaoke episodes premiering on the Apple TV App starting at 4pm ET / 1pm PT on Friday, June 15 and Friday, June 22. Fans can enjoy these brand new episodes on the Apple TV App on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV for free – no subscription required.

Friday, June 15: Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner & Ed Helms, who are starring in the new movie Tag (the movie hits theaters 6/15!)

The leading men of Tag compare awkward fan stories between group covers of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “I Want It That Way.”

Friday, June 22: Evan Rachel Wood & James Marsden from HBO’s WESTWORLD (just in time for the season 2 finale on 6/24!)

The WESTWORLD stars trade their horses for wheels and perform “Loop,” a hilarious new version of “Shoop” rewritten for their characters.

Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez and Other Sta…

It’s a different day for Hollywood, and for our culture. From the time allegations of sexual misbehavior rained down on mogul Harvey Weinstein last October, this business and many others have been rocked by revelations and allegations, and by a sense that the time is long overdue to afford women equal respect and equal opportunities rather than treating them like commodities.

In this climate — with hashtags like #MeToo and organizations like Time’s Up working to affect real change — TheWrap convened seven television actresses to discuss what they’ve experienced in their careers, what they’ve seen in the last nine months and where they’d like things to go from here.

TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman and Beatrice Verhoeven asked the questions; Zazie Beetz from “Atlanta,” Alison Brie from “GLOW,” Rachel Brosnahan from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Claire Foy from “The Crown,” Gina Rodriguez from “Jane the Virgin,” Yara Shahidi from “black-ish” and “grown-ish” and Evan Rachel Wood from “Westworld” answered them.

What does it feel like for all of you at this particular moment in time, with everything that has happened over the last eight or nine months? Are you mindful of the politics going on around you in Hollywood and in the wider world?

ALISON BRIE Well, there’s no way to ignore what’s going on in our industry these days. That’s why I feel lucky and grateful to be working on a feminist show where we have female showrunners, so many women on the crew and six out of 10 of our directors are women.

That’s something about “GLOW” that I find really amazing and fascinating: We have a cast of 14 women in Season 1, 15 women in Season 2, of all shapes and sizes and ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. They’re interesting, in-depth characters. Their lives revolve around things other than men and being single.

I was talking yesterday with Gillian Jacobs from “Love” about how different it can be shooting a romantic scene when you’re working with a female director. You’re more involved with the way you’re being commodified on the show, which is helpful.

YARA SHAHIDI It’s extremely powerful and inspiring to turn on the TV and see Issa Rae on the show she created, to see Laverne Cox, to see all these women leading shows. Whether it’s cable or [broadcast] television, I feel like we are seeing a difference, and I think it’s partially because the audience is now expecting it. But we’re not nearly there yet.

We are seeing more shows — like Rachel’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — about female awakening.

RACHEL BROSNAHAN At its core, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is a story about a woman finding a voice that she didn’t know she had. And that becomes more and more relevant every single day. We’re seeing so many different groups of people in the country finding their voices.

It’s not something that I was necessarily aware of as we were making it, but it’s a huge gift to play this fully realized, completely three-dimensional, complicated, flawed woman.

SHAHIDI We’re definitely seeing more complex roles. It’s less about saying that a character has to be this beautiful, perfect role model who handles it all. If anything, it’s been about making them realer, more complex or more unique. So rather than saying this woman has to be the universal woman, we can deal in specificity. When we add that layer of detail, you can only gain when you’re talking about human complexity.

BRIE What’s great about what’s happening right now is that these stories for women are being told, and I feel like there’s no going back. If I read a script about a woman who can’t get a man, or two women fighting over a guy, I’m just so bored.

EVAN RACHEL WOOD I think everybody’s a little bored by that.

ZAZIE BEETZ For so many years, people were like, “Everybody can identify with a white man lead.” There wasn’t even a thought of, “Oh, someone can identify with a woman as well and not be a woman?” That’s insane.

Many of your shows now feel increasingly timely and resonant precisely because of what’s happening in Hollywood and in society.

WOOD We started “Westworld” before this movement happened, but when people say, “Oh, it’s so timely now, it’s crazy how synced-up it is,” we always say, “No, it’s timeless.” This has always been an issue, but we’re just paying more attention and listening in a different way now. So it seems more relevant.

And it was strange doing Season 2, because it’s all about the uprising and the reckoning, and the women — even though they’re not technically women, they’re machines — coming into their power and realizing who they are.

