Among the 21 Emmy nominations Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” racked up this year is the career-first citation for one of its series regulars, Max Minghella, who plays Nick Blaine on the show. “To see so much of the ‘Handmaid’s’ family recognized, but specifically the crew, was really meaningful because this year was so arduous and difficult,” Minghella says euphorically about his individual and the show’s recognition. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Minghella discusses his character’s progression throughout the series, his Emmy episode submission, and his collaboration with leading lady and director Elisabeth Moss.
The series is based on Margaret Atwood‘s 1985 novel of the same name, which is set in a dystopian near-future America, where women are enslaved as ‘handmaids’ due to plummeting birth-rates and forced to bear children for the ruling class in the new authoritarian Gilead theocracy. A now 75-time Emmy nominee and 15-time winner, the show took home the Best Drama Series honor in 2017 and became the first series on a streaming service to take home a series prize at the Emmys.
A Guardian and driver serving the Waterfords before becoming a Commander in the Gilead military, Minghella’s character Nick is initially an incredibly enigmatic, stoic and physically militant character. As the show has progressed, however, his numerous layers have slowly been peeled back and the person behind his ostensible stoicism gradually unveiled. After having “no sort of breathing space” and being unable to “drop his guard” in the Waterford household, Nick has had “more opportunity for freedom” as his role has expanded within Gilead, Minghella, in reference to his character’s development, expounds. “He’s always trying to find a way to repent for what he’s done,” the actor continues, accentuating that Nick’s journey “is to find a way to regain some moral composure through this relationship” to and “helping” June (Moss).
This is especially the case at the outset of the fourth season, which takes place in the aftermath of June helping 86 children and nine Marthas escape to Canada and sees Nick return from the front lines to the Eastern District. After June is on the run for the first two episodes, she is recaptured by Gilead at the of the second and sent to a harrowing detention facility in third, titled “The Crossing,” which serves as Minghella’s episode submission to Emmy judges. As June withholds the whereabouts of her follow handmaids, she is subjugated to mental and physical torture, to the dismay of a perturbed Nick, who is unwilling to let her go. Minghella particularly highlights working with Moss in this installment, which significantly marks the actress’ directorial debut. “I think it’s the best work we’ve ever done,” Minghella, who made his own directorial debut with his 2018 feature “Teen Spirit,” says about his and his co-stars’ work in Moss’s directorial effort, which he calls “a combination of Mike Leigh and Zach Snyder.”
Moss also sat in the director’s chair for the season’s eighth and ninth episodes, the latter of which is titled “Progress” and sees Nick and June reunite in an undisclosed location after the latter has escaped to Canada. “I think it’s the first time that you see Nick fully with his guard down,” Minghella says, underlining that reuniting with not only June but their daughter, Nichole, is “stressful” for and “takes a toll” on Nick. His character being absent in the three preceding episodes allowed Minghella as an actor to additionally channel his character’s distress in a physical way. “I hope that the audience do notice that he [Nick] looks a little haggard” and is “about 20 pounds heavier,” Minghella reveals.
At the Emmys, Minghella is nominated in the Best Drama Supporting Actor category, alongside two of his co-stars: O-T Fagbenle, who also received his maiden nom this year, and Bradley Whitford, who has thus far netted eight nominations and three wins, including his drama guest actor victory for “Handmaid’s” in 2019.
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