The life and rise of 'Westworld' star Evan Rachel Wood, who was nominated for a Golden Globe as a teenager and has a deep connection to music and activism

John P. Johnson/HBO

Evan Rachel Wood has been a famous actress for half of her life.

Now 30, she first gained fame for her breakout leading role in 2003’s “Thirteen,” which snagged her a Golden Globe nomination.

After that film’s success, she continued to appear in smaller independent films. Toward the later 2000s, her roles made her more high-profile thanks to meaty stints in Oscar-nominated films including “The Wrestler” and “The Ides of March.”

Now, she’s one of the best actors on television, starring on HBO’s “Westworld” as Dolores Abernathy, a dangerous host with free will, and a primary anti-hero in the second season, airing now on HBO.

Wood is also an activist for women’s rights, an outspoken victim of sexual assault, and an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

Here’s how Wood’s career has blossomed over the past two decades:


Evan Rachel Wood was born September 7, 1987 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Getty ImagesPerfectly tailored pantsuits have become one of her signature looks.

Both of Wood’s parents are actors, and her father runs a local theatre company. Wood and her siblings would act in the productions at her father’s theatre as kids.

When Wood’s parents got divorced in the 90s, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother and began pursuing an acting career. She had a recurring role on “American Gothic,” “Profiler,” and “Once and Again,” and also had roles in TV movies.

Source: Biography


Wood’s TV roles led to parts in big movies including “Practical Magic” and “Digging to China.”

Warner BrosEvan Rachel Wood played Sally, the daughter of Sandra Bullock’s character in 1998’s ‘Practical Magic’

Wood has said that the 1998 film, “Digging to China,” which starred Kevin Bacon, was the project that made her realise she wanted to be an actress for the rest of her life.


In 2003, Wood starred in the film “Thirteen,” opposite Nikki Reed and Holly Hunter.

Fox Searchlight

“Thirteen” is about a thirteen-year-old girl who begins to experiment with drugs, sex, and crime. The film gained momentum after premiering at Sundance, and Wood was nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for best actress in a drama. The low-budget film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, was primarily shot with handheld cameras.

After the success of “Thirteen,” Wood continued to work on independent films including “The Upside of Anger” with Kevin Costner and Joan Allen, and “Pretty Persuasion,” which focused on themes of sexual harassment and discrimination in schools.


In 2005, she was the star of two music videos: one for Bright Eyes, and one for Green Day.

She appeared in the music video for “At the Bottom of Everything” by the Bright Eyes, and starred alongside British actor Jamie Bell in the video for Green Day hit, “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

Wood and Bell dated for a year in 2005. Years later, they got married and had a son together. They divorced in 2014 after 19 months of marriage.

Below, you can watch the video for “Wake Me Up When September Ends”:


“Across the Universe” (2007)

Columbia Pictures

In the later 2000s, Wood started to appear in more high-profile studio movies, including the 2006 film adaptation of the best-selling memoir “Running With Scissors,” which starred Alec Baldwin and Annette Bening.

In 2007, Wood starred as Lucy in “Across the Universe,” a romantic musical drama that used covers of songs by The Beatles. Although the movie received mixed reviews, it was nominated for a Golden Globe for best musical or comedy, and it was nominated for an Academy Award for costume design.

Wood sang on the soundtrack.


In 2007, Wood began dating musician Marilyn Manson.

Getty

Manson wrote the song “Heart-Shaped Glasses” about her. In 2010, the couple got engaged, but they ended the relationship months later.


“True Blood” (2008)

HBO

Wood played Sophie-Anne Leclerq, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, starting in the second season of HBO’s vampire series, “True Blood.”

She appeared in eight episodes as a recurring guest star in seasons two, three, and four.


“The Wrestler” (2008)

Fox Searchlight

Wood had a role alongside Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei in Darren Aronofksy’s 2008 film, “The Wrestler.” Wood played Stephanie, the estranged daughter of Rourke’s leading character. “The Wrestler” was nominated for two Oscars.


“Whatever Works” (2009)

Sony Pictures Classics

In 2009, Wood played the 21-year-old wife of Larry David’s character in Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works.”


“Mildred Pierce” (2011)

HBO

In 2011, Wood appeared in HBO’s miniseries “Mildred Pierce” opposite Kate Winslet, Melissa Leo, and Guy Pearce. Critics loved the series, which won several Emmys and a Golden Globe. Although she didn’t win, Wood was nominated for best supporting actress in a miniseries at both award shows.


“The Ides of March” (2011)

Columbia Pictures

Wood’s roles in films like “The Wrestler” led to more and more meaty roles in bigger films including the political drama, “The Ides of March.” She starred opposite an all-star cast including George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Gosling, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Wood played the role of Molly in the film. Molly has an affair with presidential candidate Mike Morris (Clooney), gets pregnant, and has an abortion. She has a romantic relationship with Stephen Meyers, played by Gosling.


In 2011, Wood came out as bisexual.

Getty Images

Wood is bisexual and has dated men and women, including “The L World” actress Katherine Moenning.

In a 2011 interview with Marie Claire, Wood said, “I can’t say I’m one way or the other because I’ve honestly fallen in love with a man and I’ve honestly fallen in love with a woman. I don’t know how you label that, it’s just how it is.”

Wood is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. In 2016, Wood took part in a Human Rights Campaign video in which she told stories about the lives of the victims of the shooting in Orlando, FL, which targeted LGBTQ+ people.

You can watch the video below:


“Westworld” (2016-)

HBO

In late 2016, the star-studded sci-fi series “Westworld” made its debut on HBO, and spawned tons of fan conspiracy theories.

Wood plays Dolores, a host (that’s “Westworld” for life-like robot), who’s starting to gain her own conscience and is trying to get out of the park to experience the real world.

In 2017, Wood was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama series. The second season is now airing on HBO.


Wood has been an advocate for victims of sexual assault.

House Judiciary Committee Hearings/YouTube

Wood, who has spoken about being a rape victim, has been critical of President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women.

In February 2018, Wood testified before Congress in a hearing about the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act.

Wood described in detail her experience with rape, domestic violence, and the PTSD she lived with in the decade following. She also revealed that she was hospitalized after attempting suicide twice, and has coped with addiction, depression, agoraphobia, and night terrors in the wake of her assaults.

During her five-minute statement, Wood introduced herself as an artist as well as a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor. She explained that she wanted to use her position of power and privilege to bring a “human voice” to the 25 million survivors in the US who “experience inequality under the law.”

“If you can’t hear the whole truth, you will never know true empathy,” Wood said. “And I believe in the saying, ‘If we have to live through it, you should have to hear it.'”


She also has a music career.

Getty Images

In addition to singing in projects including “Across the Universe” and “Mildred Pierce,” Wood is in a electro-pop a band called Rebel and a Basketcase, which she formed in 2016 with Zach Villa.

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