Evan Rachel Wood: 6 of Her Best Roles Before ‘Westworld’

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in Westworld

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in Westworld | HBO

With Game of Thrones quickly reaching its conclusion, HBO has pinned its hopes on Westworld being its next big hit. The series — based on the 1973 film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton — has continued to gain momentum over the course of its first season, sparking off a billion theories about its many ongoing mysteries. All signs point to Westworld developing into the word-of-mouth monster hit that HBO had hoped for, leading the network to recently renew the series for a second season.

Certainly, a big part of the show’s success is owed to its gifted ensemble cast. Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, and Jeffrey Wright are among the many main cast members on the show, but it’s Evan Rachel Wood who may serve as the real breakout star among the bunch. The actress stars as Dolores Abernathy, the oldest of the androids (aka “hosts”) to still be working in the titular Western-themed amusement park.

While she has yet to develop what many may call a signature role, Wood has been a longtime presence in films and television. From 1999 to 2002, she appeared as a main cast member on the ABC drama Once and Again, but since Wood is perhaps better known for her film work, let’s take a closer look at some of her best-known credits.

1. Thirteen (2003)

This harrowing drama about teenage rebellion marked Wood’s breakthrough role, gaining tons of critical praise and awards attention for its frank portrayal of a young girl’s entrance into tumultuous adolescence. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), the film sees Wood fearlessly take on the role of Tracy, a conflicted honors student who falls into the world of drugs and underage sex when she meets Evie (co-star Nikki Reed). Wood ultimately earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role and saw her career blossom soon thereafter as a result.

2. The Missing (2003)

This Ron Howard-directed Western thriller stars Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett as an estranged father and daughter who reluctantly team up to locate the latter’s eldest child (Wood) after an abduction. Though Wood doesn’t take center stage in this one, she offers effective support as the character upon whom the entire production hinges. Despite mixed reviews and a disappointing domestic box office take of $27 million, The Missing remains a high point in Wood’s career, released mere months after Thirteen.

3. Across the Universe (2007)

This ambitious musical from director Julie Taymor (Frida) uses the music of The Beatles to tell the story of a group of young adults trying to find their way through the politically divided era of the 1960s. Jim Sturgess headlines the film as Jude, but it’s perhaps Wood’s Lucy Carrigan that really steals the film. From her poignant performance to her lovely vocal performances, Wood is the perfect fit for the role, bringing both a hopeful optimism and a much-needed sense of vulnerability to the female lead.

4. The Wrestler (2008)

Mickey Rourke nearly won an Academy Award for his performance as a washed-up professional wrestler launching a comeback in this Darren Aronofsky drama. Wood stars as his daughter, who is more than a little hesitant to accept her father back into her life. The film hinges not only on Rourke’s Randy Robinson and his efforts to lead a normal life upon retiring from wrestling, but also his hope to repair his relationship with his daughter. As such, Wood anchors many of the more personal scenes in the film.

5. Whatever Works (2009)

Most actors can only dream of working with as iconic of a filmmaker as Woody Allen, but Wood got her chance in this comedy starring Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm). The actress plays a mysterious Southern girl who enters the life of David’s character, only to turn it upside down. Bringing all the charm she can muster to the role, Wood is an undeniable highlight. The film’s script may have divided critics, but they were united in their praise of Wood’s performance as well as that of her co-star Patricia Clarkson.

6. The Ides of March (2011)

George Clooney directed and stars in this political thriller, in which Ryan Gosling plays a campaign manager for a presidential candidate (Clooney). Wood plays Molly Stearns, an intern in the same campaign and love interest to Gosling’s Stephen Meyers. While the part could have easily been a thankless one, the actress finds a way to elevate it every step of the way, allowing her to hold her own against two of Hollywood’s most charismatic leading men.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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