Melody Ranch, Man in Black, and now merkin is a need-to-know term for any Westworld conversation after star Thandie Newton confessed she doesn’t wear one on The Graham Norton Show. But this one isn’t fiction. A merkin is an artificial hair covering actresses wear over the genital region during nude scenes. It’s a vag wig, basically.
Newton says many actresses wear them if their personal grooming habits don’t match their character’s, but the mother of four doesn’t have a problem in that department. Newton proudly rocks a bush, saying on Graham Norton, “I didn’t need the merkin because I don’t alter anything. Full ‘70s bush.” She also thinks it’s an important detail for the show’s wild wild West setting, which is carefully detailed down to the pubic hair, exclaiming, “The prairie, the wide-open prairie! They weren’t waxing and stripping and plucking!” Fellow interviewee Chris Pratt confirmed his love as well, saying, “I’m pro-bush!”
Newton is no stranger to talking bluntly about nudity, telling Vanity Fair, “Jesus Christ, I am naked a lot in this show, man.” The actress even seemed surprised by the lack of nude scenes in the second season while some male co-stars were intimidated by them. She also says the cast and crew are especially supportive while shooting the vulnerable scenes, saying they handled it with “grace and sensitivity.”
Westworld has a complex history with sexuality. Season 1 faced criticism for its extensive use of female nudity and sexual violence, but season 2 is seeing a reversal of this pattern as the android hosts gain power. Newton explains how nudity illustrates power changing hands: "So, the second season, when Maeve insists that [Lee] strip to nothing, she wants him to truly feel how it feels. To be that vulnerable...I think it sets the tone of what the show is going to be focussing on in the second season, which is to turn the tables."