Westworld’s Aurora Perrineau on That Huge Episode 4 Twist

Aurora Perrineau on Westworld

Aurora Perrineau as C on Westworld.
Photo: John Johnson/HBO

Did you watch that jaw-dropping episode of Westworld last night? HBO Max’s sci-fi series proved that, even in its fourth season, it still has the ability to yank the rug out from under its viewers. io9 got a chance to talk to Aurora Perrineau (Truth or Dare), whose character was at the center of the big reveal.

Just in case you haven’t watched last night’s episode, “Generation Lost”…

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So basically: you find out that Perrineau’s character, C—a member of a group of human resistance fighters who crosses paths with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth)—is actually the grown-up version of Frankie, the daughter of Caleb (Aaron Paul). We knew that Frankie and her mother escaped assassination when Caleb went to help Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) battle Hale (Tessa Thompson), but we didn’t know until “Generation Lost” that a) Caleb didn’t survive, and is now a Host under Hale’s control, and b) the storyline with Bernard, Stubbs, and C takes place more than 20 years after the Caleb-Maeve-Hale showdown. In the episode, Bernard—who knows everything about every timeline, and therefore knows C’s true identity—guides C to uncover a “weapon” in the desert: Maeve’s body.

That was some good, old-fashioned Westworld mindfuckery, was it not? Incredibly, Perrineau—whose character first appeared in episode three, “Années Folles”—didn’t realize who she was really playing until the very last minute. “I got the script for that episode, I think a week before we shot that episode,” she told io9 over video chat. “We were getting the scripts as we were filming, and so I didn’t know when I was filming the first episode what I was doing.”

Naturally, coming aboard Westworld meant being sworn to secrecy. “It’s a standard that you sign things that are like, ‘please don’t talk about it, don’t spoil things.’ But what you shouldn’t do normally in any show is tell people huge plot points,” she said. She definitely had to dodge questions from friends and family, though. “There isn’t a lot of ‘do you work with this person or this person or this person?’ And ‘what does this mean?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’”

All the secrecy meant that Perrineau and the actor who plays young Frankie, Celeste Clark, didn’t get a chance to compare notes about the character. “Neither of us knew that we were playing each other, so she’d already shot [episodes] one and two and I was doing three. And when I got to four, they were like, ‘Oh, by the way, this is your mini-me.’”

In the young Frankie scenes, we see how Caleb taps into his military training—and his own experiences tangling with hostile Hosts—to train his daughter to be a survivor, and how loving and supportive he is as a parent. Though Caleb vanished from her life when she was very young, Perrineau thinks he continued to have a strong influence on how C lived her life after that point. “Her respect for him and admiration and love is probably the reason she is where she is and doing what she’s doing,” she said. “I think the core of everyone is that love is the thing that pushes you to do everything, and I think her love for her father, and wanting to know the truth of what really happened to him, is her main objective. Even when she’s looking for this weapon, it’s really because she’s looking for him. I think her whole goal is just to know what happened to him, because she loves him.”

So far, we haven’t really gotten much insight into how the humans who’ve resisted coming under Host control live their day-to-day lives. Perrineau obviously couldn’t say how much we’ll get to see in the coming weeks, but she did have a few hints. “They’re hot all the time. They’re really hot,” she joked, since so far we’ve only seen C and her fellow humans scurrying around what sure feels like a post-apocalyptic desert. “But I think you adjust to everything. And I think that their day-to-day is just trying to figure out the best way to, you know, save what they believe humanity is. That’s a never-ending, never-sleeping, being kind of always go, go, go thing. Surviving is their main goal right now.”

Though C is the main human we’ve spent time with in Bernard’s storyline, a few others are also present, notably C’s fellow rebels J (Into the Badlands’ Daniel Wu) and a woman played by Outer Range’s Morningstar Angeline. J and C butt heads when deciding what to do with Bernard and Stubbs, and Angeline’s character steps between them before sharing a tender moment with C. “You’ll see more of [C and J’s] relationship as the season goes on. And I think there’s a lot of love between them. But I also think where there’s love like a family, you kind of fight like a family, and that’s what you’re seeing with both of them—they’re very headstrong and they believe what they believe. And clearly at that moment in time, they’re not agreeing on the same thing, but I think they want the same thing. At the end of the day, it’s just he thinks his way is better and she thinks her way is better.”

As for Angeline’s character, all Perrineau would say is, “You’ll see more of their relationship together. And I think that they have a very cool story that gets told.” She was similarly—and understandably—vague when asked if she thinks there’s an overarching theme for Westworld season four. “I think there is. I think people will see that themselves. For as far as what I can say about my character and the group that I’m with and all that, I think that it’s kind of similar to what the show is always about: the throughline of what free will really means. For these people, free will is what they’re still trying to hold on to. But I think that the show has a bigger message that we’ll all find out.”

Westworld drops new episodes Sundays on HBO Max.

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