Interviewing a star from one of the most popular and dissected television shows of all time is like a masterclass in information extraction. You want to know the secrets from the show. They know that you want to know. And both of you know that they have a contractual obligation to tell you precisely diddly-squat, spoiler-wise, but that you’re going to ask anyway.
Which brings us to James Marsden, the unfathomably handsome dude who plays gunslinger Teddy Flood in HBO‘s hit Sci-Fi / Western drama Westworld.
Right now, his character is at the centre of one of the most popular fan theories of the second season so far (more on that in a minute), so when offered the chance to ask him about it to his face, we had to take it.
In summary, we got this face:
So basically, the biggest theory for season two is that we’re watching at least two (if not more) versions of Bernard Lowe [Jeffrey Wright], the head of Delos‘ programming devision who also happens to be a host, a.k.a. a robot.
In season two’s premiere, we were presented with two different Bernards: there’s the Bernard waking up on the beach, disorientated and confused, and there’s the Bernard fleeing the murderous hosts with Delos board member Charlotte Hale [Tessa Thompson]. Pretty quickly, two different timelines were established, but flashes of other Bernards (the one speaking about dreams with Dolores [Evan Rachel Wood], and the one in the control room witnessing the massacre) means we could easily be looking at even more than that.
It led plenty of people to ask: what if it wasn’t just multiple timelines we were witnessing, but multiple Bernards as well? It’s a theory backed up by this shot from the trailer, which shows Charlotte in a room full of multiple Bernard hosts.
One of the splinter theories to this overarching theory is that one of these Bernards – specifically, the one washed up on the beach – is in fact Marsden’s Teddy, who has taken over the physical body of Bernard.
Backing this (fairly loose) theory is that the clothes Bernard is wearing on the beach resemble Teddy’s regular brown waistcoat / jacket situation.
The season premiere made a big deal out of showing us the robotic “brains”, so it stands to reason that a host’s brain could be implanted in another host’s body. It’s being called the B=T to Game of Thrones‘ R+L=J.
And remember in the ‘primer’, a.k.a. the “spoiler video” that turned out to be a massive Rickroll, we saw Bernard wake up in Teddy’s usual position on the train as it pulls into Sweetwater? (Yes, that spoiler video was a joke, but it also featured real footage. We shouldn’t ignore it.)
Now bearing in mind this theory is SUPER flimsy at best, and we’re still in the early stages of fleshing it out, we put it to Marsden while he was in Sydney – and got a very measured response in return.
“So Teddy is one version of three Bernards?” he said, repeating our own question back to us. “That’s out online right now?” He ever-so-casually shrugged. “I’ve not heard that.”
He changed tracks. “You can ask me whatever you want because I actually just don’t know,” he said, despite having finished filming the season which will answer this very question, one way or the other.
“And you can believe that or you can not believe that,” he said, turning to face the camera and addressing the wider world of theory-hungry fans. “That’s my poker face.”
The moment passed, and Marsden relaxed.
“That’s interesting,” he said, going back to the Teddy-as-Bernard theory. “I love it.”
It turns out that everyone around him is just trying to get their fan theories confirmed.
“I get texts from my publicist going, ‘Okay, THIS is what it is, and he’s his son, and this and that, Dolores is really blah’,” he said, shrugging. “And I’m like, maybe? I just really don’t know.”
Earlier, he revealed that while he may not be guessing the twist and turns this show is famous for, his co-star Wood – the person whom Marsden spends the most on-screen time with – was actually pretty damn successful in figuring out season one’s biggest twists.
“In the first season, Evan was always like, ‘Okay, this is what this means, I think I figured out this, and the Man in Black thing, and this and that’,” he says, “and I was like–.” He throws his hands up in the air. “I’m too dumb, I don’t know, I’m not even going to try and understand it, I’m just going to let the experience be what it is.”
He continued: “She was going, ‘Okay, I’ve got the next script, and maybe this means this,’ and I said, Evan, bless you, but you’re wrong. The showrunners are so smart about being subversive, as soon as you think you’ve got it, they subvert and go the other way. They’re just going to pull the rug out from under you. And she actually got a fair bit of the big ones correct, before we even got the last three episodes.”
Wood correctly guessed that her tormentor, the Man in Black [played by Ed Harris] was the future realisation of her romantic interest William [Jimmi Simpson], as well as figuring out the true identity of the mysterious, violent Wyatt.
“A couple episodes before the finale, she goes, “Am I Wyatt?” Marsden continued (she was). “So she was on it. I just sort of put my foot in my mouth and eat my words there a little bit, and she was like, ‘Told you I got it right’.”
You can catch Westworld Season 2 at the same time as the US every Monday from 11am AEST by streaming it on Foxtel Now or by watching it on the showcase channel.Image: HBO