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How Westworld’s Delores remains a source of strength for Evan Rachel Wood

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Apr 4, 2018, 7:28 PM EDT (Updated)

According to Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood, "Everything you want is on the other side of fear."

Wood is certainly fearless in her portrayal of Delores, an artificial life form on HBO's breakout sci-fi hit. In a new interview with The New York Times, Wood talks about how playing the character gave her strength in real life too: "Her journey mirrored so much of what I had been through and what I was going through. It gave me a strength that I did not know I had."

In the fictional theme park of Westworld, the lifelike robots are almost always the subjects of violence and sexual abuse. Delores is a character who has undergone several extreme cycles of this, and Wood's portrayal of her gradual self-awareness over the course of the first season was magnificent to watch. It was also an unfortunate instance of art imitating real life.

According to the interview, Wood is a two-time survivor of sexual violence herself, and just as Delores found the strength to fight against the system, Wood has as well. She recently testified before congress about sexual assault, endorsing the Survivor's Bill of Rights. She admits that she "shook for days" beforehand, and adds, "I couldn't even believe I was about to say these words aloud, that I probably have only said out loud to three people.

"Being abused and raped previously made it easier for me to be raped again, not the other way around," she says. Enduring "depression, addiction, agoraphobia, and night terrors," Wood says that the assaults left her "with a mental scar that I feel every day."

While openly testifying about all of this, she was wearing a locket around her neck that had a picture of Delores inside of it.

The newly-free Delores can be seen shooting any and all park guests in trailers for Westworld's second season, but while Delores answers the violence that she has experienced with violence, Wood makes it clear that she doesn't necessarily enjoy that part of filming. "I've worked for a very long time to not be angry and vengeful," she says, "so it was hard to take pleasure in that, even though I knew that the character had definitely earned it."

"My life is definitely going places I did not foresee," she said, "But I'm going with it. It doesn't feel like a choice at this point. This is just what I need to do." Going back to the strength she found from doing the show, Wood says, "I hadn't even cried about my experiences until after Westworld, and I didn't even realize that until I'd done Westworld."

Referring to her testimony and the locket she wore, she says, "Whenever I had a moment of self-doubt, I remembered— this is a part of me."

(via The New York Times)