“Moira is just looking for something to be easy,” Emmy Award winner Samira Wiley says about her character’s intentions in the fourth season of Hulu‘s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which recently returned with new episodes. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), the actress discusses how Moira searches for happiness in post-Gilead life, is affected by having been a queer handmaid in Gilead and takes in her reunion with June (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. Even though the show has made explicit that shaking Gilead is onerous even outside of its parameters, Wiley highlights that Moira is looking for “what kind of happiness can be attached” to her life in Canada. The actress explains that her character is potentially finding this contentment in part in her co-parenting relationship with Luke (O-T Fagbenle) as well as her romantic relationship with her partner, Oona (Zawe Ashton).
With respect to the latter relationship, Wiley points out that queer handmaids who weren’t able to bear children were hung up on the wall in Gilead, which leaves behind deep scars on Moira. At the same time, she goes through “a lot of that hurt that people in the LGBT community carry around with them” even in contemporary society, the actress accentuates. In certain situations, they “try to shake off the shame that people try to put on” them, she continues, underscoring that Oona brings “ease” to Moira’s life in that regard. It’s “healing,” Wiley says, for Moira to see a woman “who is not ashamed of her own sexuality” and is “able to move through the world and not have that baggage.”
In the fourth season, viewers also see Moira at work, rehousing the Gileadean refugee children who do not have relatives in Canada. “A lot of that, for Moira, centers around survivor’s guilt,” Wiley expounds, revealing that Moira is in part holding out hope that June or Hannah (Jordana Blake) will eventually be among those whom she is to help re-integrate into society. Plus, “what she can do for these people is exactly what she wants to be doing for the people she loves” but aren’t there, she adds.
In that regard, a big turning point for Moira is her reunion with June in Chicago in the fifth episode, which comes after she agrees to be part of a rescue task force that helps refugees in the area. “It is not the June whom Moira knows,” Wiley admits, putting emphasis on the fact that Moira has been in Canada for four years, which are simultaneously “four years more trauma” for June. Moira is putting the continuity of the aforementioned rescue mission, her relationship with Oona and her own life at risk to guide June to freedom, but Moira’s “whole life revolves around” getting her best friend back, the actress emphasizes. She carries on, “Moira does a lot of mental gymnastics to make that the most uncomplicated decision of her life.”
Going forward, viewers will see how the past four years have made Moira and June “different people” and will make them “resist in two different ways,” the actress teases. Moira will discover that, after four years, the relationship has inevitably changed, which is “a lot to swallow when you have just been wanting this person back for this long, so you can get back to where you were, and all of a sudden, you realize that’s impossible,” Wiley concludes.
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