Yvonne Strahovski Source

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December 11, 2018

One thing is for sure, Commander Fred has crapped the proverbial marital bed on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, especially after the profoundly disturbing scene last season that showed him putting his wayward book reading wife Serena Joy in her place…minus a digit.

Yvonne Strahovski’s chilling and conflicted turn as Serena Joy on Handmaid’s Tale has left all of us wondering her next move, as Season 3 will dangle a plethora of possibilities in this televised adaptation of Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s chilling gender dystopian nightmare that parallels a bit of real life, uncomfortably so for some.

In her former pre-Gilead existence, our pious media-savvy public speaker and author Serena was a rock star, a veritable muse, and architect of what Gilead was to be on paper, igniting the passion and desire within graspy little Fred, who wisely latched on to her star.

Cut to today in Gilead, where Fred is elevated in stature and makes sure all under him know that they are supplicants, even his wife, the one who literally shaped the matrix of which he is now part of the ruling class.

Will Serena tire of Fred’s hypocrisy, outright cheating, flirtatious ways, pedantic and paternalistic put-downs and finally join the resistance? That would be the most satisfying and in a sense, utterly predictable turn of events for those invested in this bleak yet addictive series.

More importantly, is she plotting his death after he cut off her pinky finger as punishment for reading in front of the assembled Gilead brass?

Or will her character capitulate and continue in her privileged oppressor role enjoying a protected life cloistered inside the mansion while pining for baby Holly/Nicole currently on the lam (thanks to Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) who I hope we see again in season three) with her mum Offred/June?

Well, there’s lots at stake and we are well past the original source material Ms. Atwood put out in 1984. The original story now has some interesting potential outcomes. Which way, Serena Joy?

One thing is for sure, it seems evil always overplays it’s hand, eventually. Will the resistance organize enough to topple the hierarchy of Gilead and more importantly, will Serena Joy re-establish her sense of self-worth and her voice?

In real life, Strahovski is a new mother to a baby boy born this past October. She also narrowly escaped losing her home during the recent Malibu and California fires. Luckily she weathered the threat and has found time to do some great good with the Sierra Club as a spokesperson to boot.

We spoke with Yvonne about what is to come on the Hulu series and beyond.

Monsters and Critics: Serena Joy, she was the intellectual architect in so many ways for Gilead. And now Gilead has bitten this hand that’s helped build her…

Yvonne Strahovski: It is literal as well. Right? She’s lost a finger for standing up against it. Yeah, that’s really interesting that she does make that move to sort of take a stand against something that she was a part of creating in the first place.

A lot of people ask me, “What did Serena expect would happen in that moment?”

And I do think that perhaps she maybe thought that it wasn’t ever going to pass by the panel of men that were sitting there and listening to her. I’m sure there was hope that they would listen, but I think more than anything it was a moment for her where she was finally doing a good thing in her life, where she doesn’t normally do good things.

We know Serena to be very bitter and miserable and to do horrible things. This is such a moment where she was standing up for her daughter and for all the daughters in Gilead and the future of women in this society.

And I think it just felt good to just do something good, regardless of the outcome. And I think she was always willing to pay the price for it, even though I think she didn’t expect to.

M&C: I can see why. Because your character, Serena, really lashed out at Fred in anger when you guys were on the chase for pregnant Offred when she was hiding in that big, cold mansion. And he seemed chastened and cowered. He took it. That was the first time I think we saw your character really let loose on Fred.

Yvonne: Yeah.

Full interview: monstersandcritics.com


November 29, 2018

Awards Daily talks to Emmy-nominated Yvonne Strahovski about that Season 2 courtroom scene, how motherhood has changed her perception of Serena Joy, and what side her character stands on in the upcoming season.
Yvonne Strahovski and Serena Joy have something in common: They’re both new moms—something that inspired a new outlook for the actress playing one of the most complicated villains on television.

Sadly, I already had empathy for Serena,” laughs Strahovski. “It’s kind of my job to. It’s not so much empathy, but now having that feeling of being a mom and truly understanding the love you experience when you have a child, that’s so miraculously and other-worldly.

Strahovski says comparing her own motherhood to Serena’s desire to have that feeling and experience has added dimension to the way she thinks about her character. “I think it definitely will be inspiring moving forward into Season 3. It adds another scope to me as a person, which will inevitably add another layer to playing Serena.

Commander Brett Kavanaugh?
Not only did Strahovski’s life mirror her character’s, but the show resembled real-life politics when memes popped up comparing Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh to Serena Joy’s plea to let women read.

