Teddy has always been one of Westworld's more stable characters, but in the fifth episode of Season 2, "Akane No Mai," that all changed when Dolores had him reprogrammed to better suit her robot rebellion needs. Poor, innocent Teddy, you don't deserve to be treated like that. Teddy has always been generally clueless — while the other hosts gain full consciousness, he's still acting according to his code — but as it turns out, so is the man who plays him. In a recent interview with Vulture, James Marsden revealed Westworld Season 2 details, and the actor admitted that much of the time, he has no clue what's going on. Phew! I thought it was just me.
Watching Westworld can sometimes seem like a futile task: Every time we get an answer to one of the show's zillion mysteries, we're left with even more questions. But according to Marsden, it's even more difficult to be an actor on Westworld, because creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan give the actors even less information before shooting. Imagine trying to get into your character's head when you have literally no information about your character's backstory, desires, or future goals (or if they'll even survive!).
Marsden explained to Vulture that his most challenging moments on the show involve scenes that he's totally clueless about:
There are moments Teddy’s haunted by in the first season when he’s talking about Wyatt. That was tricky. I didn’t have an f*cking clue who Wyatt was. Who is this guy and why am I now a Union soldier outfit? Jonah and Lisa were like, "It will make sense later." They were trying to be cryptic intentionally. It was difficult for me to assign meaning to it because I don’t know what I was really even talking about.
There's a lot to unpack here. Obviously, props to Marsden for doing an amazing job in what are clearly difficult circumstances. You totally seemed like you knew what you were talking about, dude. Fake it 'till you make it, right? Now that I know that Marsden himself has no idea what's going on in Westworld, I definitely feel better about my own fuzzy understanding of the Wyatt/Dolores thing. If he's on set every day and is still confused, then fans totally get a pass for having to read a recap or two after each episode ends.
Marsden compared the experience of being an actor on Westworld to being a viewer, in that the actors are also being manipulated (in a good way!) by the producers:
There’s moments on the show when you’re saying things and you, as an actor, don’t really have a clue what is going on. You’re intentionally off balance because that’s the way it’s supposed to feel when you see it ... Lisa and Jonah are great about making sure we know the necessary things. But when they want it to come out a little cloudy, they keep you in the clouds. So as the season progresses, there are revelations to us as well.
I repeat: Isn't it great to know fans aren't alone in this? I love imagining that Marsden also spends his Sunday nights poring through Reddit in an attempt to understand the episode.
Marsden may not know a lot about what's going on in Westworld, but luckily, he has Evan Rachel Wood by his side to help him out. Practically all of Teddy's scenes are with Dolores (although that may change now that he's been reprogrammed), so the two spend plenty of time together goofing off on set. Yeah, you read that right. When they aren't filming brutal death scenes or epic shootouts, the Westworld set is actually... fun.
Evan’s got a remarkably sharp sense of humor and everyone on the show likes to have a good time ... We have a lot of fun on set pretending the show is a musical, pretending it were a say a spinoff of a Ron Burgundy movie — it gets very, very silly on set.
I guess you have to keep things light in order to balance out all that White Hat/Black Hat darkness. Maybe the Westworld cast will get to put their off-camera musical skills to good use one day — Season 2 has been filled with interesting musical choices (like that "Seven Nation Army" sitar rendition), so why not let the cast help out?
Westworld airs at 9 p.m. ET Sundays on HBO.