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Westworld's Angela Sarafyan teases Clementine's fight for freedom

Contributed by
May 11, 2018

Life in Westworld hasn't been very kind to Sweetwater's Clementine Pennyfeather. As one of the park's original Hosts made by creator Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Arnold Weber (Jeffrey Wright), she's suffered whatever storyline they've given her, flirting with potential johns or playing piano at an investor's cocktail mixer.

In Season 1, Clementine was even unceremoniously decommissioned by Ford, only to be resuscitated by Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) for a Host-led revolt against the humans who'd used them for decades. We've only gotten little glimpses of Clementine so far in Westworld Season 2, once in the past and once in "Virtù e Fortuna" as a Host soldier who cold-clocks Bernard (Wright) into submission.

Both instances are tantalizing teases for audiences curious about what Clementine's "reawakening" has done to her agency. Is she a true believer in Dolores' war, or is she merely accepting orders from a new master? SYFY WIRE sat down with Clementine actress Angela Sarafyan to talk about what's to come as Westworld Season 2 progresses.

Clementine, Westworld

Credit: HBO

In Season 1, we watched Clementine suffer through a lot of ugly situations inside Westworld and Delos operations. As an actor, you must have given a lot of your trust to showrunners Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy hoping there's a payoff to the misery?

Yes, I trust them 100 percent. I never had that really in my life where I just knew I would not be steered wrong.

What were the early conversations you had with them so you could figure out how to play her?

With Jonah and Lisa both, we had some wonderful conversations in the beginning where we talked about some paintings, and poetry, and films. They were telling me there has been some evolution over time with Hosts. It started with this idea that the Hosts are a clean slate, and then it kept going about living in that time period as the character would, and my relationship to Maeve (Thandie Newton) and to the Saloon, and to the customers that would come in.

We did speak of how Clementine would search for love in each guy or girl that would come into the saloon. She would see the beauty in them, and so that was tragic about her because someone that isn't malicious was then a victim. She was used for other agendas.

Much has been said by the actors on Westworld that they don't get to know much outside of when the scripts come out. Was that the case for you, too?

The way they would work is you would get one script per prep, so you wouldn't get past the [current] episode. So, whatever information that's given, I was holding onto everything, waiting to see how that would come to fruition. And a lot of the time, I found that it wasn't about what we spoke, but what was written [in the script]. What was written would have a clue and then I would try to put them together, and then something would come of that. I didn't even know what was going to happen in the finale before [I read] that episode. It's really about a puzzle. You have some answers, some questions, and I love it because it's quite an existential world asking what is the point of humanity? What does the future look like?

All through Season 1, Clementine really doesn't have any agency until that finale when we see her with the other Hosts ready to kill the humans, and Ford.

I thought that was an interesting choice because that victim-hood was imminently turned in that moment when she found her strength. I think that is representative of us, [of] being a woman [and] finding our strength within any circumstance. And then this season, it's interesting.

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Let's talk about Season 2. Were there more conversations about Clementine's arc this season?

Well, I think what's wonderful about this season is that I get to explore different facets of Clementine. I couldn't imagine what Clementine's journey was actually going to be. She is a really wonderful archetype, which I don't want to reveal exactly what that is, but I love that I got to represent that goal and that element of these Hosts. I'm trying to think if I can say anything else. (Laughs)

How was it coming back for production when the show was such a big success?

Well, it was wonderful coming back because I got to see everyone that I work with. It was really nice to go back and to see these people and to know we created this together, and now we're going on this journey together again. But it was funny because, in Season 1, I was working with Thandie and had moments with Jeffery but not this season. However, that love binds us. I feel so fortunate to be a part of that because it's a rare thing when you're not driven by ego, and you're driven by great story and doing amazing work.

In terms of Clementine now having the ability to make her own choices, does she struggle with who she wants to be this season?

I think her mission is finding that freedom, and it's fighting to protect what is good. I think that is Clementine's mission throughout the season: to protect her kind. And so, she knows the difference between those two things, and there is an interesting mirroring to real life in her. You see characters like her in the world, and I think that they're tragic characters. And there's no measure of tragedy to Clementine.

Well, I think actually her tragedy happened, but now it's her opportunity to fight. I think that's where the hope is. I think ultimately that is her direction. She's no longer a victim, so that's a wonderful aspect to her.

Clementine and Maeve, Westworld

Credit: HBO

The show explores some complex themes of what it means to be human, choice, the role of technology in our lives, and so many other big, existential concepts. What have you found yourself chewing on, specifically?

I was really fascinated with what we are capable of as people. We are able to create, and I think we are able to really, really destroy what we have created.

I think the show in itself is a reflection of the world that we live in. And I'm fascinated with those prospects. When you think about Clementine as a character, why was she the victim? Why did this happen to her? Why were these things set up for her this way? You know sometimes people say, good brings more good and if you think positive thoughts, more positive things come about. So, what was in Clementine that brought her to this tragedy? I sometimes wonder about that, and I think that sometimes tragedy happens so that a breakthrough comes. And that's what happened with her.

Do you see any parts of Angela in Clementine?

I think Clementine is bigger than me. What they've done with her maybe has elements of a reflection of me in there, but I think she serves a bigger purpose that I have to find new ways of living up to. It's fun on a few different levels, but it's really fun to live with her. Every time they write something about her I think, "I'm so grateful for that, or I'm so grateful that this happened for her." I'm so happy all of those moments exist, and you get to spread your wings and live.

She's changed me as a person. Finding our strength, or being reminded that we're strong, has also lived with me in her process. A lot of times, it's the roles that pick me. They pick me because I have something to give them, and they have something to give me, so it's a relationship that we form. And that's the case here.

Read our Westworld recaps here.

Westworld airs Sundays at 9PM on HBO.