Where the hell is Stubbs?
Fans have been asking that since the end of Westworld’s first season, when Ashley Stubbs, Delos’ Head of Security, was attacked by Hosts in the Westworld park. His fate wasn’t revealed by the closing credits, leaving audiences to wonder if he too was a victim of the Host uprising.
With the reveal of Stubbs very much alive in Season 2 trailers, we can all exhale and now focus on how his character is going to function in the story this season. When we sat down with Aussie actor Luke Hemsworth (brother of Chris and Liam) to talk about what’s to come, he let it be known he was infinitely grateful for the concern fans expressed for his character in the hiatus, and that Stubb’s arc is worthy of the executioner’s reprieve.
Nice to see that you, and Stubbs, are still with us.
Luke Hemsworth: Yes, if you don't see someone die [on Westworld] then do they really die? And then, on this show, does anyone really die, either? (Laughs)
Stubbs works for Delos, which is a company we’ve learned is lacking a moral compass. Does that apply to your character as well then?
I think we tried to explore where his allegiances lie. I think that was always a fun thing to ask, who is he reporting to? And what is this Delos thing? The M.O. of the show is that all of that information comes very slowly. You're constantly evolving and finding out things along the way, which may or may not change what you thought of Stubbs or the other characters.
Because he’s treating the hosts with disregard, do you see Stubbs’ actions as villainous in any way, or is he just a guy executing the job?
Yeah, I never approached him as villainous at all. I always thought he came from a military-type background, or something like that, and was used to getting the job done. And he is quite emotionally removed from dealing with the ins and outs. There was a great moment I remember when we were cutting the hand in the first season. I was like, "This is really gross!" And they were like, "We need to use that." So, there is a moment when I'm like, "Fuh huh!" And that's real, and it's part of Stubbs. I think that was a good tool to inform him. I think it was always about bringing the humanity to it, you know? 'Cause a lot of the humans in this park are pretty horrible.
At the end of Season 1, Stubbs basically gets bum-rushed by the Warrior Hosts, and then there's no resolution to his outcome on-screen. Behind-the-scenes did Jonah and Lisa let you know that Stubbs was safe and returning, or did you have to wait a little while before you found out?
I'm sure I got a call from Lisa saying, "Don't worry, you're coming back. It's all good." Also, we shot some other stuff too, which explained what happened afterward, which never made it anywhere.
So it’s no spoiler to say Stubbs is back in the premiere essentially trying to decipher the mystery of what went down in the parks. He’s working on that with his boss, Head of Operations, Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård). Tell me about how that creates a path for him this season.
Yeah. I actually feel like Stubbs is probably a little bit behind. I was trying to work out how much does Stubbs actually know? I think that's something that's explored, but I think it's still ambiguous. I like to think that he knows a lot more than he lets on. And this thing about Strand being in charge, well, we don't know. Is he?
Once your character gets a chance to see the repercussions of how Delos operates, does that change Stubbs’ own view of his place of employment?
I think so, for sure. I think he probably has more empathy. Not just towards the other humans, but he starts to understand the Hosts a little bit better. It's like an awakening. So, it's an awakening for the Hosts, but the humans are going, "Well, hang on a second. Maybe, they are human." All those boundaries are being blurred.
This season you work with Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard more. How was that for Stubbs, and you as an actor?
Yeah. It's so good. There was a great, human connection because Stubbs doesn't know [about Bernard], at that point. So, you see little tidbits of humanity. And I love Jeffrey. He's beautiful. I laugh a lot with him. He's great. And I just love those moments in Diagnostics, when it's one-on-one and Evan's there. I think they're a master class in acting and filmmaking. They're just sublime. Every little tick, every little breath. It's very, very good.
What character has a big influence on your arc this year?
Strand. We go head-to-head a fair bit, which is awesome. Head-to-head, as a Skarsgård and a Hemsworth as well. I love him. Actually, they're like a little ray of sunshine. Fares (Fares), Gustof, and Betty Gabriel as well. She's fantastic. We became the dynamic foursome. We spent a lot of time together and did a lot of cool stuff. We did some sightseeing together in Utah while we were there. It was cool.
What was your toughest scene to execute this season?
There was a moment when I got permission to go and shoot for three days on another film, in the middle of shooting. And, of course, I had to leave on a Thursday, shoot Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and be back on [Westworld] Monday. But, there was a blackout in Atlanta, and the flight was canceled.
It was midnight on that Sunday night that I got a call from Jonah saying, "Oh, this is a heads up, this is what we're doing tomorrow." And there was this monologue. It was serendipitous because I was awake, 'cause I missed the flight. If I hadn't been, I would've been asleep and I wouldn't have been able to learn it. And it was a [production] day when there was like 400 actors on set. I was probably three or four hours late, but I got there. And it ended up being great. I think without having so much preparation, you're just ready. You just be prepared and fluid. You go where you need to go.
Where in Season 2 should we be on the lookout for any major Stubbs moment?
I think the end of the season is really cool. Stubbs is a bit of a sleeper. (Laughs)