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In February of this year, a novel from 1985, by a Canadian author now 77, shot right to the top of the bestsellers lists. Though popular for decades, The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s chilling vision of a near-future dystopia in what was once New England—where a toxic environment, a cruel theocracy, and a plague of infertility have turned a sector of women into enslaved concubines—suddenly seemed all too timely. It was then that a trailer for the book’s upcoming TV adaptation aired during the Super Bowl, just a couple of weeks after Donald Trump was inaugurated and a nationwide spread of marches for women’s rights turned into the largest protest in American history.
Atwood did not seem upset by the sudden renewal of interest in the single most enduring work of her back catalogue, despite the fact that she’s still churning out book after book today. “How could I be?” she said on a recent morning in Washington, D.C., in the historic Hay-Adams hotel not even a block away from the White House. “But on the other hand, the circumstances that have given rise to it having this sudden uptick are quite frightening. If I had a choice of two things—book not popular, circumstances not arise, or book popular, due to certain circumstances—I would of course pick the first one. But those were not my choices.”
Right alongside her book on the current bestseller lists is another prescient dystopian vision, George Orwell’s 1984—which happened to be the year that Atwood started writing The Handmaid’s Tale on legal pads and a beat-up typewriter in West Berlin, punctuated by echoing reminders of the East German Air Force. It was not her first experience with political unrest. Born in 1939, which, as Atwood is wont to remind, “takes me all the way through World War II,” she seems to consider her “deep background in dystopias,” accumulated both in history books at Harvard and on the ground in places like Afghanistan, tantamount to her destiny.

Atwood grew up in Canada on a steady diet of dystopian novels like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which HBO will be making into another all-too-timely TV adaptation. Eventually, in her forties, Atwood decided to try her hand at writing one herself. She wanted to locate what she calls her “speculative fiction” in the real world; everything in the book, she decided beforehand, had to be something that humans had done at some point throughout history, meaning her primary sources were newspaper clippings and texts like the Bible. Humanity didn’t let her down—the world she built out of existing histories was chilling enough that the book, which has been translated into over 40 languages, has reportedly never gone out of print, a staple of both high school syllabi and banned-books lists alike.
Among her young readers was Elisabeth Moss, the 34-year-old actress who was first struck by the novel, which she now calls her favorite book, as a teen, and who plays the protagonist in Hulu’s 10-episode adaptation, which premieres on April 26. (The first three episodes will be available immediately, with one each week to follow.)

Full article: wmagazine.com

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Yvonne Strahovski is no stranger to the screen. The 34-year-old Australian actress has starred in critically-acclaimed films, voiced video games, and appeared in five seasons of the NBC hit series, Chuck. Now, Strahovski is ready to take on a new role; that of Serena Joy in Hulu’s new series, The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Handmaid’s Tale, based off of the original novel by Margaret Atwood, chronicles a dystopic society called the Republic of Gilead. Ruled under a theocratic dictatorship, women have few human rights and live under constant supervision by a secret police, known as the Eyes of God.

We chatted with Yvonne on the upcoming series The Handmaid’s Tale which premieres April 26th on Hulu.

Can you describe your character, Serena Joy?
Serena Joy is a complicated woman. She is extremely harsh, hard, unapproachable, unfair. BUT – I am biased. I had to sit with this woman who on paper is one of the ‘bad guys’ and try to figure her heart out. Why is she the way she is? I see a woman who has been stripped of her own personal identity, as a human, and as a woman. I see a woman who had a part of her connection to her husband taken away from her. I see a woman stripped of sexuality, and dignity. And I see why she is as closed and harsh as she has become. What makes it complicated, is that she was part of the equation in CREATING this world for herself. She was one of the people who believed in this new world of Gilead. Which makes me ask the very hard questions like – what woman would agree to partake in such a ‘religious ceremony’ where you watch your husband fuck another woman in front of you, because you yourself have been deemed barren? So I ask myself, at which point did Serena Joy no longer have a say in what her, and her fellow women’s rights would be in this new world? So many heavy questions like that craft Serena. I don’t even think I got to the bottom of some of these questions. There are so many.

Are there any similarities between you and Serena Joy?
Haaaa NO!!! I mean, I hope not 🙂 I found it pretty hard to play her. There’s a lack of empathy that Serena Joy has within her that I REALLY struggle to relate to.

How does this role differ from previous work you have done?
I think this is probably the most bitter character I have ever played. The closest I came to this kind of bitterness was when doing Broadway and playing Lorna Moon in Golden Boy. But there was a certain hopelessness to Lorna, a certain naiveté. An innocence almost. That is not the case with Serena Joy. She is calculating and manipulative. But again, I am biased – and I see where her manipulation comes from – she too, has to survive in this oppressive society. She might be at the top of the food chain when it comes to women in Gilead, but she sure as hell has a cage built around her. Even if she did build a large part of it herself. Not that any of this makes her actions okay.

What statement is The Handmaid’s Tale making?
How ugly we can be as a human society. How far can you take justifying horrid human actions. How far can we go with inequality and power and the impact it has on all of us. How far will we go in the face of adversity to still try to connect with each other. What are our core fundamental human needs, when all else has been stripped away from you.

 

Full interview: pulsespikes.com

Hello. I added to the gallery first still from the TV Series The Handmaid’s Tale. Enjoy!

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