For all the Westworld fans mourning the end of the first season and wondering what will happen when it returns in 2018, star Thandie Newton, a.k.a. brothel madam-turned freedom fighter “host” Maeve, is in the same boat.
“Am I coming back? That’s my answer to you,” Newton tells PEOPLE. “In a way I want to pose that question to the audience: Is Maeve coming back? Should she? Coming back, what does that mean? Where? When?”
What Newton does know is that playing the fan-loved character and being a part of the show has had a very positive effect on her interactions with fans.
“It’s been like feeling an awakening, just through this enjoyment of plot and character,” says Newton of the critical and fan reception to Westworld. “I know this because when people approach me in the street normally, they say ‘Can I have a selfie with you?’ Most of the time they don’t know my name. Whereas, ever since the first episode of Westworld, people approach me with confidence, none of that shamed looking at their phones as they mumble ‘You’re famous, aren’t you?’ They approach me with confidence, look me in the eye and it’s like they’re alive inside and their eyes are flashing, they’re confident and grateful. It’s just this incredible, positive, explosion of feeling for this person because she is fighting for liberation and for consciousness and for truth.”
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Newton says the positivity extends to conversations about the show’s nudity and sexual violence.
“I’ve had hardly any demeaning, misogynist comments on social media,” she says. “I’ve had next to nothing and that’s surprising because I’m nude 70 percent of the time, but it’s because the nudity is about vulnerability. Funnily enough, I think you’re more powerful if you’re completely nude.”
Newton admits that being naked on set “for days and days and days” was definitely challenging, but she fully embraced wearing her “birthday suit” for the sake of her character and its normalcy within the context of the show.
“I didn’t want to do any of the covering stuff up, no merkins, no nothing because it would be more time in the chair and I had a baby at home I wanted to get home to,” she explains. (Newton is mom to son Booker Jombe, 2, and daughters Nico, 12, and Ripley, 16). “So yeah, it was challenging but so, so worth it.”
So worth it that she’ll be coming back for season 2?
“I think this is it for me. I’m working on something else right now, that might give you a [hint],” Newton says coyly. “I’m not saying that’s the case but who knows? How long did I sign my contract for? Who knows! I don’t mean to be annoying and frustrating but the truth is, we don’t know. I do not know what’s in store but I have loved this ride. I have been the rider and I have been the steed and I have loved it with all my heart.”