After a buzzworthy guest role on “True Blood” and an Emmy-nominated supporting role in “Mildred Pierce,” Evan Rachel Wood finally gets the starring role in a HBO project with the new sci-fi/fantasy series “Westworld.” Premiering Sunday to sparkling reviews, “Westworld” is a reboot of the 1973 film about a futuristic playground where “newcomer” rich people immerse themselves in the wild, wild west among “hosts” of A.I. characters. Wood stars as Dolores Abernathy, a romantic Western girl with a devotion to her father and love for the “world” in which she lives.
Without spoiling for those who have yet to catch the premiere, there is much more than what meets the eye to her character. To the newcomers that visit Westworld, Dolores is a sweet, young Western girl, but to the corporation that built and operates her she represents the universal fear of the potential all A.I.s possess of finding their own institution and rebelling against their creators. Wood is both endearing when in character within the fictional world of her reality and haunting and chilling outside of it in the final moments of the episode, suggesting that the season will offer her plenty of opportunities to showcase her ability to play a somewhat dual performance.
“Westworld” is strongly positioned to contend at the upcoming Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes and SAG awards. As lead actress on the series, Wood will be front and center during the show’s campaigning and could well top critics’ lists as one of the best performances of the year. Her work in the premiere is already worthy of recognition and I expect her to beef up her resume in upcoming episodes.
Wood has flirted with awards recognition in the past in both film and television. Her breakthrough on the awards circuit came while she was still a teenager with her 2003 indie film “Thirteen” for which she garnered Satellite, Golden Globes and SAG nominations. Following that success, she had supporting roles in awards-contending films “The Wrestler” and “The Ides of March” as well as that Emmy-nominated turn in “Mildred Pierce.” Voters this year are likely to remember those noteworthy performances when casting their ballots for her this year.
Voters are also likely to recall her work as a villain in the second and third seasons of “True Blood.” Though not nominated by any major awards bodies, I’d argue that her portrayal of vampire queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq, particularly in the second season, should have gotten her Best Drama Guest Actress at the Emmys. Wood stole every scene she was in and for me it’s one of the standout performances series-wide for that show.
What did you think of Evan Rachel Wood’s performance in the series premiere? Do you think it’s likely to contend at upcoming awards? Let us know in the comments! And will “Westworld” be another Emmy player for HBO? Vote in our poll below, and then discuss all things TV in our forums.