“He’s a man full of self-loathing,” declares Joseph Fiennes about his character on Hulu’s Emmy-winning hit “The Handmaid’s Tale.” “He hides behind this mahogany desk and military boots, but inside the man is this pathetic, self-loathing animal,” he says. “There’s a joy in playing those kinds of characters that are full of those complexities.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Fiennes above.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, and stars Elisabeth Moss as June, one of thousands of handmaids, enslaved to give birth for the barren ruling class in the dystopian Gilead regime. Fiennes plays Commander Fred Waterford, who alongside his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), were architects of the authoritarian regime who now enjoy their status as members of the Gilead elite.
The series’ intense third season follows June and her resistance against the regime, including her clandestine efforts to transport children to freedom across the border. The Waterfords, after a season-long quest to retrieve their “daughter” Nichole, travel north where Waterford is captured to face justice in Canada as a war criminal. While Serena is temporarily reunited with Nichole, she too pays the ultimate price when Waterford betrays her and she is arrested as a co-conspirator.
Fiennes says that he was very satisfied with his character’s journey throughout season 3. “I loved the season for me, it was a lot to get my teeth into. We had this wonderful moment where Serena literally burns down the house and takes all of Fred’s belongings with him.”
“He’s then has this wonderful arc and journey where we has to win her and his position back and it ends up where she betrays him after he finally thinks he’s won her back,” he explains. “That wonderful moment when they’re in that garden towards the very end and he literally says ‘I’d give everything up for you,’ and then the next episode she has sold him down the river and then the next episode after that he flips the script on her. For me it was deeply satisfying.”
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