Why Yes, the Westworld Cast Has Concerns About Data Privacy After Working on Season 4

Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and more reveal how the prescient series has affected their own perspectives

Westworld Season 4 Cast Interviews

HBO’s Westworld is set in a seemingly far-off future, one where a disaster at a high-tech theme park ends up having massive society-wide repercussions. The third season of the series focused on one-time “host” Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) attempting to bring down a malevolent artificial intelligence that’s using peoples’ personal data to determine the course of their entire lives, and Season 4 takes place in the aftermath of that struggle, in a world which thinks itself free of technology’s control… perhaps quite foolishly.

In essence, like all stories about the future, it’s really about the present. Specifically our present-day relationship with the technology that helps us and connects us every day… but with its own costs.

Speaking with Consequence during a recent virtual press event, the cast and executive producer Lisa Joy seemed overwhelmingly conscious of the show’s haunting relevance to today: As star Jeffrey Wright says, “You look at anything from Bernard working in a laboratory meat factory last season, or these stories now about female robot companions that are just being developed. Welcome to Westworld, except it’s outside your door.”

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While the show was laying the groundwork for its current status quo in its first season, all the way back in 2016, things have evolved since then, and Joy points out that a lot of the issues the show addresses this season have a direct connection to side effects of the pandemic.

“In our isolation and quarantine, we’ve had to rely on technology and social media to really get us through, and there is a sort of parasitic effect that can have on the mind, you know? It’s become very divisive. It’s harder to tell real news from fiction and propaganda,” Joy says. “For younger kids who are growing up with these influences, I think it can really affect confidence and world view and self-view. And it can cause, to me, great damage to people psychologically. It’s kind of like a synthetic virus that has spread during the spread of coronavirus, that has attacked our collective psyches.”

Key to the Westworld narrative is the fact that visitors to the Delos theme parks, we learn over the course of the series, had their brains scanned during their stay, and the data accumulated from this is immensely valuable to the society-dominating A.I. at the center of Season 3.

And Delos may have even done it legally. Luke Hemsworth, who plays former Delos head of security/host Ashley Stubbs, notes that being a cast member on this show hasn’t changed his attitude when it comes to telling the typical internet user’s most common lie: I have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions.

“I’d like to think that I’m more careful, but no. Has anyone ever read those? They’re, like, 50 pages long,” he says. “It is eye-opening, though. Obviously one thing this show is doing is showing that our data and our personal lives are a commodity. We are being mined, constantly. But, it’s tough to separate yourself from that world. We’re entrenched in it so deeply, and maybe that’s why they got us by the hooks.”

Westworld Season 4 Cast Interviews
Westworld (HBO)

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