‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Cast, Creator Talk Season 2 in #MeToo Era, Expanding Gilead

Following its debut on Hulu last year, “The Handmaid’s Tale” quickly became a part of the narrative for women’s rights and gender equality. Now, in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the show’s second season is once again drawing comparisons to today’s headlines.

Star Elisabeth Moss told Variety at the “Handmaid’s” premiere on Thursday that the new season is “so much about what it means to resist this year — so much about female empowerment but also women banding together and what happens when you split them apart. I think that’s a very relevant issue right now.”

Moss, coming off a best actress Emmy win for her portrayal of Offred, now June, said that when the show resumes, “Offred is disappearing, Offred is fading, and there’s a new June coming, not the June from the flashbacks, the June that will be in Gilead and post-Gilead. It’s a fighter but also someone who’s been through quite a bit.”

Joseph Fiennes, who plays Commander Waterford on the show, echoed thoughts on its current cultural relevance, saying, “I think the conversations since the book came out over 30 years ago, are much needed feminist conversations, and now with Time’s Up and #MeToo there’s a great momentum that we’ve kind of converged with.”

He added, “Our show is about resistance, in particular Offred, and we see a lot of resistance in today’s world, a lot of brave, strong women coming together in unison, so I look at our show and think how wonderful that there’s a heroine that’s inspiring on that level too.”

Moss and Fiennes were alongside their costars Samira Wiley, Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Max Minghella and O-T Fagbenle at the premiere, held at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre.

Season 2 will see the “Handmaid’s Tale” expand outside the world of Gilead to the Colonies, a radioactive wasteland where criminals of the new government are sent. Emily (played by Bledel) and Janine (played by Brewer) find themselves here when the show resumes, and Brewer says “it’s not looking like sunshine and flowers.”

“(The show) reaches a level this season with the Colonies where you didn’t think it could get any more inhumane, and then you look at the way these women live here and it’s unconscionable,” the actress said. “One of my favorite parts of it is that you’re looking at the colonies and they’re these gorgeous green lush rolling hills and corn fields, and then you put it under a microscope and you see that women are losing their hair and their teeth and their skin is coming off and they’re dying every day and that’s kind of like Gilead. You see it with a wide lens and you’re like ‘Oh my god, what a pleasant community.'”

After season 1 fully covered Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, Season 2 will dive into uncharted territory and a fresh continuation of the story. Executive producer Bruce Miller said he wasn’t intimidated by adding onto Atwood’s world though because “it doesn’t seem like we’re moving away from the novel, just beyond.”

“We got so much encouragement from Margaret to do exciting interesting things, she was as thrilled as anybody,” Miller said. “Also the book is a cliffhanger, I’ve been thinking for 30 years what happens in season 2.”

Inside the show’s screening, the entire cast took the stage while Moss, who also serves as a producer, led a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Miller’s son. “That was the last bit of joy you’ll get from this evening, so enjoy,” she joked.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” returns to Hulu on April 25.

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