Westworld is returning soon—and after that explosive (and frankly somewhat confusing) third-season finale, we have a lot of questions about what to expect from the sci-fi series’ next chapter. One of the most important parts of the Westworld puzzle has always been Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard—a robot “host” who spends a lot of his time trying to unravel what’s going on (and often, when it’s going on, too).
At a recent press event ahead of season four, io9 and other outlets got a chance to speak with Wright about what’s in store for Bernard. Without treading into spoiler territory, of course, the actor (who’s also in The Batman, What If, and No Time to Die, to name just a few of his credits) was able to explain a bit about why Bernard has sort of become the audience surrogate while navigating the show’s timey-wimey twists and turns.
“It’s arguable, because [Evan Rachel Wood’s character] Dolores has this insight too, but Bernard having been created to be an engineer, and the most technically savvy of the hosts, he’s the detective and also the fixer. So his role really as programmed has been to mine down into the unknown, into the mysteries and solve them—whether they be systemic or programmatic or whatever,” Wright told io9. “And so that kind of puts him, in some ways, as a bit of a window for the audience to explore the technology, and maybe not so much to explore the park, but certainly just explore the inner workings of Delos. Bernard was the guy who was kind of guiding us through that. And I think that kind of lends itself to this, you know, travel through multiple timelines and the like. He’s certainly not the only one [who pops up in different timelines], but he’s kind of the only one who’s traveling in this way with a flashlight, shining it into the corners of the rooms by the nature of his responsibilities as initially set out by his programming and his job at the park.”
Even though Wright plays one of the key characters on Westworld, he doesn’t necessarily know much more than the audience about what’s going to happen. In fact, he told the roundtable that he’s never seen an entire script for any given season at the start of filming. “It’s a very fluid process. They obviously have the overall arc for any season and, as I understand it, for the entire scope of the show. But at the beginning of any given season, not all the episodes have been written; one of the challenges to working on our show is that it’s just kind of ever-evolving, ever-growing, and morphing as we do it.”
As for Bernard in season four, “I didn’t have any idea of where we were going. I just knew how Bernard was going to be navigating through it and what kind of new updates to his system he had been given at the beginning—and that’s all I kind of needed to know,” he said. Then he added, “Unlike the first season, where I didn’t know anything at all when we shot the pilot. And then I came back to [Westworld co-creator] Lisa Joy’s office just prior to our beginning to film [the first season], [and] she told me Bernard’s secret—which was kind of important at that time for him, for me, to understand the relationship to Dolores. That was useful and it was kind of necessary, because otherwise certain things wouldn’t have made sense. Now I’m OK if they don’t make a little bit of sense because I’ve learned to trust the process. Trust the journey. And trust our writers led by Lisa and [Jonathan Nolan] and our collaborators. We’ve relaxed a little bit and we’ve kind of given in to the mystery.”
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Westworld returns for its eight-episode fourth season starting June 26 on HBO Max.
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