Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” Variety’s new podcast series featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front and behind the camera.
This week’s podcast includes Variety editor-at-large Michael Schneider and senior TV reporter Daniel Holloway in conversation with actress Thandie Newton, who stars in the new HBO series “Westworld.” Newton speaks frankly about becoming involved in the show, which began with a Skype meeting with creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy while breastfeeding her newborn child.
“My baby was like four months old, and I thought, ‘I mustn’t have that side of my life be present during this meeting, because it might put them off.’ These are just the things, as a woman, that you think about,” said Newton. “So I’ve set up the Skype, with perfect lighting and God knows what, and I was talking to [Nolan] and I heard my baby in the other room, and he just wanted to be fed, and that’s just a number one priority for me, so I said to [Nolan], ‘I’m sorry to cut this short’ but he said ‘Let’s just keep on talking.’ And so I ended up breast feeding on the Skype call.”
The series is based on the 1973 film of the same name by Michael Crichton, which takes place in fictitious Westworld, a Western-themed amusement park populated completely by robots known as “Hosts,” who begin to malfunction while serving the park’s high paying guests, known as “Newcomers.”
Newton went on to discuss some concerns that were made during the Skype meeting, including her nude scenes that would be featured in the series.
“If the nudity is going to be used in such a way as to make a statement about vulnerability … about exposure … about dignity — I want that,” said Newton. “This is the first time really for me that the nudity wasn’t salacious. It wasn’t being used in a way that I hadn’t been, you know, okay with.”
Newton also noted specific moments from the series that stood out to her, particularly the human traits the androids exhibit.
“The robots are so beautiful, and I don’t mean physically beautiful. I mean, just their serenity,” said Newton. “Even if they’re hideous and doing bad things … because that’s their storyline, to try and attract. The hosts are also trying to attract the humans to participate, because that’s going to make them come back. It’s like fast food — it’s going to make them back.”
New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday.
Listen to the full episode with Newton below.