Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski Interview – The Hollywood Reporter

[This story contains spoilers from the two-episode premiere of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.]

A smirk and a growl.

Those are duel pictures The story of the maid Leave it to the viewer when it comes back.

The smug smile comes from Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski), as Gilead’s once reigning wife enjoys a triumphant moment when, during a global broadcast of her late husband’s funeral, she brought Hannah (Jordana Blake) to television. And the growl comes from June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss), who is on the receiving end of that message, as she witnesses her pre-teen daughter being used as a pawn.

But the actresses who played the women who starred in Hulu’s Emmy-winning incest series say those physical reactions were just the tip of the iceberg as the show kicked off its penultimate season.

“The concept of June v. Serena won’t be as simple as you think,” said Elisabeth Moss, who also directed the first two episodes, “Morning” and “Ballet.” The Hollywood Reporter on their burgeoning dynamics, which are again focused on the fifth season. “We set it up in a really big way — in the biggest way you can get on that jumbotron. Where it goes is really personal, intimate and complex. “

The history between June and Serena – with June as Serena’s former maid – is inherently complicated and intimate. Serena not only had an active hand in helping to create Gilead, a totalitarian society that served as the foundation for The story of the maidshe also played an active role in the systematic rape of her husband Fred (Joseph Fiennes) in June (which led to his violent murder at the end of season four) in the hopes that she brings a child for them, as well as Gilead’s command.

Throughout June and Serena’s tumultuous history, there have also been moments of quiet cooperation, like when June became pregnant by Nick (Max Minghella) instead of Fred, and Serena helped June and Nick’s baby, Nichole, eventually escaped to safety. But all of that seems to be wiped away in this thrilling moment of season five, when Serena reminds June that she helped take away her first daughter, Hannah, who is still being held captive in Gilead. even if June found freedom in Canada.

“[The funeral broadcast] sets the scene in a very complicated way,” said Moss, who is also an executive producer and is currently finishing editing for season five. “We’re working on the finale and it’s really exciting to go back and see where we started, go back to episodes one and two, because we’ve really come this far from episode two to the finale. conclude. We go one Long Street. This season is desolate; That’s the word I’m going to use. ”

Strahovski similarly describes the season as a roller coaster ride, noting that Serena and June’s ride not only goes up and down but also does a lot of upside down turns. “They’re trying to support each other,” she added CHEAP in a separate chat. “It was, ‘Oh, you’re going to take Fred? Well, I’ll remind you that I can take your daughter again. ‘ And it started from there. “

As the season began, Strahovski described Serena as “another form” of unremarkable, now feeling hopeless and alone. “We’ve seen Serena molt in different ways in previous seasons, but this is easy to scare,” she said. After losing influence in Gilead, Serena and Fred spent most of their fourth season in a cell while being held by the Canadian government. However, her unintended pregnancy eventually brings Serena and Fred closer together, which is why she’s hit hard by his murder at the hands of June and a group of friends. The old maid is looking for revenge. June also sent Fred’s severed ring finger to Serena, a move creator Bruce Miller told of CHEAP sure to provoke a scary reaction from Serena, who still has cards to play.

Elisabeth Moss (right), who starred and directed the premiere, with Yvonne Strahovski, as the pregnant Serena, backstage from the season five opening.

Courtesy of Sophie Giraud / Hulu

Strahovski said: “I think it affects Serena when Fred is gone and she really has no one on her court, although that relationship is complicated. “All these people are pulling back or implicated in some way; Mark Tuello [the U.S. government representative in Canada, played by Sam Jaeger] is showing signs of withdrawing from Serena, and whatever bondage Serena thought she had with June, now June has gone out and murdered Fred. Serena feels so exposed, abandoned, betrayed by whatever was left of her life, that the fear has now become too great.”

Strahovski cited the scene at the morgue – where Serena found out that June would go unpunished, because the murder happened outside of Canadian jurisdiction, and it was presented with Mark Tuello – as the standard representative. most representative of how Serena is recovering from fear, before moving on to spring and using Hannah to come back in June. As an actress, “it was really fun to do those scenes from space. there, and then get that revenge funeral moment,” she added. “Serena’s way of acting and to protect herself, and Gilead’s survival and all those situations, is to attack.”

Hannah guest brings the whole show, back to the first episode establishes the whole story of The story of the maid: A daughter is torn from her mother’s arms, and the battle to get her mother back.

“From the very beginning, I’ve always felt this story has a lot to do with survival – and not just June’s survival, but so many characters’ quest for survival. Seek to survive as you are, who you want to be, with the choices you want to make. I found that very moving,” Moss said of what she calls the heart of the show. “Whoever it is, whether it’s Serena or June or Moira [Samira Wiley]they are always looking to survive as the person they want to be. “

She continued, “And with June and Serena, they’re trying to figure out who that person is. I always describe this season as June versus Serena, but more importantly, it’s June versus Offred [her handmaid name] and Serena against Mrs. Waterford. These are two women trying to figure out who they are in this new world where both are post-Gilead but still feel Gilead is pulling them. They’re trying to be newbies with this supposed newfound freedom, and it’s not that easy. And they are circling each other in their quest.”

In particular, for June, the main character has very little time to process the trauma she has gone through, and is tasked with finding out who she wants to be. By charting 24 hours after Fred’s murder, the premiere of the fifth season begins as the fourth season ends, meaning that June has only been free for a few months and Fred’s blood is really still there. dry on her hand. Moss said the opening scene in the diner, where June and her maids have a “bacchanal” party like warriors to the tune of “Gettin’ Happy” by Dolly Parton – a scene she directed. acting – is one of her favorite scenes in the entire series.

“The guilt she feels is very clear and she wants to be punished. She wanted someone to tell her what was right and what was wrong,” Moss said of the early June space as the season kicked off, after the dinner ceremony put her on a path of self-reflection. . “Coming from Gilead, she has a very distorted view of what is right and what is wrong, about violence and when it is right and when it is wrong, she is not only a victim of violence but has witnessed it so many times. She desperately wants someone to say, ‘What you did was wrong and you need to be punished for it.’ And, she doesn’t understand. She didn’t get that release. She did not have that satisfaction. So she didn’t know where to put it.”

Moss says it’s Serena who will help June figure that out as the season progresses, crediting Strahovski for the complexity she brings to the role (“vulnerability, knowledge of her flaws,”) Serena is pure genius and totally Yvonne”).

“We’re building on this idea of ​​Fred Waterford being the villain, and the only one June has to defeat. And what became very clear at the start of our season is, it didn’t fix anything for June. It’s a momentary feeling of euphoria and relief, but it doesn’t solve the problem,” says Moss. “Serena is the other half of this June that she needs to deal with. Just like how June needs to deal with her own demons, she needs to deal with the person who has influenced her life, and who has been a huge part of her life, according to positive and negative ways. “

The story of the maid releases new season five episodes weekly, Wednesdays on Hulu. Go here for more CHEAPnews about the season, including an interview and chat with Miller.

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