Louis Herthum was only in a handful of episodes in the first season of HBO’s sci-fi hit “Westworld,” but it was enough to leave a mark (and garner some Emmy buzz as well). His character, Peter Abernathy, was one of the first hosts that audiences saw experience a significant breakdown after finding a photo of a woman from outside the park. After he was retired, a whole lot went down inside Westworld that no one could have predicted, including the actors on the show.
Since his time as an animatronic rancher, Herthum has kept busy. His latest round of guest appearances include an episode of NBC’s “Chicago Med,” where he’ll fill the role of the much talked about Papa Halstead, father to the characters of Will Halstead and Jay Halstead on “Chicago P.D.” In the episode, Papa Halstead comes into the hospital with a medical condition and finally gets to see his son work.
“The character’s been talked about for a while,” says Herthum on Papa Halstead’s backstory. “He’s a hardass, and totally blue collar. He believes you go to work right after high school so doesn’t totally understand Will’s going to med school. But he also sees how hard Will has worked to bring them closer.”
His second guest appearance will be in the episode “Blurred Lines” on CBS’s “Training Day.” Playing a modern day gangster and criminal, his character is the father to James Paxton’s Bobby Hollister. And while working with the late Bill Paxton was a great experience, Herthum admits watching his episode may be a little difficult. “The ending is a poignant one, given the circumstances.”
Currently up in Winnipeg, Canada, shooting a feature length movie with Bella Thorne and Dermot Mulroney, we were able to catch up with Herthum to talk about his experience shooting “Westworld” and what he wants to see for Peter Abernathy in Season 2.
Congrats on being upped to a series regular for Season 2. Does this mean you know what’s going to happen?
No clue! That’s just the way the show operates. I don’t even think Jimmi Simpson had an idea that his character was the Man in Black until he was there shooting the scenes. As actors, we get sides for certain scenes and I happened to be on set the day they were shooting the scene between Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Ford (Anthony Hopkins) where Bernard finds out he’s an android. So of course I read all the sides that day and found out what was going on. It was exciting, but I had to sit on the information for two years!
That scene you had with Ford before you were retired was so great, and is now getting some award buzz. What was it like shooting that?
You know, I had done a version of that scene for my audition. I believe everyone did. And while I was preparing I learned the scene was going to be with the character played by Anthony Hopkins, and it was a little surreal. I was like .. Wow! The actual audition was fun because they had me read it a couple of different ways and do a few different characters; it was so cool!
And when you actually filmed it for the scene, did you have time to get into the story or do anything differently?
I did have some prep time before filming, but I try to stick to what’s in the script and do things the way the writers intended. I don’t do a whole lot of diving into a character’s backstory, because it’s usually all right there on the page, which is great. And you know, the show creators just built an incredible cast and have so much faith in the actors. There’s a real sense of collaboration on set.
So what’s up with Peter Abernathy in Season 2?
You know, he’s carrying around 35 years of data, so there’s actually very little space on his hard drive left. He only has a small semblance of a personality. So in the future, he may not even be Peter anymore, he could get wiped clean. They could make him this socially inept character, or it could turn out he’s been under the control of Charlotte and Sizemore, who knows?
Will he be out of the park or is he in the woods with the hosts?
I would love to see him out of the park, out in the real world… although who knows what’s real anymore! But you know, a lot of my scenes in Season 1 I was naked. So regardless of what happens I’ll probably be naked again!
Season 1 of “Westworld” is available to stream on HBO Now. Season 2 is expected to return in 2018.