[This story contains major spoilers for the fourth episode of Westworld season four “Generation Loss.”]
When Aurora Perrineau graced Westworld’s season four premiere carpet in late June, she was the only one from the show’s newer cast in attendance to speak to the press.
In a way, the actress — who plays a character known as C and whose connection to one of the HBO show’s main storylines was revealed at the end of episode four — was a human spoiler, like her mum co-stars. But with her introduction in episode three and Sunday night’s reveal, more of Perrineau’s role is now in sharp(er) focus.
Living in a desert location among a group of human rebels staving off Charlotte’s (Tessa Thompson) new world order, C is looking for a way to find her father, Aaron Paul’s Caleb, and a supposed weapon that can be used against humankind’s new host overlords .
With the arrival of Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard and Luke Hemsworth’s Stubbs, C defies the fears of her desert family and skeptically follow’s the host and his human friend to a location where they unearth a weapon that can supposedly stop Charlotte. What — or really who — is lying under the dirt reveals C’s true identity and teases her potential role in what is now a literal battle for free will.
Perrineau spoke to The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s premiere and then again ahead of Sunday’s episode about joining the Westworld family, her character’s big twist and what’s next for the humans taking on Charlotte.
What was it like as an actor to step into the universe of Westworld where there’s this sort of Russian doll storytelling approach?
Honestly, it was a little easier than I thought for me because my character felt a little separated from all of those storylines, so I felt like I could get into it a little more and it come more from an emotional place as opposed to an analytical square. I think was really helpful for me. I felt bad for everyone else who was like, ‘OK, and this connects to that and this connects to that.” (Laughs)
How much did you know about your character’s real identity going into the show?
Nothing. I didn’t know anything. I got the scripts prior to each episode — you get it right before the episode and then you shoot it. So it was always a surprise. My first episode, I was like, ‘Oh, I get to work with Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth. That’s so fucking cool.’ It turned into like, ‘OK, cool, I don’t know who this girl is, but that’s fun.’ Then I got the script for four while we were shooting already and that was a big surprise. I had no idea. I called one of the producers and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, am I Aaron’s daughter?’
So your characterization of her was shaped beginning really in episode four.
Yes, for sure. I had an idea of what my own backstory was for myself that I had made up for three and then when I got the script for four, it reinvigorated things that I already felt in thought. But it also then gave me even more of a purpose to why I’m doing the things that I’m doing, which was super helpful for the rest of the season. It’s nice to know this is why you do these things, as opposed to just making a random guess.
Your character was obviously young when her father Caleb vanishes, and the way this episode ends, we see your present, but also the world that Charlotte has built. C is without her mother here. Are we going to get an explanation this season of why she’s not?
Yeah, in general, you’ll see what the whole situation is with all the rebels and why we’re all there and what’s transpired. You’ll see some backstory happening.
How much does she know about the fate of her father, especially in light of the shocking “weapon” — Maeve — they unearth.
I don’t think she knows anything. It’s kind of what she said to [Bernard]: nobody believes that there’s a thing out here and I don’t even know if I believe that there’s a weapon out there. I just know that I think my father is there and that’s my main goal. She didn’t know. She had heard these rumors, and they’d all heard these rumors. It’s like an urban legend of this thing that happened in this place. So I think for her, she was just going there to see if her dad was there. It’s a shock for her to see that the weapon is this woman that she maybe saw in her childhood and doesn’t really know like, ‘How is that a weapon? I think that’s probably what’s going on.’
This episode really embraced the Westworld storytelling style of playing with time through that Caleb reveal. Do you know when your character is in relation to the other storylines?
I honestly don’t even have an answer for you. That’s where I’m kept in the dark so that I don’t spoil things. (Laughs)
Your group of desert rebels is really the only vision so far of flesh and bone humanity we have in Charlotte’s new world. And the show is always exploring the theme of what it means to be human. How do you think the rebels will expand that this season?
There’s a throughline of the show, I think, which is this idea of free will. I think that our group is definitely people that are still in that mindset of free will and what that really means and that’s why they don’t want the control. You’ll continue to see that be their goal. That’s just representative of what the show has always been about, it’s just now a little bit different with what the free will is and who it’s for.
