Aaron Paul on the hidden meaning of his 'Westworld' character's name

  • Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Westworld" season three, episode one, "Parce Domine."
  • The new season of "Westworld" introduces a character played by Aaron Paul named Caleb.
  • Insider spoke with Paul about the new season premiere, including how his character's name translates to "dog."
  • Paul also responded coyly to the suggestion that people might think his character is a host.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The new season of HBO's sci-fi drama "Westworld" kicks off with Dolores infiltrating the real world in 2058. By the episode's end, Dolores has connected with a brand new character named Caleb, played by Aaron Paul. 

The name Caleb is linked to the Hebrew word for "dog." This wouldn't be the first time "Westworld" creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have had fun with names and hidden meanings. The name Dolores, for example, translates to "sorrow" or "pain."

"I was not aware of that whatsoever," Paul told Insider when we asked if he knew about his character's name meaning when he first signed on to the HBO series. "Actually Evan [Rachel Wood] introduced me to that whole theory and how names really represent the characters we're playing for particular [people]."

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in "Westworld" season three.
John P. Johnson/HBO

Wood, the series' costar for the last two seasons, would know all about the clever games Nolan and Joy like to play with character reveals. 

"It's fascinating," Paul said. "It's really beautiful and cool to see how [Nolan and Joy] work. Their attention to detail, not only with the names, but with everything, it's just really cool to be around."

Paul's character Caleb is a seemingly good-hearted person who is trying to climb the socioeconomic ladder but keeps hitting road blocks. He finally meets Dolores when he's hired as a errand-boy by the Incite corporation's security team (who are trying to drug and "dump" Dolores). 

Once Paul had spoken with Wood about Caleb's name meaning, he says it "tipped the hat" but he also explained how Nolan and Joy had prepped him for the character's journey ahead of time.

"I felt like I had a grasp of who this guy was even before reading the scripts, so it definitely tipped the hat a little bit, but I was very much aware of his direction," Paul said. "More layers were revealed with each script that I read, obviously, but when I first sat down with Lisa and Jonah they gave me the broad strokes of who this guy was, his backstory, where he came from, the direction he is heading and, the direction this season and this series was heading."

Aaron Paul as Caleb in "Westworld."
HBO

"For me, being such a massive fan of this show, it was just exciting to sit down  with the people behind it and get a peek at the inner workings of it all and how it's made," Paul said. "It's just a beautiful thing."

So who exactly is Caleb, and what's the deal with his past?

Throughout the premiere episode, we learn a lot about Caleb. He's an ex-soldier, and currently working construction jobs by day and helping with petty crimes by night for extra cash. 

"I think Caleb comes from a very complicated past, as we all do in a way," Paul said. "For the most part, he prides himself on trying to be the best person that he can be. During his time at war, he saw some pretty heavy things and he lost people very close to him and he was lucky to get out of that, and come back and survive."

As the season three premiere reveals, his friend Francis (Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi) was a fellow soldier who got killed while he and Caleb were together. 

Aaron Paul in the "Westworld" season 3 trailer.
HBO/YouTube

"So he wants to — he tries — to live on the straight and narrow, but he can't bust through whatever chains he's tied onto," Paul said. "He keeps trying and trying, but he can't break through this ceiling and so he's forced into doing these odd crime jobs. But he has a limit, a line that he won't pass."

Caleb repeatedly says he won't do "personals" — a job classification that seems to include things like murder, kidnap, and assault. Instead he prefers to run black market errands or rob ATMs. 

His life is centered on a cycle not unlike Dolores and the other hosts' old "loops" inside Westworld. The premiere episode seems to go out of its way to draw links between Caleb and other hosts — like how the framing for his "wake up" scenes is just like the ones we saw with Dolores and Maeve in the first season. 

We asked Paul what he thought about the potential for fans to think his character might be a host. 

"I have a lot of thoughts, about a lot of things," Paul said through laughter. "It's exciting, you know? I don't know what's real and what's not."

For now, Paul is leaving it up to fans to interpret the links between his character and the hosts as they see fit. New episodes of "Westworld" season three will air Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.

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