Oh, yes, I wasn’t surprised,” laughs Strahovski. “It was really interesting and sad at the same time. Like everything really, it’s sad that we have something in real life to compare our show to. I wish it wasn’t the case.

For the climactic scene, Strahovski couldn’t even see her audience, which is a testament to her powerful performance.

When I shot my closeups for that scene, I didn’t actually get to look at the guys at all, because we were kind of far apart. Half the time, when you’re working, they put up flags and things for lighting and your eyeline unfortunately gets blocked.

Serena Joy is masterful in this moment, even if Strahovski says her character isn’t confident that she’ll be able to change the commanders’ minds.

I think she’s well aware that it may not work out. I think more so than wanting to go in and really convince them of [letting women be allowed to read], she wants to feel good about doing something that’s truthfully good for her baby and for other people and women. I think she’s been being this crabby, bitter, miserable woman for so long, that I think more than anything it just felt good to do something that felt right, regardless of the outcome.

Of course, Serena Joy does not win and ends up being disfigured as punishment.

The way that she gets punished is awful, and I’m not sure she expected that. That’s more of the surprise, that her husband would really go even further than the beating in Episode 8. I think that’s where the surprise lands.

Season 3 Serena and Offred: Will They or Won’t They?
There’s not much love between the Commander (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena, and there’s not much between Offred (Elisabeth Moss) either, even if there’s certainly potential with this twisted female friendship.

I think they do respect each other. They know each other’s strengths and each other’s weaknesses maybe better than each of them understand themselves in ways. They certainly know how to get under each other’s skin. It’s a very sad relationship. It wants to go in a good direction, but it just never can quite get there. But it’s so fascinating to see that dynamic. You see them constantly trying. It’s very much an uphill battle and it comes crashing down no matter what avenue they go down. But they get so close. It will be interesting to see if we can push that even further in Season 3.

Speaking of Season 3, the end of Season 2 concluded with Serena cooperating with Offred to save baby Nichole/Holly from Gilead. Does this mean Serena has joined the resistance?

I think everyone wants that for her. Would it be interesting to see her automatically flip to the resistance? Probably not. I think there are a lot of obvious choices with where each of our characters could go, and I certainly have a couple of favorites of obvious choices in my head. But what I love about what the writers do is that they never pick the obvious choice. They craftly surprise us and then the audiences with where we go. I think we will definitely have an element of surprise in Serena’s journey in Season 3. I certainly enjoyed listening to it when [showrunner] Bruce [Miller] told me. Hopefully everyone else does, too.

Source: awardsdaily.com

 


August 21, 2018

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Serena Joy is one of the many wicked characters on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but she’s also one that fans found more and more understandable as Season 2 went on. And viewers of the Hulu drama who struggle with their empathy for Serena can thank actress Yvonne Strahovski for their turmoil, as she worked hard to create that feeling.

It’s important for me to try to make this character as relatable as possible, even though she’s despicable,” said Strahovski, whose first-ever Emmy nomination was one of eight acting noms for the show that won eight Emmys last year, including Outstanding Drama Series.

(The other acting nominees: lead actress Elisabeth Moss, supporting actor Joseph Fiennes, supporting actresses Alexis Bledel and Ann Dowd and guests Samira Wiley, Cherry Jones and Kelly Jenrette.)

For the actress, Season 2 was an extended case of what she called “navigating a really fine line between the Jekyll and Hyde of Serena — her ice queen fighting the sensitive, vulnerable side that was revealing itself slowly.

Throughout the season, Serena, the wife of Commander Fred Waterford (Fiennes) would do something kind for the handmaiden Offred/June (Moss), who was carrying a child for the couple.

But in the next moment, driven by jealousy and fury, she would become more wicked than we’d ever seen her before. Episode after episode, Serena grappled with her desire to become a mother, which naturally put her at odds with June — the woman whose biological baby she was trying to snatch from her womb and mother herself.

I was really excited when I sat down with [creator] Bruce [Miller] before we started filming and he told me about the motherhood storyline that Serena was going to have this year,” Strahovski said.

He did leave a few things out, so I was still surprised by some of the things that come up in the scripts. But I love that Serena has this unrealistic view of what motherhood means to her and it totally breaks down and changes towards the end. She basically does a 180 that has the worst outcome for her and the best outcome for the baby. Her journey this season was about learning what motherhood really means.

And it finally changes the Offred-Serena relationship, which Strahovski said reminds her “of a volatile lovers’ affair where they would come together and break up again, and come together and break up again. Ultimately there are so many reasons why they can’t come together. But the baby is one big reason why they can.

