Big Preview: Elisabeth Moss on A Handmaid's Tale

Elisabeth Moss stars in A Handmaid's Tale.
Elisabeth Moss stars in A Handmaid's Tale.
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Featuring on Channel 4 this weekend is the eagerly-awaited second series of the multi-Emmy-winning US drama set in a dystopian society that treats women as property of the state.

The Emmy-winning drama series returns with a second season shaped by Offred’s pregnancy and her ongoing fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead. “Gilead is within you” is a favorite saying of Aunt Lydia. In Season Two, Offred and all our favourite characters will fight against – or succumb to – this dark truth.

We caight up with star Elisabeth Moss who plays Offred...

Is this a fun set to work on?

Yeah, the set is really fun! It’s not as serious as anyone would possibly think it is. Max and I were just singing Taylor Swift songs to each other.

This season is about motherhood. What does it make you think about motherhood, and being a mother in this world, in our world? In Gilead, it seems really scary.

I think this season of the show is so much about that there’s so many different ways that you can be a mother and a father.

The different approaches that people have to it, and what it really means. I’m not a mother myself, so I can’t really speak from that specific place, but I do have a mother. I think that for us,

it’s about how you want to raise a child in this world, but the kind of world also that you want to bring them into.

You want to make sure that there is a place for them and that there is freedom for them.

What does this show represent in your career and also do you get to choose what characters you play? How do you choose a character?

I always try to choose what characters I play based on what’s the best material. The character I play is obviously an important part, but it’s almost secondary to the actual script itself. When you get both, a really good character and a really good script, that’s amazing like I had in Mad Men and now The Handmaid’s Tale. For me it’s kind of just all about what is the best material and the best script and I don’t really care if it’s a TV show or a play or a movie or big or small, I just go for what’s best.

As far as we’ve been told, this season is going to be a lot about women solidarity. What do you think about women solidarity?

I think that one of the saddest things about Season 1 for me and Yvonne [Strahovski] was Serena not having solidarity with Offred or with any of the Handmaids. That was shown in any scene where I got play Offred, just not understanding how she could turn her back on her fellow women.

Those scenes were very moving for me and for Yvonne. Without spoiling anything, yes, we do get into that more in Season 2 and start raising the question more and more, of why are you doing this? And not just Serena but the other wives as well, why are you turning against your fellow women? Why don’t you see what you’re doing to them? Don’t you see how you’re standing in solidarity with the oppression, by not standing up for these women? And we do bring it up, and I think it is really interesting to talk about.

I personally have a lot of women in my life, and I’ve always worked with women, and work with even more women now, fortunately. My entire team is women except for my lawyers. I’ve been very fortunate in my female relationships, but I’ve seen it happen, of course. I’ve seen women turn on each other, and I think The Handmaid’s Tale is a great representation of the extreme of that.

The series is sometimes really hard to watch. Are you ever afraid maybe it’s too hard to watch, maybe it is too much, too violent?

No, I think we temper hard-to-watch aspects of the show so many times with other things. It’s so romantic and beautiful and elegant and sad, all at the same time. I was watching an episode the other day that was literally making me laugh out loud. So we temper it a lot of times, but if we were to shy away from the reality of this world, of Gilead, that wouldn’t work either. So I think as long as we try to, it’s never gratuitous and as long as we are truthful and telling the story, then we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm