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How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Yvonne Strahovski Made ‘Ice Queen’ Serena Sympathetic

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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

Listen: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’s’ Yvonne Strahovski on Serena as Victim or Villain

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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

Emmy Nominee Yvonne Strahovski Travels to Grand Canyon and Calls for Permanent Protection

   

FLAGSTAFF, AZ – Actress Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) joined a Sierra Club Outing to Grand Canyon region this weekend with her husband, actor Tim Loden, to experience the wonder of Arizona’s immense national park and to see first-hand the need to permanently protect it.

I want my child to be able to explore the wonders of Grand Canyon without the threat of toxic uranium pollution nearby,” said Strahovski, who is currently pregnant with her first child. “Being out in the wild had a profound impact on my upbringing and helped form who I am today. These majestic places should be protected and accessible to everyone.

An avid outdoorswoman, Strahovski is a Sierra Club Ambassador who grew up in Australia spending considerable time in the wild climbing, canyoning, and caving. Two years ago, she vowed to reconnect with nature and has been traveling extensively throughout the U.S. exploring our national parks and public lands, which she often documents on her personal Instagram account.

Right now, attempts are underway to allow dangerous uranium and other mining on the public lands surrounding Grand Canyon. There are temporary protections in place that need to be made permanent in order to protect surrounding communities and waterways from radioactive contamination. Our public lands should be protected for public enjoyment and recreation, not sold off to the dirty energy industry.

Grand Canyon is the crown jewel of America’s national park system. It is vital to the economy, supports jobs and provides an outdoor experience and connection to nature unlike any other. To learn more about the Sierra Club and its work to protect Grand Canyon and other national parks and monuments, please visit SierraClub.org/OurWildAmerica.

Source: sierraclub.org

The Handmaid’s Tale Star Yvonne Strahovski Gets Glam in FASHION Magazine

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Actress Yvonne Strahovski dazzles in red on the April 2018 cover of FASHION Magazine. Photographed by Max Abadian, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ star wears a lace Preen by Thornton Bregazzi dress and Salvatore Ferragamo swimsuit. Inside the glossy, Yvonne poses in fashion forward looks from the spring collections. Stylist Juliana Schiavinatto dresses the blonde beauty in designs from the likes of Coach, Valentino and Dior.

In her interview, Yvonne talks about surviving in the cut-throat entertainment business.

I think I have a pretty good handle on how to survive in this business, so much of it comes down to just being myself. It reminds me of the feminist movement that’s happening right now. It’s about being able to tell your stories and not having to be prim and proper. And it’s probably also because I’m getting older.

Source: fashiongonerogue.com

Yvonne for Jones magazine

   

When it was first announced that a TV series based on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was in the works, the reaction was fairly muted. After all, how much relevance could a dystopian novel from 1985 really have in April 2016? That same month, Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign and it looked as if, come January 2017, there might finally be a woman occupying the Oval Office.

Cut to a year later and the TV show made its April 2017 debut in a very different world – one where its themes about the oppression and exploitation of women were suddenly, startlingly pertinent again. In a year in which women united to march for their rights, to strike in solidarity and to call out harassment, The Handmaid’s Tale had clearly struck a chord.

The blood red robes and stiff white bonnets worn by the series’ main characters became symbolic of the restrictions placed on women’s freedom and autonomy, and the outfits became popular with protesters, most notably pro-choice activists concerned about proposed changes to abortion laws in the US. The robes and bonnets even made appearances in SNL sketches, at Halloween and on the runway – the oversized black bonnets featured in Vera Wang’s Spring 2018 collection were evidence of just how influential the show had become.

Embraced by the critics and showered with awards, the series was also a ratings juggernaut, so it came as no surprise when a second season was commissioned. All the main cast will return, including Australia’s own Yvonne Strahovski, who plays the spine-chilling Serena Joy. During a break from filming on the series’ Ontario, Canada set, Yvonne reflects on the show’s surprising success.

I remember feeling early on that this was going to make a mark in some way shape or form in the history of television, if only in terms of the performances that I was witnessing. It was palpable. But I didn’t realise the political and social impact it would have,” she says. “But, by the time Trump’s presidency started unfolding and as we got into the Women’s Marches, it became pretty clear that this was not your ordinary show, that we had accidentally started to reflect real life.

Playing one of the series’ antagonists proved challenging for Yvonne. “The first season, I felt like I was grappling with her ideology. I was almost resentful that I had to not judge her because I had to play her, to justify her actions and moral compass and her level of integrity,” she admits.

Her character, an anti-feminist villain and ruthless enforcer of the patriarchy, is married to Commander Fred (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking member of the government. Together, the couple enslave Offred (Elisabeth Moss), attempting to use her to give them a child, since Serena is infertile. But Serena is far from being a one-dimensional baddie. Yvonne’s portrayal of a desperate woman in an even-more-desperate situation oscillates between moments of tenderness and moments of pure brutality.

Full interview: davidjones.com.au

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