Here’s why Joseph Fiennes refused to film a brutal scene with his on-screen wife in The Handmaid’s Tale
As the tyrannical and predatory Commander Fred Waterford, Joseph Fiennes has spent two seasons brutally tormenting women in the fascinatingly dark Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, which airs in the UK on Channel 4.
Commander Waterford is a founding father and powerful, high-ranking official in the state of Gilead - a conservative dystopia in the US where young women serve as sexual slaves to men, based on the 1985 novel by author Margaret Atwood.
He also rules the household where Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a handmaid. Basically, he’s a douche.
Fans of the show will be aware of just how bleak the story lines can be but the Shakespeare in Love star, 48, has revealed that there was one scene that he found too dark and twisted even by the standards of his deplorable character Waterford.
During a recent conversation with EW, Fiennes revealed that his character was originally supposed to rape his wife, Serena (Yvonne Strahovski), while the couple were across the Gilead-Canada border on a diplomatic visit… but he simply refused to carry out the scene.
“I guess in many ways, as abhorrent and nasty and evil as Fred is, I have to defend parts of him,” the actor said. “In episode 9, we had a moment where Fred was going to rape — after meeting Luke — rape Serena in a hotel room straight after, and it just didn’t track for me. I had to go out on a limb and refuse to do it because I felt that even though Fred is who he is, he’s human.”
Fiennes made his case with “long emails and defending and pushing, and feeling that Yvonne had tracked Serena so beautifully that her disenfranchisement with the regime and Fred was so beautifully charted it didn’t need a heavy scene to kind of suddenly push her over the edge.”
You can listen to the full chat here…
The Emmy-winning drama has been renewed for a third season, which will likely air in 2019. We’ll be there.
(Images: Hulu / The Handmaid’s Tale / Getty)