Thandie Newton, the star of Westworld Season 3, tells Michele Manelis why she is an anarchist with an OBE
The tagline for Season 3 of Westworld is "Free Will isn't Free." Could you talk a little bit about how the conflict of free will is important to the storytelling and the message of the show?
Yeah, well I mean free will is not free. We are in the human world and the system allows everybody to be fed, everybody to have a job, everyone has a wage in this dystopian world. So within that environment, you are free, but on someone else's terms. Your freedom is dependent on you agreeing to a system, paying taxes to a system, and that's something that is really a question we could ask ourselves every day: how do you know when to stop paying taxes en masse? And what if we just stopped paying? It'd be chaos, obviously, but an interesting idea.
That is indeed a radical idea. Do you consider yourself a radical?
I suppose. I question authority and I encourage my children to question authority, not just for the sake of questioning it but I believe that all authority needs to be earned. It's not something that is just appointed or self-appointed, certainly. I think I am a bit of an anarchist, actually.
Well, you've done well - for an anarchist to receive an OBE from the Queen is quite something. What was your first reaction when you found out?
I felt so good about it and for my mother, especially. Honestly, to have come from Zimbabwe, worked her ass off and had pride in being British, her pride in being accepted, when she had grown up in a colonial environment. It was really honouring the incredible hard work of my family, who are British. And also the message and representation of British people as being this modern spectrum of rainbow ethnicities.
Your role is very physical – how do you keep up?
Yes, it's how I would imagine being in the military. So you have to keep yourself as primed and fit and prepared as you possibly can. I have a lot of physical stuff to do and it's great, although I am flabbergasted that at my age I am like an action hero. And this happens now and not in my 20s? Okay, fine, but it's like the complete reverse of what it should be.
How do you feel?
Well, I do feel like I am in my prime and I think the 40s are great, man. I like being in my 40s. It is a very demanding show, but it's worth it. I've worked just as hard for films or TV shows which were pieces of s***, things I don't even want to remember. But with Westworld, I am incredibly proud and to hear that some people feel that it adds genuine value to their lives, I am on a cloud.
What was it like filming in the WWII theme park, with Nazis?
To be honest, I don't love the kind of Nazi stereotype because I think it reduces the horror in a way. These were real people, like you and me. And as they say, all it takes for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing. So, I personally felt very disturbed by just being in that environment and seeing that flag in the square, which you see a bit in the trailer. I didn't feel any bit like, "Yeah! I am going to go kill those Nazis!" I felt appropriately disturbed.
What about robots in general? Would you be comfortable purchasing one as your housekeeper?
Oh, my goodness, no! What about human beings? We need to keep people employed!
If you could create your own Westworld theme park, what would it look like?
It would be all children. Just children. Perfect little beings. If I could spend all my time nurturing and caring for children, that would be a very happy place for me. What other kind of world? One in which there would be no factory farms. There would be smaller communities, people would know one another, be accountable for their actions. There would be transparency, true transparency, and maybe there would be no money. Yeah, no money! How about that? It'd be all about reciprocating skills for one another. Sounds achievable to me! But Ibiza, Spain is where I'm going to retire. That is my perfect world.
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