As Hulu prepares its adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, starring Elisabeth Moss, the dystopian tale has never felt fresher.
Margaret Atwood’s novel became an instant classic when it was first published in 1985, but in light of the current political climate, its themes feel more contemporary than ever. “We never wanted the show to be this relevant,” says star Elisabeth Moss from the Toronto set of the new Hulu series (out April 2017).
Set in the dystopian Republic of Gilead — a totalitarian theocracy in what was once the United States, where women have been stripped of their personal rights — the series finds Moss’ character, Offred, in a class called handmaids, females whose sole role in society is to reproduce.
Moss had long been a fan of Atwood’s novel, and after reading creator and executive producer Bruce Miller’s first few scripts, she not only agreed to headline the series — alongside Joseph Fiennes as the Commander, whom Offred serves — she also signed on as a producer. The Mad Men actress reveled in her new responsibilities, weighing in on everything from character development to selecting the right shade of red for the handmaid uniform. “This will go down as one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had, but to be able to have a voice in this is an entirely different experience for me. It only makes me want to work harder,” she says.
Moss and Miller’s efforts weren’t lost on Atwood herself, who has given their series — produced by MGM — her blessing and support. “If you’ve read the book, you know that this is an unbelievably rich world and story,” says Miller, who hopes the show will unfold over multiple seasons. “I have no trouble coming up with what’s going to happen in season 13,” he laughs. “I’m chomping at the bit to tell more and more and more.”
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This story originally appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1442. For more first-looks, subscribe.