Plus: The actress says HBO's 'Westworld' provides 'purpose'
Evan Rachel Wood is opening up about painful experiences from her past.
During a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the Westworld star admitted she has suffered “physical, psychological [and] sexual” abuse, though she didn’t offer further details. Then, in an email separate from their interview she sent the reporter the day after the U.S. presidential election, Wood revealed she has been sexually assaulted twice.
“Yes,” she wrote. “I’ve been raped. By a significant other while we were together. And on a separate occasion, by the owner of a bar.”
“I don’t believe we live in a time where people can stay silent any longer,” she added. “Not given the state our world is in with its blatant bigotry and sexism.”
Wood, 29, explained she believes her vulnerability was tied to her sexuality: The actress, who says she realized at age 4 or 5 that she was attracted to women, came out publicly as bisexual in 2011 and has referred to herself as gender-fluid. “It was always talked about like a phase or something stupid, or something you were doing for attention,” she said. “You know, bisexuality is worthy of eye rolls. And I didn’t realize how damaging that was until I tried to have healthy relationships as an adult and realized that there was still all this shame and conditioning and stigma around my sexuality that was really affecting the way I related to people.”
“I think I was taken advantage of because someone knew there was something about me that they could exploit,” she continued.
Wood said coming out publicly has helped, though she believes that she would have been more fully embraced by the LGBT community if she’d come out as a lesbian. According to her, though, what helped the most was the 2013 birth of her son, whom she shares with ex-husband Jamie Bell. “I had my son, and that changed everything,” she said. “It got me out of my own s—. I just couldn’t be what I was not.”
Since then, Wood said she’s tried to feel comfortable floating in the middle of the spectrum rather than positioning herself at either end. “We are conditioned in certain ways, and it’s a journey to break that conditioning,” she said. “And I think that’s been a lot of my journey, honestly.”
Wood, who has previously defended the controversial sexual violence depicted in HBO’s sci-fi drama Westworld, spoke out again about some of the criticism the show has faced — and how she handles playing Dolores, a character who is abused and brutalized. “The thing about Westworld is we don’t actually show any act of rape,” she said.
But that’s not to say it isn’t the obvious fate of many female characters on the show, or that Wood doesn’t understand the criticism. “It’s the initial knee-jerk reaction — which I totally get because it is a problem and valid,” she said. “You know, I was affected by things being written off as locker-room talk — I had a very, very visceral reaction to it. But the show is definitely a commentary on that.”
“I mean, your demons never fully leave,” Wood continued. “But when you’re using them to create something else, it almost gives them a purpose and feels like none of it was in vain. I think that’s how I make peace with it. Westworld? Good God. I left so much in that first season and never looked back.”
Westworld airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on HBO.
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