CLAIRE FOY I think it’s really interesting, the conversations that people are having. A year ago, would TheWrap be having an all-female cover talking about women being empowered? It’s because of a very few brave people got together and put themselves on the line. And then all of a sudden everybody came out of the woodwork and said, “I just realized I can stand up for myself.”

I have learned so much from other women about what they’ve experienced.

GINA RODRIGUEZ I’d love to jump in on that, because I think Time’s Up was created from the response from the American farmworkers — 700 women got together and wrote a letter to the women in Hollywood. This is such a difficult conversation because there’s no way we can encompass everything: This is hours and months and years and history and hundreds of years of domesticated mentalities.

But I believe that the culture for women, if we’re going to specifically speak about that all over the world, is a social norm. We created it and we can change it. But it would take a collective effort to do that.

WOOD We get pitted against each other sometimes, and I think what we’ve realized, which is part of the theme of today, is that we’re stronger together. It’s a slogan, but it’s also very true.

BROSNAHAN One of the coolest things about doing things like this is that we get to spend time together and know each other as peers, and that makes it easier to lift each other up and be each other’s champions and be on the same team. Because previously, there was usually room for one woman in a group of men.

Now, there has been a shift. I’ve been walking into a lot of rooms recently with both men and women where they’re saying, “Do you want to do other things? Do you want to write? Direct? Produce?” I’d never been asked that question before and I hadn’t thought about it much, but now I’m thinking about it and going, “Yeah, I do want to do all those things!”

RODRIGUEZ I produce my own projects because I really got tired of being told, “They don’t think you are this enough.” And I was like, “Who is they?” I need to be they. So I just made sure that I was the they so that I can tell them, “No, I don’t think that’s correct.”

As a young girl, I knew how affected I was by the lack of color on screen. I knew how much I gravitated towards the little bit that we did have that represented our culture. I understand that the lack of history of Latino culture in schools adds to dropout rates. I love that Claire plays one of the most important women in history, but there are so many more that we haven’t seen yet because people don’t even share it in schools. I’m all about doing my own stuff, making my own projects.

Claire, you were the subject of a real furor recently when it was revealed that you made less money than your co-star Matt Smith in the first season of “The Crown,” even though you had a bigger role. It came as a shock…

FOY It’s that unspoken thing. Actors don’t talk with each other about how much they are paid. But we all knew. And now something good has got to come out of all the shame and the embarrassment and the talking about my worth in comparison to one of my best friends.

WOOD I have never been paid the same as my male counterparts. I’m just now to the point where I’m getting paid the same as my male co-stars [on “Westworld”].

BROSNAHAN Really? I’m mad for you but also happy for you now that you’re there.

WOOD I was married to an actor for years and he always got paid more than me, and I actually worked more. And I was like, “I’ll just take what I can get, I’m just happy to be here.”

BROSNAHAN That’s a huge part of the equal-pay conversation, because women are brought up with this idea that there are 100 more of us who could step in at any given moment. So it’s hard to speak up for yourself, because you feel like you could lose it. And honestly in the past, you could.

RODRIGUEZ They do that to us from the start of our careers. Take our power away. I feel like that’s happened to me from the jump. “That’s fine, we have a bunch of people who could step right in.” You diminish someone’s self worth and it’s up to them to believe it or not. I’ve had that from the beginning.

BEETZ It’s about, are you being valued in the same way? Are they seeing you as an asset in the same way that they are seeing your counterpart?

FOY Our industry works on a quote system. You get a quote for one job and it will be used in your next job. It’s across the board, and it’s relatively fair in that sense.

The way it doesn’t work is because if there aren’t leads of people of different races or different genders, then they’re not going to be given the opportunity to ever get their quote up, because they will never be given that lead. And if they do get that lead and they don’t have the same quote as their counterparts because they haven’t had the opportunity before, then I genuinely believe it’s the responsibility of the people who are in charge of making those decisions to pay that person not according to their quote but according to what their part is. That is the only way it will ever make it right.

One of my friends is an Indian actress, and she’s never going to get a high enough quote because when has there been a lead part for an Indian actress? It just has to happen by someone making the decision. It has to be a directive, it has to be something that people just do. Because you want to be paid equally for the work that you do, and for your investment in that which will make a lot of other people very wealthy.

So it’s time to be outspoken and stand up for yourself.

FOY It’s not even about being outspoken. It’s just about saying, “These are the facts!”

RODRIGUEZ That’s what it is. It’s like, a woman does it and she’s being craaaaazy. A man does it, it’s logic. We gotta stop talking about it that way. It’s not about being outspoken, it’s about laying the truth down.