C meets Luke and Jeffrey’s characters first out of her group and despite that tense introduction, she’s the most trusting of them. What does that say about who your character has become in this new world?
When I read three, I hadn’t read four yet, so I think I was trusting but not as much. Once I read four, I was like, ‘OK, you do anything you can for love, right?’ We all do things that maybe are not the most sane, and I think that she has definitely kept a lot of who she was when she was a kid, which is she’s very tough. But at the end of the day, she’s got Bear-Bear and Bear-Bear needs the lights on. There is this part of her that’s still a child because she had to grow up so fast and I think that’s kind of why — I wouldn’t say she’s so open to what’s happening, but she really, really wants something. And I think when you really want something, you sometimes do things against your best judgment. I think that’s maybe where she’s at. Her crew doesn’t want this thing as much as she wants it.
When your character decided to trust Bernard, it was clearly a big deal as everyone else basically said, “We need to take them out immediately.” In general, you can’t always trust who you see or what you see and who is in control in this show. So does your character really trust him and how will he fit into their plans?
At this moment in time, it’s a thing of nobody trusts Bernard — I don’t even probably really trust Bernard. I just want something from him. So I think it’ll be interesting to see how that progresses with everybody in the rebel group, with him and myself.
I saw a group of you — Jeffrey, your fellow new cast members — taking a selfie on the carpet a couple weeks ago, which is very cute. I imagine you all bonded quite a bit. What was it like working with Jeffrey, working with other original cast members and the new crew?
He was so great to me and I felt like he was kind of my bestie on set. He definitely had my back, which was a nice thing when you’re coming on a show. I think he just knows everything so well. He just comes and knows what’s happening and he gets it done. You feel like you can follow the leader with him, which is nice. I think working with all the OG people — we’ll say it like that (Laughs) — was really amazing and they were all very welcoming. But having the newbie crew was nice because we bonded on the fact that none of us know anything, and we’re all like, ‘Is this OK? Are we doing this right? It was fun. Like a big, huge family.
Can we expect you to be working with cast members outside of the desert?
I definitely get to work with Jeffrey and Luke and that’s been amazing. Then my two others, obviously as you saw in the selfie, are like Daniel Wu and Morningstar Angeline. I think they’re just amazing. I had such a great time with them. We really bonded over just being so hot and being in the desert and me and Morningstar having to kiss when it’s 100 degrees out. We’re just so sweaty and disgusting and just being like, ‘Well, we’re just gonna go in,’ and now we’re best friends. I see her every time she comes to LA or if I’m in New Mexico. We get to have a really fun journey together in the show and I’m excited for people to see that.
Your group is, unlike the rest of the cast, working in a really dry outdoor location. It’s not that steel, cool set situation. What was it like being out in the elements?
I definitely expected the set situation (Laughs), but for me it at least really added to this madmax war dog situation where it’s like we’ve just been out here trying to be about this cause and fight this thing. I think it honestly helps that we were hot and sweating. You’re feeling really tough and you’re feeling hardened out there. Meanwhile, you’re just walking to your trailer after this. (Laughs) But you definitely get this idea of feeling like you’re really in it and experiencing maybe what it would be like to live in that way.
You also mentioned Morningstar, who plays C’s partner. The show loves to explore, including through Caleb and C’s familial relationship, how characters are forced to make choices and what’s at the core of their humanity. Will your two characters’ romantic relationship touch on that as well?
I don’t know if it explores that too much. When I first read, it was like, “OK, this does feel a little bit like that kind of relationship,” but I think as it goes on, we’re the yin and yang to each other. We both keep each other level-headed because I think we’re both a little bit ready to go at any time. I think that’s what makes them fun to be together. They have a very sweet relationship.
What are you most excited for viewers to see with C going forward and what can they expect for the rest of the season?
I think to see the progression of what she’s trying to get to and where she ends up and what she’s really fighting for. I’m most excited for them to see her humanity because I think when you’re watching it, you kind of wonder why she behaves a certain way. We’re going to go on a big, big adventure with her and I think it’s going to be a really fun one. I’m going to get to explore a lot of things that I haven’t explored in any other character before.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
Westworld airs new episodes Sundays on HBO.