Westworld's Leonardo Nam: "I feel like a global citizen"

by Gabriel Lerman March 14, 2017
Actor Leonardo Nam

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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes, Westworld was one of the best new shows of 2016. Lucky for us, it will come back early next year, and while we wait, we can rewind and examine some of the amazing characters that perhaps didn't receive as much attention (and screen time) as Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris or Anthony Hopkins. Certainly, Felix Lutz, the technician who helps Maeve (Newton) to escape, is one of them. The actor who portrayed him, Leonardo Nam, is experiencing a big change in his career, because even if his part was small, he was intriguing as a character who may be motivated by love, fear or some ulterior motive we haven't yet discovered. The fact that Nam was born in Argentina from South Korean parents, grew up in Australia and moved to the US when we has 19 leaving behind his studies in Architecture, only makes this young actor more alluring. Here is what he told us when we spoke to him.

How has Westworld changed your career? 

Being part of a huge project like this was amazing.  It is the role of a lifetime. I think that now when people see me and see the work that I have done, they take me differently, they take me from a different point of view, because to see how huge and how amazing this project is, and to know that I have been a part of that, I think has really changed my career.  And I am hoping for more, but I am very grateful for where this is.  Everywhere I go now, people come up to me and their eyes light up when they talk about Westworld.  I have been in other projects where people say, oh I know you from Fast and Furious or that, but now, it kind of seems surreal, like grownup people are excited about this.  It’s really a wonderful moment.  I am excited to see what happens.

Are you confirmed for Season Two?I am just as interested as you to find out.

The show has so many different storylines, but one of the most interesting ones, was the relationship that your character had with Thandie Newton. Don’t you agree?Yes, it was very special.  When I would read the script, I would have to pick up my jaw from the floor, like what is going on?  To know that my character was starting to have this seedling of growth between Thandie Newton and myself, I didn’t know that something was coming alive.  It was really, really spectacular, and I have got to give everything to Thandie Newton. She is such an amazing person to work with and not only is she an ultimate professional, but she really was a wonderful person at heart that really helped me and really took me under her wing.

One of the reasons that that part of the story is so attractive, is because we never understand fully why is he helping her?  Is it because he’s scared, or is it because he is secretly in love with her?

I think it’s all of those things. Certain feelings are starting to wake up within Felix.  And as you can see in the beautiful art direction that was done on the show, it’s all very sterile in the place that I work.  And yet, in this very sterile place, we find this little spark of life.  And you see that moment when Felix starts to work with the bird and the bird comes to life, I think that that’s representative of him, that he is looking for something, that freedom.  And when you find love, freedom comes, something that is beyond your own bio-mechanics, suddenly you start to feel something with someone else.  But then also mixed with that, I think the situation where he was in, he is definitely scared. As a technician he knows what the robots can do physically and I think that is a very scary moment.

You were born in Argentina from South Koran parents, grew up in Australia and have been living in America for many years. Do you feel like an Aussie in the US?  Like an American?  A bit Latino perhaps?

I feel like a global citizen in a way.  My brother and sister are in London.  But if I look at myself at the core of where I am, yes, I have been in the US longer than anywhere else.  And I have made that choice.  As an adult, I do feel like an American.  And I do feel like I have family and have friends here. But I did feel like I have that Latino spice in me, and my parents are Korean, but I have a very Australian way of going about things.  So I don’t know if that is a mixture of being from Argentina and Australia, but I think it’s a blessing that I have a very relaxed, kind of happy, very believing of the world, very trusting in a way of life. I feel very lucky to know that I represent all of these different parts of the world.

How did the industry react to you?  I mean, now they are starting to understand you, but in the beginning they probably went nuts, right?That’s exactly true.  That’s exactly what happened.  I would go in, and people would go what and they would say you don’t have an accent?  And I would say no, you have the accent, this is how I talk. And so it took them awhile and after a while I realized it was just easier if I went in and was American from the beginning. And slowly I think it is changing, I think people are slowly starting to open up their eyes and see that you can come from many different places and to be accepting with that.  And I hope it continues to do so, that would be a wonderful thing.  I would love to get a role where my accent has to shift and change in the role, that would be wonderful, and that would be amazing if there was a James Bond or something that changed accents to fit in.  That would be right up my alley...