Former child star fought bad romances and anti-LGBTQ prejudice before channeling her craziness into paranoid-android role – and rebooting her life It's raining something biblical in Nashville, coming down like vengeance between the roadway signs for chicken wings and Jesus and Donald Trump. When Wood first met with showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, she wasn't told much of what would happen to her character, but she was told a lot about the world in which it would happen and the existential questions Dolores would pose – both to herself and the viewers. Which means that today, wearing inconspicuous black in a town where she recently moved knowing almost no one, the single mom is currently the highest-ranked star on IMDb, even if she still might best be known for dating Marilyn Manson a decade ago.
And here, inside a farm-fresh joint called Butcher and Bee, at a table spread with pickled okra and fried chicken and kale, Evan Rachel Wood is questioning the nature of our reality, the cogs and wheels that have created this very scene, up to and possibly including the guy posted up at the bar who looks like an older Elvis, if Elvis were crazy tall and wearing vintage tweed."What if this is all bullshit? This is because Westworld has been, by most accounts, a breakout success.
In June, two days before the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, she woke up with "some weird premonitions, an aching in my heart to reach out to the LGBT community and share my story," which she did in a 19-minute video she posted online.
"The showrunners and HBO warned me, ' You know, your life's probably going to change after this,'" she says.
Strange advice to give someone who has been in the business for more than 20 years, but correct nonetheless.
But it's also safe to say that her sweet spot may be playing a character who is playing at being rosy and uncomplicated while actually being anything but.
Kind of like Wood herself, who had arrived at the restaurant slightly late, explaining it was her son's first day at a new preschool and she'd wanted to feed him and get him down for his nap, etc., etc., before waxing dark and philosophical in a rosy sort of way. I left so much in that first season and never looked back.""I have a soccer-mom car you can totally hang out in," she says as we leave the restaurant and she leads the way to a Toyota Highlander with a toddler car seat in back.
"I couldn't handle all the attention when I was younger, but I feel like I'm in a place where I'm not going to collapse under the pressure."Dolores, a heroine who seems poised to drop her damsel-in-distress trappings and be actually heroic (or as Wood puts it, "bad-ass"), is a different type of role for an actor whose career has largely trafficked in shock factor or subversiveness or both.
Forget the baby-blue eyes or the long-limbed gracefulness that seems very Old Hollywood and hearken instead back to 2003, when Wood's portrayal of a teenage terror in Thirteen led the better part of a generation to question whether it was a good idea to participate in the propagation of the human race."I met somebody that promised freedom and expression and no judgments," she says. I looked at my mother one day and said, ' Mom, I'm gonna get on this tour bus for eight months and see the world and have a crazy journey and find myself, and if people aren't OK with that, I'm sorry, but I can't live my life for other people.' "Turns out people weren't really OK with that, mostly because of the colossal mindfuck that was just looking at Wood and Manson together.But for Wood it was a learning experience of the highest order."I had my son, and that changed everything," she tells me. I just couldn't be what I was not." Since then, she's tried to find comfort in the gray areas, to feel at home floating in the middle of the spectrum rather than moored safely at either end."We are conditioned in certain ways, and it's a journey to break that conditioning, and I think that's been a lot of my journey, honestly."It also happens to be Dolores' journey, which means that the horror and chaos the character faces, the realizations she has, and the fight to escape her circumstances – which happens in her head as much as anywhere else – feel very much like Wood's.When a director once asked her to shed a single tear out of a single eye, Wood obliged.