13 March 2020
Turns out, Charlotte is the real buried gun in Westworld
The outlaws might have guns in Westworld, but corporate sharpshooter Charlotte Hale is one of the most dangerous players in the sci-fi series (S3 is now streaming on Showmax).
When Charlotte Hale arrives at the labs behind the scenes of the theme park, she makes one hell of an entrance. Tessa Thompson’s character is the executive director of Delos Destinations. It’s not just her job to keep the rich clients happy at Westworld, she’s there to keep profits up and the products (i.e. the host) squeaky clean.
Character analysis: Charlotte Hale
We first meet Charlotte in Season 1 Episode 6, and as Tessa explains, her character comes in kicking and screaming. “I had a lot of conversations with the show creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan about Charlotte, her coming in and changing the energy.”
“There’s something lyrical about the show, with these esoteric, serious moments between Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Dr Ford (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and Lisa and Jon wanted something that came in and felt like it stood to threaten what we understood tonally about the show.”
Shooting down the hotshots
When Charlotte arrives, she immediately cuts Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) down to size. Lee is the narrative director; he writes the stories in the theme park that the robotic hosts act out for the super-rich guests. Whether it’s the siege by Escaton or hiring a working girl from brothel madam Maeve (Thandie Newton), Lee has invented the story.
“Lee is a foul-mouthed, crude and altogether grating character who lusts after Charlotte when she arrives,” says Simon. She finds him drunk and urinating in a public guest space, which immediately sends her mind into attack mode. And sorry for Lee, he’s got no say – she’s higher in the Delos hierarchy and makes him feel as insignificant as he really is. Not that he knows who she is when he swears at her, makes lewd comments and tells her that he wants to have his way with her. Wait ’til you see Lee’s face when he goes up to meet the “corporate heavyweight” who’s at Delos Inc building, only to find that it’s Charlotte, the woman he’s just flashed.
Charlotte has even more influence and control at Delos than she lets on. And it’s not just in terms of how the Westworld park is marketed and run, which narratives do and don’t make the cut. She’s also got a say in Ford and Bernard experimentations with artificial intelligence.
“I wanted to get out of these ideas about power and what it looks like. Conversations with Lisa were cool because one of the fantastic things about working in science fiction and speculative fiction and anything that deals with the future is that you get to decide what that future looks like,” says the 36-year-old actress. She’s not talking just the physical attributes of the hosts, but how the stories play out in Sweetwater.
Do the good guys always win? They don’t have to. Does sweet rancher’s daughter Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) always have to be the smiling welcome wagon? Not at all. If anything, Charlotte and Dolores are more connected than ever going into Season 3.
Playing this character has been special to Tessa on a personal level too because for years sci-fi was a white man’s place. “How cool is it in this world, that there is this young woman of colour at the very head – or one of the few people at the very head – of this company and no one has to talk about it? It’s never addressed in the narrative and that is inspiring, that anyone can achieve their goals if they want it.”
**** spoiler ****
Making her move
Season 1 ends with a shocker because Charlotte has a hidden agenda – and it’s got something to do with sharing data outside of the park. That’s basically corporate espionage because she’s betraying the people she works with when she changes co-ordinates in the data stream. She also makes sure that Bernard doesn’t live to tell a soul and she kills him… kind of.
While there’s a bit of a lull during season 2 for Charlotte, it ends with an impossible revelation, which even Tessa couldn’t have dreamt up. “The demise of Charlotte Hale has been on my mind since I started playing her, because there is enough villainy in her that I know certainly the characters in the narrative would want me dead. And in the audience. I’ve been thinking about the delicious ways in which Hale could die. But this is what’s so fun about working on Westworld: I could never have imagined that it would be at my own hands… in a way.”
What is she talking about? Start watching Westworld S3 on Showmax to find out; new episodes weekly, express from the US.