Jeffrey Wright: Bernard 'attained a type of liberation' on 'Westworld'

Jeffrey Wright discusses Sunday's episode of "Westworld." File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI
1 of 5 | Jeffrey Wright discusses Sunday's episode of "Westworld." File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Jeffrey Wright said Sunday's Westworld episode showed his character, Bernard, find freedom. This article contains spoilers for Westworld Season 4, Episode 7, "Metanoia."

"I'm not entirely sure the journey that his freedom led him on is the one that he expected," Wright, 56, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "Nonetheless, he's at least attained a type of liberation that I've found gratifying."


Westworld is a modern adaptation of the Michael Crichton film about a theme park with robot cowboys and outlaws. In the HBO drama, the robot hosts became sentient and broke free of the abusive theme park at the end of Season 2.

Bernard was the designer of the hosts, who also discovered that he was a host, too,. In Season 4, Bernard awoke from three years in a simulation with a plan to free humanity from technology.


With the help of former Westworld security chief Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and a group of desert rebels, Bernard dug up the body of escaped host Maeve (Thandiwe Newton). Wright said he was not aware that Season 4 co-star Daniel Wu had once auditioned for the role of Bernard.

In "Metanoia," Bernard and Maeve destroyed the servers at the Hoover Dam. However, the Man in Black (Ed Harris) shot Bernard in the forehead during his escape.

"He's embracing his own agency in a way that he couldn't in seasons before," Wright said. "Finally, this season he's freed himself to some extent."

Wright said that a different story in the episode disturbed him more than his own character's death. Season 4 introduced Christina, a new character for Evan Rachel Wood to play.

Wood played Dolores in Seasons 1 to 3, who sacrificed herself to prevent an artificial intelligence from gaining control of all humanity. In "Metanoia," Christina learned that she is an artificial intelligence created by Dolores.

"It just opened up my head in a really exciting way our show tends to do in terms of considering the state of things and our place in it," Wright said. "It just kind of freaked me out a little bit as I continued to consider the similarities between human and host."


Westworld explores how abusive humans can act toward hosts created for their amusement. It also questions whether hosts are any less human for being mechanical.

"She's in the world, and yet at the same time outside of it," Wright said. "[That] is one of the essential explorations of our show on the nature of this technology of artificial intelligence."

Wright said filming at the Hoover Dam impressed him, as well. Wright said he considered the dam a real-life feat of technology.

"It was this great American socialist investment that went on to be so supportive of so much life in this country," Wright said. "The engineering is just freakish and the foresight, it's just stunning."

Wright said "Metanoia" seems like the definitive ending for his character. However, Westworld shows there can always be a new copy of a host, and Wright would not rule out returning as a copy of Bernard.

Should he truly be finished with Westworld, Wright has no shortage of other work. He was part of the new Batman franchise as Lt. Gordon in The Batman.

There will be a Batman movie sequel, and an HBO Max series about The Penguin. Wright is not sure Gordon will be involved with the series.


"That remains to be seen," Wright said. "They're writing now and we shall see."

Wright did get to complete his role in the James Bond franchise with No Time to Die. He played James Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter previously in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Wright said that Felix had near misses with the films Skyfall and Spectre while they were in development.

"Barbara Broccoli will reach out and say, 'OK, just a heads up, looks like Felix is going to make an appearance in this one,'" Wright said. "And then she'll come back and say, 'Well, maybe things might change.'"

In his film and television career, Wright participated in franchises like Shaft and The Hunger Games, played real-life characters like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Colin Powell, and lent his voice to Pixar movies and podcasts.

"It keeps me flexible," Wright said of his diverse filmography. "I'm pretty fortunate in that I can place myself in a broad range of rooms. I've always tried not to repeat myself from gig to gig, from role to role."

Westworld Season 4 continues to air Sunday nights at 9 p.m.EDT on HBO.


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