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HBO’s programming is notorious for its nudity and bigger shows like Westworld and Game of Thrones require some of its actors and actresses to sign nudity clauses (as well as have hired sex coordinators). This is true for Tessa Thompson, who plays the multi-faceted Charlotte Hale on the sci-fi series. Only signing that clause actually helped her to learn a major detail about her Westworld character early on.
In fact, Tessa Thompson says that Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan keep the plot points on the series under wraps. But she came to know two things about her character heading in mostly due to questions asked about a nudity clause. She explained the whole story during a recent Actors on Actors interview with Ramy Youssef over at Variety, noting how she gleaned more about Charlotte Hale before the early seasons shot.
I didn’t know anything about where my character would go. I had broad ideas, which were like: What does power look like in the future, what could power look like on a woman, what could power look like on a woman of color? So, I loved those ideas. But the only thing I knew was that I would potentially have sex with a robot and I knew I was human.
Before signing the nudity contract, she was super into playing the character; however, she wanted to know what context the nudity would be in. This is sort of similar to Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones, who expressed being fine doing nudity while playing Dany later in the show's run, at least given a context like walking out of fire. However, what really ended up happening is that Westworld’s creative team gave her some spoilers on her character, revealing she’d be human and would be having sex with some of the hosts in the parks.
The only way I knew that was – and I dunno if this has changed – but at the time on HBO you had to sign like a nudity waver if you were going to be on certain shows. Because the chances are you could get naked. Typically, I know when I’m gonna get naked, who with, so I sort of picked their brain. I was like, ‘I’m fine to explore nudity, but I’d like to know in what context.’ So we talked about this potential that you’d see this woman sort of sampling the merchandise in the park and that would be her expression of power… I continue not to know where the show’s gonna take me.
Of course, if you watched Westworld through Season 3 – and spoilers will be in this paragraph – Charlotte Hale does not always remain a human. A host version is created of the character and is occupied by a host that turns out to be a clone of Dolores. By the end of Season 3 that host is finding her own path, but the original Charlotte Hale’s family is killed and her body is naked once more onscreen as the host version of herself is heavily burnt in the accident that Hale's partner and young son.
Unlike a show like Spartacus, Westworld’s nudity is rarely gratuitous and even when it is over-the-top it’s typically to show what lengths humans are willing to go to with the hosts in the parks and what levels of excess those humans have fallen into. Still, HBO has a nudity clause to cover all and any of that.