WOOD I’ve been working for 25 years, and the people with money are still men. You’re pitching projects about women to a room full of older white men with money who aren’t necessarily creative types. Those rooms need to change. They need to be more diverse and have more women, more people of color, more everything.

BROSNAHAN It’s hard when there’s one group at the top making all the decisions and controlling all the money. People in positions of power need to look like what the world looks like, so that the art we’re making reflects the world we live in and the world we aspire to live in.

Thandie Newton Reflects on Her ‘Punishing,’ St…

Thandie Newton is, perhaps, Westworld’s biggest fan.

The British actress, who has earned critical acclaim for roles in Beloved and Crash, plays Maeve, a host android who first appeared as a prostitute in a Western-themed park, has since gained self-awareness and is now on the hunt for her daughter, in Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s HBO sci-fi series, which is nearly halfway through its second season.

“Wasn’t Lisa Joy’s episode, episode four, just stunning? The stuff with Peter Mullan, I mean, what the f**k?” Newton gushes over the phone with ET. “It’s amazing. But anyway, we’re talking about episode five.” Yes, we were supposed to be talking about episode five – but more on that in a little bit.

Listening to the actress talk about the series – including episodes she’s not even in – feels like listening to Tony Robbins passionately plead for you to believe in your potential, except Newton is pleading for you to believe in Westworld, and isn’t afraid to use a few F-bombs to get her point across.

Newton, however, has no reason to plead. Her portrayal of Maeve has earned the actress the best reviews of her career, with nominations for Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG awards as well as a Critics’ Choice Television Award win for season one. Season two is proving to be no different. On the latest episode (titled “Akane No Mai”), she gives another award-worthy performance.  

Maeve’s journey to find her daughter brings her and her small group of hosts – including Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) – to Shogun World, where they’re introduced to their Japanese counterparts. When a ninja attack separates the group, Maeve discovers she can control the hosts, but soon learns that not everyone wants to accept the truth, and sometimes the script is better than reality.

For the episode, Nolan and Joy channeled the films of Akira Kurosawa as they essentially built Edo-era Japan in Northern California, where the show was filmed, complete with blooming cherry trees. “It was such a privilege and I loved every moment of it,” Newton says, before taking a beat for a moment of true honesty: “Oh, my God, though, learning Japanese was pretty tough.” The actress spent three weeks preparing for the episode, which was filmed mostly in Japanese, meeting with a language coach and receiving extra guidance from the episode’s guest stars, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi. “I swear to God, at first, I was horrified … but I wanted to embody it,” she recalls, undeterred.

“That’s something I think we’re going to be seeing in Westworld as it continues season after season, is how it just shines a gaze on a particular time in history, but also a particular filmmaker’s tradition of filmmaking,” Newton continues. “And it’s such a joyride for us as actors, and contributors, too, because more and more they’re opening up to allowing us to really collaborate with how we see our characters in these situations.”

The “punishing” episode stayed with Newton as much as it did her character, who becomes inspired by the bold acts of Kikuchi’s Akane (Maeve’s Shogun World counterpart) and her sacrifice after one of her geishas is murdered. “There’s Maeve desperately trying to escape, and Rinko’s decision not to believe that her story is fake. She’s so wedded to her story that it really informs Maeve in the subsequent episodes, which you’ll see,” Newton insists.

“It’s so much to do with nations and how we’re led and what we’re fed and the faith that we put in those who are in power, and it’s not just about leadership in terms of governments, leadership in terms of parents, leadership in terms of friendships, who we put our trust in, who we put our faith in,” Newton says of where Westworld continues from here. “It’s about self-awareness and self-determination. It’s really powerful.”

The episode also sees Maeve’s continuing journey with park engineer Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), who was taken hostage by the escaped android in the season two premiere. While nudity plays a large part in the show, especially for the female characters, Newton has not had to strip down so far in season two. However, Maeve does demand Lee disrobe, an act of defiance and shift in the balance of power that was previously held by the park’s creators, engineers and even guests. For viewers, it can also be seen as a balance of nudity among both sexes. Yet, for Newton, “there was no one upmanship at all,” she says.

In fact, the actress felt “huge compassion and sympathy” for Quarterman, who has less experience with onscreen nudity. “All these guys that have had to be naked are much more self-conscious about their bodies. I think my empathy only informs a greater empathy towards myself or other women or other people who find themselves in situations where they feel exposed,” she continues. “I wasn’t empowered so much as in awe of another human being, like me, who had been nude, who was being courageous enough to fulfill this moment in the narrative, which does have a really powerful impact.”