Source: thewrap.com


August 16, 2018

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ star discusses her Emmy nomination for best supporting actress in a drama series.
I’m really stoked, actually. I woke up in the morning really late to a lot of missed calls on my phone,” The Handmaid’s Tale actress Yvonne Strahovski told The Hollywood Reporter of getting the news of her Emmy nomination.

Unlike season one, Strahovski said she was able to explore her character Serena Joy at length in season two of the Hulu series. “It’s allowed me to deep dive into her emotional psyche and vulnerability. And to break down the iciness that we had seen in season one.

One of those dives came in the episode where Joy decides to return to Gilead despite seeing life outside the suppression. Strahovski said of that moment, “It was so confronting on so many different layers. She’s watching women on phones and being independent.

Strahovski said she feels a little dirty playing a character who has to justify what she’s doing. “Ultimately I’m on Team Audience who loathes her and wants her to be a better person,” she said.

The actress revealed that she kept her pregnancy in real life secret for a few weeks during production. When she had to film a scene where she is beaten, she said it was time to let producer Bruce Miller and actress Elisabeth Moss know the situation.

On working with Moss, Strahovski said, “It’s like having the greatest sparring partner ever.” She added that they are able to get in and out of their characters and get along between takes.

Strahovski, originally from Australia, said she wasn’t privy to American politics, although being on a show like Handmaid’s Tale has made her more aware and active in the conversation. “The show has been enlightening and empowering,” she said.

The actress also revealed that she’s not sure whether she will attend the Emmys given her pregnancy, but she hopes to be there to support her cast and crew, a group that’s brought in 20 different nominations this year.

Source: hollywoodreporter.com


August 15, 2018

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Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In this week’s episode, Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, talks with “The Handmaid’s Tale” star Yvonne Strahovski.

The conversation with the actress, who received a 2018 supporting actress Emmy nomination for her work as Serena Joy in the sci-fi drama’s sophomore season, spanned topics ranging from the age-old Serena as victim-versus-villain debate, as well as Strahovski’s speculations into her character’s Season 3 arc.

The second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” pushed Serena to the edge emotionally and physically, with Strahovski and Elisabeth Moss as Offred/June facing off in no shortage of intense scenes. With Season 2 having officially left Margaret Atwood’s source material behind, Strahovski was pleased at the writers’ decision to complicate her character beyond the bitter wife.

I’m so grateful that they really took a deep dive with Serena Joy this season and fleshed her out even more, in a way where I was given an opportunity to really access her vulnerability and get real raw — raw in all the crevices with her — and break down that iciness that was first established in Season 1,” Strahovski says. “It’s been such a tumultuous but rewarding ride.

The series’ sophomore scripts also forced Strahovski to participate in several disturbing scenes, whether Serena was enduring a finger amputation and belt buckle beating at the hands of her husband, or perpetrating an organized rape of Offred. Her problematic journey sparked debate among viewers as to whether Serena should ultimately be viewed as a villain or a victim.

She’s clearly a villain for so many reasons, but she’s also human, and that was the first thing that stuck out to me way back when I read the pilot,” Strahovski says. “There was distrust there to begin with, and there’s another woman moving in to reproduce with my husband. I mean, those were the basics. Those were the raw elements that made me think, that would drive anyone crazy on an emotional level. The misery and the anger that that would provoke is very powerful, so to me, she was always very human.”

Eventually, Strahovski believes all of Serena’s harrowing experiences throughout the second season informed her shocking — and potentially redeeming — decision to release her kidnapped child to June, her biological mother.

To really see that moment in the end after all the impactful things that happened to Serena this season, like Eden’s execution, losing her finger, and the beating, as well,” Strahovski says. “There were so many pivotal moments that, I think, contribute to her making that decision in the very end.

The Season 2 finale left Serena in a precarious position going into Season 3, living in a household with an abusive husband and without a child, and Strahovski isn’t convinced their marriage can recover from the blows it took in the last few episodes.

I don’t know if that relationship is redeemable,” Strahovski says. “It would be interesting if it was, but in the same way, I didn’t know if Serena was redeemable after something like the rape scene.

Also up in the air is the reunion of Serena and Offred, who is set to return to the Waterford household sans-child — a situation Strahovski doubts Serena will take in stride.

I can’t imagine that going down very well,” Strahovski says. “I don’t think Serena’s gonna be like, ‘Great! Well done.’ Who else does she trust with that baby? There’s no one else who is going to protect that baby in the way that she knows Offred would.

Source: variety.com