“With a lot of what’s going on in the world, the show has a powerful message of warning and unfortunately too much resonance,” reveals Bradley Whitford about “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The third season is launching now on Hulu, but Whitford is eligible for his guest role that aired last summer in Season 2. Watch our exclusive video interview above where he adds, “this year we are dealing with refugee and separation issues. It’s extraordinary to me that in the United States we are separating mothers from their children and families are being separated.”
The dystopian series is set in a fundamentalist society called Gilead, where women are enslaved due to plummeting birth-rates. The actor explains, “We’re clearly not living in Gilead today, but the most disturbing scenes to me are the flashbacks where you see those moments when things start to change. If you told me when I got this part, not that long ago, that several states would be passing laws that punish a woman who was raped for not carrying her child to term more harshly than the perpetrator of the rape I would have said you were some liberal aluminum hat conspiracy theorist.”
“The Handmaid’s Tale” won the Emmy award for Best Drama Series for its first season in 2017. For the new Season 3, he has joined the program as a full-time regular cast member. Actresses Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel and Samira Wiley have all prevailed at the Emmys for their roles.
On the series he plays Commander Joseph Lawrence, one of the founders of Gilead who last season played a hand in helping some women escape the oppressive regime. The actor reveals, “there’s so much difficulty with this guy. He’s not in a static place emotionally or morally. One of the joys of doing television is you discover it as you’re doing it. I have some ideas where he could potentially end up but I don’t want to know that much.”
He continues, “We were at the U.N. yesterday talking with people who deal with women’s issues. One thing they were talking about was that people react in very inconsistent unreadable ways when operating in a system like North Korea. Self-preservation is usually a bottom line which can constrain their better angels. Lawrence is struggling with that. In one sense, it’s like chemo. He was trying to save the world. It’s brutal but necessity is the rational armor he wraps himself in. But other times he’s able to recognize the horror of what he’s created.”
The actor won his first of two Emmys for playing Josh Lyman on “The West Wing” (his second was for guesting on “Transparent”). It was a role where he met Moss, who is now the Emmy-winning lead on “Handmaid’s Tale.” Whitford reflects, “I think Lizzie is giving the performance of a generation. She is placed in unspeakable emotional horror relentlessly. And it’s amazing to be doing this with Lizzie, who I met when she was 17 and a wonderful young actor. It’s amazing to have met someone when they are this young kid actor and then come in, not that long after, and they are this fully mature artist firing on all cylinders. It’s really a joy.”
In addition to his guest arc on “THT,” Whitford is also on the Emmy Awards ballot this summer for “Valley of the Boom.” He is eligible as Best Movie/Limited Series Supporting Actor for the NatGeo program about the early days of Silicon Valley.
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