Offscreen, however, Newton has been more empowered. She, alongside co-star Evan Rachel Wood, recently earned equal pay with the show’s male actors for season three. “It’s huge!” Newton says of the move by HBO, but is quick to note that the decision has a lot to do with the recent conversations about the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. “Let’s face it, it’s not a new movement. It’s been going on since suffragettes,” she continues. “[But] for me it was just a relief to actually get to a point where I wasn’t having to ask and I wasn’t having to fight for what should be a rightful gift from someone who values and appreciates you.”

Newton, who has been a women’s rights activist for the last 20 years and has served on the board of V-Day, an organization fighting violence against women, for the last eight, says her new salary creates greater loyalty to HBO. “But I always had a loyalty to Lisa and Jonah [Nolan].”

Lisa Joy on Her ‘Westworld’ Directing Debut: ‘…

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” the fourth episode of the second season of “Westworld.”

As co-showrunner on the western thriller epic she also co-created with her husband Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy says there are parts of herself in every episode of “Westworld.” But she left her mark on the fourth episode of the second season, entitled “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” in a new way, stepping behind the camera to direct for the first time.

“I really wanted to play with different genres in this episode,” Joy tells Variety.

In the early scenes with James Delos (Peter Mullan) in his seemingly modern apartment, Joy was going for a “2001: A Space Odyssey” vibe — “this mysterious, futuristic environment that you feel somewhat displaced in,” she shares. But later on when Delos has had his own awakening and has “gone insane,” she took the same location and bathed it in red light for a completely new feeling.

“I wanted to take the same room that had been so sterile and antiseptic and safe and make it into this horror film,” Joy says. “I looked at a lot of Tchaikovsky films just in terms of how much set decoration and the slow movement of the camera could lead to a suspenseful theme — and the way the music interacts with things — to give a real sense of foreboding and horror while keeping it grounded in something emotional and real.”

Of course, Joy wanted to play in the show’s more traditional western genre, too — and she got her opportunity with William aka the Man in Black (Ed Harris).

“When the Man in Black is on the road, I wanted to make sure we were getting as much scope there as we could,” Joy says.

And when he was in a fight — a gun battle the show had shown him engage in before “in that very scene, sitting in that very chair, seeing how his quote-unquote loop within the game plays out and how easy it was for him to kind of cavalierly shoot a bunch of people,” Joy points out — she had an opportunity to depict the increased stakes of the western world.

“The whole place is this wild jungle where nothing is predetermined, and so for that in the gun battle, I didn’t want it to be easy, and I wanted us to feel that uncertainty and have it feel very visceral and immediate,” Joy says, adding she included a couple of Steadicam shots to keep the audience in the middle of the action, “literally over the man’s shoulder feeling the bullets whizzing by.”

Although Joy didn’t pen this particular script — those credits belong to Gina Atwater and Nolan — she says she was “creatively drawn to it” because she has wanted to look a little closer at William (played by Jimmi Simpson in the earlier timelines and Harris in present day) since the beginning of the show.

“In the first season he was the absolute villain and we painted that in a very stark light,” Joy says. “This season we’re playing with perception and loyalty — what happens to your perceived victim when the shoe is on the other foot? Is there any moment at which they cross a line and you lose sympathy for them? And what happens when you look at a villain and you keep looking closer and closer and closer at him, do you ever see any glimmers of light, any other sides to their character?”

“The Riddle of the Sphinx” dove into William’s backstory to connect some dots between the man he was when he first stepped foot in the park to the man he became.

Sitting with Delos, William shared a few nuggets of information about his family as time went on. But he also showed great patience and care for the experiment he was running to keep Delos alive as an android, testing out the capabilities of such artificial intelligence through simple discussions. As the episode revealed, William returned to Delos time and again, with many years in between, to play the control in Delos’ loop.

“By the time you see the second version of it, I think it starts to feel inevitable that you’re going to see something else happen,” Joy says. “I like playing with the inevitability of that and building the suspense — you can’t wait for the other shoe to drop to see how, when Ed comes in to play it, he’s going to play it differently. Part of the fun for me was the repetition in dialogue and even in the chair that they take [but] you get to see two actors look at characters from three different timelines and even though they’re saying very similar things and sitting in the same position, it’s the tiny gestures in performance — the tiny deviations in what they’re saying — that betray how their character is evolving over time.”

The episode also introduced William’s daughter as an adult who found her way into the theme park herself.

Joy chose to shoot her backlit by the sun so that she was shrouded in darkness as she had been shrouded in mystery since earlier references to and quick glimpse of her character. It was all about adding to the suspense.

“The man is rushing toward the horizon and he’s chasing his own demons in some ways, and then you see this figure and you can’t make out who they are. I wanted to be really ambiguous at first with whether it’s a man, whether it’s a woman, and that went into our costume choices even at the beginning of the season,” Joy explains.

William was far from the only character with whom Joy got to dive deeper, though. In addition to shooting the reveal of Elsie’s (Shannon Woodward) whereabouts, she explored the inner workings of Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) broken mind as his memories came to him in fragmented, non-linear pieces.

“It’s sort of like how Dolores had trouble sorting her [memories] in the first season so the interesting thing, for me, was to incorporate some visual tricks that would help mimic his condition with memory,” Joy says. “What I loved was the idea of having these macro shots where tiny flickers of memory were coming back to him — eyeballs were falling on the ground, why? The sound, the distortion, and not knowing what it connects to. And then of course he finds this lab and he’s wandering through it as he’s also trying to wander through his own mind and piece together what he saw.”

Joy calls the sequence in which Bernard observed his own memories play out in three-dimensions in front of him in the lab his “out of body experience.” Although she shares she worked very closely with Wright as well as her camera team on the day of shooting to capture the “uncanny” feeling of floating outside of one’s self, when she got into editing, she used music as a way to make it even more jarring for the audience.

“I wanted to feel a little bit like we were crawling outside of our skin,” she says.

Bernard watched the faceless androids commit acts of violence against the humans working in the lab and then against themselves, all from the center of a “giant room,” Joy points out. She wanted slow-motion shots to really capture the sense of him trying to take everything in and make sense of it. She also wanted his turns to see different memories on different sides of the room to be equally slow and methodical — and “like he was on a merry-go-round.”

“It’s this idea of loops that I tried to thread throughout the episode,” she says. “From the opening shot, Delos is in his own loop to the shot here where now we’re with Bernard and he’s turning around and taking in this room in this circular motion, but it’s almost like he’s a passenger in his own memory. And then he finally stops and realizes, with some horror, that he wasn’t just entirely passive, taking it in — that he actually had a decidedly active move in the violence that occurred there. So I wanted that step to feel like the loop is being broken — you weren’t just riding this wave, you were an active participant, so now reevaluate your own character, Bernard.”

The parallels between Delos’ loop and Bernard’s were ones that Joy further fleshed out with her use of mirrors throughout the episode, culminating in the moment the two men were in the same room.

“It wasn’t originally scripted for it to be this tender, almost emotional character moment between the two men, but as we were playing with the scene, I realized that there’s this really poetic intimacy to it,” Joy says. “Delos looking at Bernard and Bernard looking back at Delos, they’re looking at mirror images of each other — the devils and the angels that reside within both of them and the ways in which the path, depending on which steps you take, can indicate who in the final tally of your life you become.”

Joy shares that when she and Wright were working out his inner dilemma within the episode, they talked about how he has played Arnold and how he plays Bernard but maybe there’s “another persona he could be — someone heroic who’s trying to be born.” Joy notes that Bernard wants to be moral and good and he made such a plea to Elsie with sincerity, but after understanding what he did in the past, he will oscillate “between his ideals for who he should be and what he should do and who he’s been and the way he’s been controlled” and these inner conflicts will be “constant bursts of tension for him throughout the season.”

But while Bernard, like Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton), is trying to take control of his own life, Joy acknowledges that not all of the hosts can — or want to.

“They’re used to the way their lives were. They have a loop that some of them haven’t even begun to question, even though they could. And some of them understand that there were puppeteers controlling them — but just understanding the constraints of your life doesn’t mean you’re willing to break out of them,” Joy points out. “To me, there’s something very relatable to that, even for humans. How many of us have these demons or habits or things we don’t like about ourselves and understand the loops that we’re in and yet are unable to break out of them and create lasting change within ourselves? We can understand both our nature and our nurture, but understanding is only the first step.”

While the character work alone was enough to set Joy’s episode apart, she also had the privilege of being the first director to incorporate rain on the show — something she feels was really important to further set the tone for how unknown things still are for the characters.

“Just the idea that nature would intrude itself and that tempestuous storm — I think it gave a feeling of the chaos that was unleashed in the park, the wildness, and the idea that maybe there are forces here beyond our control for the humans and the hosts,” she says.