Westworld star Aurora Perrineau discusses her big season 4 character reveal
Westworld (TV series)
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Westworld season 4, episode 4, "Generation Loss."
C, the mysterious woman on Westworld played by Prodigal Son star Aurora Perrineau, has a more familiar name to viewers.
It's Frankie, as in the grown-up version of Caleb's (Aaron Paul) daughter. Season 4 is going back to the early days of the show by playing with timelines, and the fourth episodes revealed a major chronological shift for the characters involved.
Perrineau thought she had a small role when she joined the HBO sci-fi drama, but was just happy to be a part of it. Then she got the script for episode 4, and her perception changed. "I thought it was really cool when I got the reveal later on," she tells EW.
Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) mentioned a seven-year time jump after the events of the season 3 finale, but the Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) storyline was unfolding much later — an additional 23 years after the time jump, according to Chalores (Tessa Thompson). In their attempt to escape the 1920s Delos park, even after Caleb got one of those mind-controlling flies implanted in his brain, he and Maeve both died. Except Caleb was brought back by Chalores, presumably as a robot. And it's only over the course of 23 years that she's been testing him for fidelity.
In the present, Chalores has infected just about everyone in New York — the same city Evan Rachel Wood's Christina calls home — and is controlling them through musical tones generated by the giant tower spotted in the distance. It took her generations to do this, as she first infected the adults and waited for the chemical to perfect its purpose in the brains of their children. Adult Frankie (Perrineau) is now part of a group, which includes Daniel Wu's character, trying to save everyone. Bernard leads Frankie to the weapon she heard about in the desert, and it turns out to be Maeve.
EW sat down with Perrineau to unpack all this.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was this always in the back of your mind when you first came into Westworld?
AURORA PERRINEAU: No. When I first came in, I was like, I'm doing a really tiny part and probably won't get to work with anybody. I didn't know that I was going to be working with Jeffrey or Luke until I got the official script, the first one. I was like, I will do anything on this show. I'll march through the back of a shot. I don't care. So I thought it was really cool when I got the reveal later on.
So it's a situation where you're getting the scripts for each episode as you're going along. It's not all up front.
No, nothing all up front. It's also not like someone calls you and goes, "Hey, just letting you know this thing's going to come." It's more like, "Here's a script, you're shooting it in a week,"and then you read it and you call someone. You're like, "Is this for real?" They're like, "Yeah, it's for real."
Up until this point, we'd only heard your character referred to as C. Do you know where the name C came from?
I know now. I did not know then. But I think that will all be revealed later.
Was there any characteristic that you pulled from little Frankie [played by Celeste Clark] once you found out about the connection?
I actually do feel like we have a lot of similarities when I watched it recently, a lot of similar facial things. Neither of us knew that we were playing each other. So she was shooting episode 1 and 2 and I was shooting episode 3 and I had just thought she was a very cute little girl that was in the show. It just worked out in a way. I think they did a really good job casting her and it felt similar.
In hindsight, do you feel there are obvious parallels between the two Frankies?
Yes, but it's interesting when you read the script versus when you watch the show. The way it's edited, things get moved. There was something that was in episode 1 that then wasn't in episode 1 when I went to the premiere, but then it was in episode 3 and I was like, "Oh, interesting." So even though you have this script and you shoot it and they do it, they're so clever in the way that they throw things around.
I feel like it was a very strategic move for the showrunners to not give you this information up front. Do you feel like you would've approached the character differently if you knew that backstory?
Maybe, but the really great thing was that I only didn't know for one episode. In episode 3, I didn't know exactly why I was doing the things I was doing. I made up a reason for it that ended up not being correct, but the reason still ended up working in that kind of situation with Stubbs and Bernard. And then by episode 4 I knew, and then the rest of the season I knew. So it ended up being okay and not one where you're like, "Oh no! I would've done all these things so differently."
What backstory did you make up for this character before you knew?
I never reveal my secrets. Then they don't work. They don't work when you try to do it for something else.
We find out in this episode that the weapon Frankie has been looking for is actually Maeve. There are so many implications for this. Maeve will presumably be working alongside the daughter of Caleb, this person she had such an emotional connection with. What are the big implications for you?
At that time it was more just C is there to find this one thing and she was there to find her dad. There is a disappointment when he's not there because you kept hearing this, and that would've given her closure. Then there's also this confusion of recognizing this woman, maybe not 100 percent knowing why she recognized her, because obviously she came to the house when Frankie was very little and that's the last time she sees her dad. So there's confusion, there's anger, there's sadness, there's all these things. I don't even know if she's thinking what's next. It's more, "This is not the information I thought I was going to get today, and how do I move on from that?"
I also want to ask about Daniel Wu's character. We see both of you butting heads. Can you tell us a bit about these two characters' relationship?
There's actually a very fun adventure that it'll go on in the season, and you'll find out more about the two of them and why they are in the situation they're in. When you're close to people and you're living in the desert with all these people, you're going to get under each other's skin, and when you're fighting for this cause. There's always going to be tension, but clearly there's a common goal. I think there's fun to be had with that between the two of them throughout the season.
When I think of Frankie on the show up to this point, it's that image of her as a girl with the little gun, shooting all these cans. Now as an adult, you have actual machinery. Is it fair to assume that you're going to get in on a lot of the action moving forward?
I get in on a good amount of action. It's a really fun character. She gets to do a lot of fun stuff.
We're at the halfway mark and it seems like the entire game has changed. We know what's going on with the city and the tower. What are you most excited for viewers to see for the back half of this season?
I think every character gets to go on a journey that is not really expected. I think we're going to learn a lot about characters that you guys already knew about — and then these new characters that we have introduced. I think that'll be really fun for people to watch: where everyone ends up by the end of this.
I don't know what kind of car it is that you drive, but this like desert dune buggy thing looks so cool. Did you get to pilot that?
I had a stunt driver, but I did get to pilot. It actually looks really cool. It's really hard to drive. It's kind of just slow because it is a car that they then built this armor on top of just for the show, which is so amazing that they even could do that. But when you're driving, you're like, "I can't really see. I've got to kind of turn my head to hear." It doesn't look like I'm so badass driving this car. You're kind of like, "Oh, I can't really drive this." Doesn't go over a certain mileage, like miles per hour. And it's just kind of a hilarious to drive.
It's just for show.
It's kind of for show, and for me making Jeffrey and Luke laugh by being told I can't drive somewhere and then driving really fast and trying to do it. And they're like, "You can't go over the speed limit. So go ahead." You can try to break away from that with your castmates; it's not going to work.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's ambitious sci-fi thriller is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name.