HBO shows are known for their nudity and violence, but it isn't always just to entice viewers. Unlike Game of Thrones, the nudity in Westworld is of great importance to the story, and without it what happens to the Hosts wouldn't be as horrifying.
That said, it's still an important decision for any actor to appear nude on screen, especially when it's as often as Thandie Newton's character Maeve, who - along with Rachel Wood's Dolores - probably has the most nude scenes out of everyone on the show. I asked the star why it was so important to her to appear nude in those scenes when we spoke about the Westworld season 2 (opens in new tab):
"Doing it naked was really empowering actually because I knew that it was of critical importance to the character and how we view that person, as a piece of meat, because it’s like a factory farm down in the tech world, as they’re dumped on the ground and hosed down with blood everywhere...
So my nudity, I think was an opportunity to remind the audience that a body is sacred, and a body can be in pain if you cut it and it bleeds."
Newton reveals that she was offered the option of having a body double for the part, but turned it down: "They did offer body doubles quite often, but I didn’t want someone else doing it because they would’ve done it differently to the way I wanted to do it, because body doubles aren’t always actors.
"I was a dancer too, for a long time, so I know that I can suggest things with my posture and my body - even things like holding the bird and knowing that it’s going to cover certain parts of my body - and I can do it in such a way so that it’s not gratuitous, because I have a sense of what my body can do. It was dance really, it was mime."
In fact, Newton felt more uncomfortable wearing Maeve's saloon costume than any of the nude scenes she did. "I was more uncomfortable wearing that saloon outfit with my tits up here and this ruffly skirt inviting," she explains. "I felt ashamed - not ashamed of myself - I felt ashamed of what it was creating, the energy in the room was changing to something which made me… which weakened me."
Suffice to say that the decision to appear nude (or not) can be extremely powerful for both the actor and the story, and Westworld wouldn't be the same without it.
Westworld season 2 premieres on April 22 on HBO in the US and a day later on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK, and you can read about the 13 things we found out about the second season (opens in new tab) when we interviewed the cast here.