Elisabeth Moss Interview: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
“How do you make a character that is consistently hitting rock bottom, hit rock bottom again? And bring her back up?” asks Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss about the most challenging aspect of the third season of Hulu’s Emmy-winning hit “The Handmaid’s Tale.” “It was hard to do, but I’m really proud of the way we did it.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Moss above.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, adapted by creator Bruce Miller in which Moss stars as June, one of thousands of handmaids, enslaved to give birth for the barren ruling class in the dystopian Gilead regime. The series’ third season follows June and her resistance against the regime. When June is assigned to a new household headed up by Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford), the two form a bond as Lawrence works behind the scenes to help June’s clandestine efforts to transport children to freedom across the border to Canada.
“What I’m most proud of is how we pulled June up from the ashes and gave her a real purpose in getting those kids out. I loved that story,” she admits. “I loved the idea that she has been so focused on Hannah and obviously still is, but I loved the idea that she’s started to think a little bit bigger and started to look around at all of the other women who has lost their kids and what had happened to them and take her self out of it.”
Season 3 concluded almost a year ago in August 2019 and would likely have premiered its fourth season in the next few months had it not been for production pausing due to the global pandemic. The cast and crew had just begun shooting the show’s third episode before the shut down, which just so happened to be Moss’ directorial debut. It was bittersweet for Moss because after pouring her heart and soul into preparing to helm her very first episode, she was forced to put it on hold.
However, Moss is clearly enjoying her time in the director’s chair, enthusiastically embracing the opportunity. “The biggest discovery for me and what I most nervous about was talking to the other actors. I’m not a trained actor, I don’t really have a set process and I was really nervous about that part of it. But working with the actors ended up being far more magical than I ever could have imagined,” she reveals. “You’ve got this cast, this incredible orchestra. They’re always good, every take is good, every take is brilliant! But to get to go in and give them an idea and then go and sit back at the monitor and be like,” gesturing as if she is transfixed by the actors’ performances,”just eating my popcorn and watching them be so brilliant. It’s so interesting how they would take an idea you said or a thought and then how they translate it and how it comes back out and how they interpret it. I became one of those directors that would be crying behind the monitor! I cannot believe I am that director!” she laughs.