After his character was killed off in season 2, Marsden is back on the HBO series for season 4.
After Teddy Flood killed himself at the end of season 2, James Marsden finally makes his anticipated return to Westworld in the season 4 premiere. The actor and Evan Rachel Wood, who previously played Teddy’s love interest, Dolores, talk to ET about the character’s revival -- but stop short of calling him Teddy.
Although Marsden’s return to the HBO series was first revealed during his surprise visit to the ATX TV Festival at the beginning of June, how he appears on the show has remained a mystery -- until now.
[Warning: Spoilers for Westworld season 4, episode 1 written by co-creator Lisa Joy and William Bromell.]
Picking up after the events of season 3, when Dolores (Wood) and other hosts escaped Delos Park and infiltrated the real world, season 4 is a dark odyssey about the fate of sentient life on Earth, exploring what has happened since the lives of humans and hosts have seemingly blended together.
In the premiere, Wood is back. But this time she’s playing Christina, who, despite looking exactly like Dolores, whose memories were deleted at the end of season 3, “is a different character,” the actress says. “Dolores isn’t [alive].”
Instead, Wood is playing someone who’s “much more human, much more vulnerable, very nerdy,” she says, revealing that “this one really was starting from scratch.”
And during the first episode, audiences get a glimpse of Christina’s quote-unquote normal life as a writer in New York City, where she lives in an apartment with a roommate -- a new character played by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose bothered by recurring a nightmare -- and fends off unwanted calls from a man named Peter, who won’t stop bugging her.
As the episode unfolds, not everything is what it seems. First, Christina is bothered by Peter’s voicemail accusing her writing of ruining his life. Later, she finds herself having difficulty opening up during a blind date.
After an unsuccessful dinner, she returns home, where she is confronted by Peter, who accuses her of taking over his mind and writing him into “the game.” Before he can kill her, another mysterious man beats him up before they both disappear.
Peter eventually kills himself in front of Christina, accusing her of dictating the end of his life.
By the end of the episode, as composer Ramin Djawadi’s cover of Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games” plays in the background, Christina writes a new story pitch for work about a girl who is searching for something more in her life. While she doesn’t know what she’s looking for, she just knows she wants to fill a void in her life and hopes that whatever it is that she finds will bring her happiness.
As Christina finishes her pitch -- one that she hopes concludes with a happy ending -- the camera pans to reveal that a familiar face has been watching her this entire time. And that, of course, is Marsden.
But who is he exactly? “Is he Teddy? Who is he? Is he good? Is he bad? We don’t know,” Wood says, not wanting to confirm if the actor is indeed reprising his role as the host first introduced in season 1. (It’s worth remembering that after Teddy shot himself, Delores uploaded his memories to the Sublime.)
Wood jokes that the original pair -- Dolores and Teddy -- are Westworld’s version of Friends.
“It’s like Ross and Rachel. You just are, like, waiting so desperately for them to make it to their happy ending,” she says, before teasing that after “waiting many seasons,” audiences could finally see some happy resolution for the characters. “Fingers crossed!”
But it seems that Joy and Jonathan Nolan are playing the long game with Marsden’s reintroduction, especially considering they knew way back in season 2 that he would be returning.
“I knew I was gonna go away for a bit but I couldn’t tell anyone for a good couple of years,” the actor says now, revealing that “I knew I was going to go away at the end of the second second. I didn’t know for how long.”
However, when it comes to what's in store for his return, Marsden shrugs at the notion that Teddy and Delores might find their way back together.
“I will say this: I don’t think that they’ve had to figure out what they’re doing for season 4 and season 5 [because] they’ve had it all planned out from the beginning,” Marsden continues. “And it’s just beginning to unfold. And we’ll see what sort of relationships continue in different trajectories and which ones come back together.”
Westworld season 4 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.