Bruce Miller interview: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ producer
“The Handmaid’s Tale” originally premiered on Hulu in April of 2017, pulling viewers into the world of Gilead, where fertility rates have collapsed and the totalitarian government rules following an American civil war. The Hulu series was an instant hit with viewers and critics alike, becoming the first Emmy winner for Best Drama Series from a streaming service. After four seasons, creator and executive producer Bruce Miller says the key to the show’s continued success is sticking with Margaret Atwood’s story. Watch the full interview with the PGA Awards nominee above.
Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name remains the foundation of the series. “As long as you’re extending out what is a really well thought-through, strong foundation of a world, it makes it a lot easier,” Miller tells Gold Derby in our “Meet the Experts” panel for Producers Guild Awards nominees. “Luckily, Margaret’s been around for the whole process. We’ve been able to talk about extensions of the things that she mentioned in the book. I think we’re very much still making ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and making Margaret Atwood’s book into a television show. We’ve just been able to dig around in some edges you don’t get time to in the novel.”
“The bulk of people who adapt a book don’t have any contact with the author,” Miller continues. “And if they do, it’s sometimes negative. But often-times when you’re adapting a classic the author is long gone. So you don’t have anybody to talk to at all. In terms of me just having a resource of someone to talk to, her available time is never enough for me. I love her to be involved and we do talk as often as we can. We try to talk about the season all the way through as we’re making it. Margaret is always a producer on the project. We’re very lucky that Margaret is an expert at having her work adapted.”
Miller admits that creating a world that is filled with evil and negativity can be exhausting as a producer. “It is draining,” he acknowledges. “It is more draining during these times when you feel like stuff you’re writing is then reflected six months later in the real world. You’re trying to come up with the worst things you can imagine and then when someone says, ‘Ha, ha, ha, it happened,’ you’re like, no, that’s not funny. I was really trying to come up with something terrible. The way that you deal with it is by the incredible good grace and professionalism of our cast, crew and writing staff. It’s about entertainment and it’s about telling a good story. The things that happen to them that knock them down, we’re thinking about how do they endure those, not how do we inflict those. It’s much more. a story about endurance and heroics.”
Throughout the process of making this series, Miller feels extraordinarily lucky to be partnered with the show’s star, co-producer and often-times director, Elisabeth Moss. “We didn’t know each other coming into this project,” he explains. “She had not directed when she came onto this project and I don’t think she had been a producer yet. She’s a producer in every respect, not just in name only. She’s as remarkable as a talent as you would imagine. She creates a very calm environment that translates to how she produces. She’s a wonderful colleague. But creatively, she’s invested trust in me and opened herself up as an artist to me in ways that I cannot appreciate enough.”
Watch the full interview above. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is available to watch on Hulu and has been renewed for a fifth season.