“She’s smarter and stronger than her guests, but doesn’t quite know it,” says Angela Sarafyan, who plays Clementine Pennyfeather, a saloon prostitute on HBO’s “Westworld” show about artificial humans who inhabit a futuristic theme park designed to immerse guests in an Old West experience.
For some guests, part of the appeal of the park is that there are no limits to what they can do to the artificial humans called “hosts” — murder and rape are not discouraged.
And yet as the series has progressed, viewers have seen a change in Clemintine and her co-hosts, some have become aware of their potential and the dynamic, especially for female characters, has begun to shift.
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“Sure she is a sex toy,” says Sarafyan, “but I do also believe that in a western she could be considered more of a working woman than just a prostitute. In the wild west they were respected as people — they were considered so much more than the girl next door gone bad.”
In “Westworld” Clementine isn’t innocent, but she uses her looks and street smarts to her advantage — and becomes more and more powerful along the way.
“Clementine celebrates being a woman, beauty and sensuality,” says Sarafyan. “I’ve always tried to celebrate my accomplishments or things that I’ve created — so the character is very different from who I am as a person.”
Like other women on the show, who at first seemed to be damsels in distress, Clementine turns out to become something much more.
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“There’s so much in her as a woman beyond her looks,” says Sarafyan.
The actress believes that “Westworld” is so much more than a simple cable show.
“It’s a microcosm of who we really are and who we think we are,” she says.
Sarafyan’s study material for the part included films about artificial intelligence like “Ex-Machina” and “Her” she says.
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“I think these movies, and ‘Westworld’ are close reflections to the direction that we’re going in — I’m not saying we’ll reach the kind of technology that `Westworld’ is portraying so fast — but I don’t think we’re that far off. The big question in the show is `do the hosts have the ability to be empathetic’ and the answer is, maybe they can be.”