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‘Westworld’ Star Evan Rachel Wood on How Playing an Assault Survivor ‘Felt Like an Exorcism’

”I’ve worked for a very long time to not be angry and vengeful,“ actress who plays Dolores on HBO’s sci-fi hit says

Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) went to hell and back in Season 1 of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s “Westworld.” An experience her real-life counterpart is all too familiar with.

On HBO’s sci-fi hit, Wood plays the oldest robot aka host in a Western theme park where visitors act out their dark fantasies on her kind. The role hit close to home for the actress, a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault herself, who says it was like an “exorcism” for her.

In an interview published Wednesday by the New York Times, Wood describes how the series “completely transformed [her] entire life.”

“[Dolores] journey mirrored so much of what I had been through and what I was going through,” she said. “It gave me a strength that I did not know I had.”

Back in February, Wood testified before Congress in support of the Survivor’s Bill of Rights, describing in detail how she was raped twice about a decade ago.

Wood — who wore a picture of Dolores in a locket around her neck during her appearance — said she would not have been able to open up to the House Judiciary Committee if it weren’t for the show.

“I hadn’t even cried about my experiences until after ‘Westworld,'” she said. Her defense mechanism was to go numb and power through. “And I didn’t even realize that until I’d done ‘Westworld.'”

After that, she says “it was like the floodgates opened. It just felt like an exorcism; it was so painful but so healing.”

In “Westworld”s upcoming Season 2, Wood’s character has achieved consciousness and begins her journey to exact revenge on the humans who run the park and have wronged her. This shift for Dolores was somewhat unsettling for the actress.

“I’ve worked for a very long time to not be angry and vengeful,” she said, “so it was hard to take pleasure in that, even though I knew that the character had definitely earned it.”

“Westworld” Season 2 premieres on April 22 at 9/8 c on HBO.