The day after Politico published a story indicating the likely impending overturn of Roe v. Wade, printing Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion, star Elisabeth Moss was on set in Toronto, in the midst of production on The Handmaid’s Tale’s fifth season. The show began trending on Twitter as she and her cast and crew again immersed themselves in the world of Margaret Atwood’s Gilead, where women’s reproductive rights are completely subjugated. Moss, also an executive producer and director on the Hulu series, addressed her team with only a few words: “I said, ‘All right, let’s get to work.’”
In next week’s interview episode of Little Gold Men, Moss discusses what it’s been like to continue filming Handmaid’s—a series which emerged directly from the post-2016 haze as an enduring cultural symbol of resistance and gender inequality—in yet another moment of chilling parallel. “It was a bit somber on set when we first started [after the leak], but you have to sort of get to work and do the day,” the Emmy winner says. “It’s always a weird thing for us. It’s not a pleasant thing. It’s not something that gets us excited, when there are these parallels and when your character is used as an example of something that’s happening in real life. It’s not anything we take any pleasure in at all.”
The show turned a narrative corner in its fourth season as Moss’s June escaped Gilead for Canada, and in the brutal finale, participated in the killing of her former guardian, rapist, and tormentor, Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes). Moss has said the fifth season will examine what freedom looks like in the aftermath of trauma and vengeance. “It does make us happy and proud that we are doing a show that we feel is relevant, that we’re doing a show that we feel says things that need to be said,” Moss adds. “I wish it would stop being so damn relevant, though. I’ll tell you that much.”
Moss says that she and her collaborators found creative fuel in working on their show, as it was abruptly thrust back into the national conversation. Atwood herself penned an essay for The Guardian over the weekend denouncing the pending Supreme Court decision, declaring that “enforced childbirth is slavery.”
“It does feel gratifying to be making something that you feel like is saying something that perhaps people should be listening to right now, but I also think that our relevancy is all due to Margaret Atwood,” Moss says. “The book that she wrote in 1985, which was a while ago now, remains relevant and remains important. We owe a lot of that to her. She has talked about how history is cyclical and she has talked about how these things repeat themselves. And that’s very, very true.”
Stay tuned for our full conversation with Moss, premiering May 17, where we also discuss her acclaimed new Apple TV+ series, Shining Girls.