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Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale premiered on Hulu in April 2018. As the show welcomes new faces and storylines that go beyond Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian classic, here’s a look at what some of the characters look like in and out of Gilead. (Minor season two spoilers, ahead.)
The role of Offred (June Osbourne) earned Moss several awards following season one, including the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Television Series Drama and the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Heading into season two, Moss tells TV Insider that finding the real meaning of freedom is a large part of June’s story. “Maybe you have to find it in unexpected ways. What is the resistance? Perhaps it’s not what you thought it would be. Sometimes, rather than run away from something, you have to change it from the inside.”
To the delight of Alexis Bledel fans, Emily’s story is not over. Season two’s powerful second episode, “Unwomen,” finds Bledel’s character in the Colonies, a radioactive wasteland where women literally go to die. Diehard Gilmore Girls fans won’t find Luke’s or the comfort of Lorelai or Emily Gilmore here. If you’ve ever wanted to imagine what the opposite of Stars Hollow was, the Colonies is a safe bet.
Not long after her work on Orange Is the New Black ended, Wiley stepped into the now-familiar red Handmaid cloak in 2017 to take on the role of Moira, June’s BFF who successfully escapes Gilead and makes it to Canada, where she’s reunited with June’s husband, Luke. “In Toronto, Canada, where she’s escaped, we’ll see not only the strong Moira that we’ve become so used to but also a person who is trying to acclimate to this new world,” Wiley tells The Huffington Post. “She goes through different struggles in Canada, and I think it’s very important and interesting to explore all of those sides of this woman.”
Brewer also made the journey from Litchfield to Gilead to portray Janine, who suffered a myriad of tragedies on season one: she lost one eye; she gave birth and gave her child to the Putnams as per Gilead rule; she was on the verge of getting stoned by her fellow Handmaids. On season two, Janine is in the Colonies with Emily. Things look bleak.
For more than three decades, Dowd has graced audiences with her talents on stage, TV sets, and movie screens. Her vast resume includes Law & Order, The X-Files, NYPD Blue, The Leftovers, and films like The Manchurian Candidate, Marley & Me, Captain Fantastic, and Collateral Beauty. Following season one of The Handmaid’s Tale, Dowd won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for playing Aunt Lydia. “Well, I think this is a dream,” she said in her acceptance speech. “I know it’s an actor’s dream and I’m deeply grateful to you. I don’t have the words, so I thank you.”
Minghella, son of the late director Anthony Minghella, has appeared in films like The Social Network, The Internship, and episodes of The Mindy Project playing Danny Castellano’s brother Richie. In a 2017 Interview feature, Minghella said his decision to join The Handmaid’s Tale had a lot to do with the female-centric cast. “I find women more interesting to watch on a lot of levels, and I like the idea of being involved with something I would watch.”
Before The Handmaid’s Tale, Strahovski had small roles in movies like The Guilt Trip (with Seth Rogen), I, Frankenstein, and All I See Is You (with Blake Lively). On the TV front, the Australian actress appeared in more than 90 episodes of the NBC series Chuck and later, two seasons of Dexter. In an interview with Cosmopolitan.com, Strahovski opened up about how she read Serena’s emotions on the Hulu series. “I think the anger is coming from an unidentified regret, a regret that hasn’t been realized into consciousness. I think it comes from the fact that she feels stripped of her identity, ironically from her femininity as well, despite what she was rooting for to begin with.”
Fiennes entered Gilead as a seasoned stage, movie, and TV actor, appearing in notable films like Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, and the second season of American Horror Story, playing Monsignor Timothy Howard in Asylum.
Before taking the lead Martha role on The Handmaid’s Tale, Brugel, who hails from Canada, appeared on episodes of Nikita, Orphan Black, and the CBC sitcom Kim’s Convenience. “It has been such a part of my DNA,” Brugel told Hello! of bringing Margaret Atwood’s story to life. “She’s such a brilliant writer and has a brilliant mind. She doesn’t know it, but she’s my best friend!”
June’s husband is played by the London-born actor, who’s no stranger to picking up and moving to a totally different country. (Of course, the circumstances were the complete opposite of Gilead.) In an interview with RadioTimes, Fagbenle revealed that he and his family have lived everywhere from Nigeria to Canada to Spain. “We had a map and we started choosing our favorite places,” he said.
Way made her Handmaid’s Tale debut on season one, episode seven (“The Other Side”), when Luke gets picked up by a resistance group bound for Canada. Way plays Erin, a former handmaid who escaped but stopped talking in wake of the trauma. Out of the group, she and Luke are the only ones who make it to Canada alive and currently live in “Little America” in Toronto. Prior to joining the show, Way appeared on episodes of Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, The Mentalist, and NCIS: Los Angeles. She also had a recurring role on the sci-fi series Colony, playing the tutor Lindsey.
When she’s not playing Chase Stein’s mom Jane on Marvel’s Runaways, Carradine can be found wearing a dark green dress as Naomi, a Wife who became a mother on The Handmaid’s Tale season one via Janine’s baby. “I love watching the show. It’s the only show I’ve ever been on where when I’m on set, I actively think, how can I help Offred escape Gilead?” she told KTLA in January 2018. “I can’t separate reality from fiction.”
The veteran theater actor perfected his craft at Juilliard, which is probably why his portrayal of Commander Putnam is so bone-chillingly good. On season one, episode 10, “Night,” Putnam’s left arm is amputated as punishment for having an affair with Janine and leading her to believe he was going to leave his wife for her. Allegedly.
Kiri, who was born in Serbia and grew up in Canada, revealed in 2017 that she originally thought Ofrobert (Alma) would only be in a couple of episodes. Flash forward to the season two premiere: Ofrobert is the first to get punishment from Aunt Lydia for refusing to stone Janine last season. In a gory scene, Ofrobert’s hand is cuffed to a stovetop. You can guess what happens next.
On season one of The Handmaid’s Tale, Jones is the second Ofglen, replacing Emily. When the Handmaids are forced to stone Janine to death, Ofglen #2 is the first to speak up and question Aunt Lydia’s command. “Seriously? Guys, this is insane,” she says, before getting knocked in the face by a Guardian. In Canada, Jones is no stranger to viewers at home thanks to her work on the western series Strange Empire and the crime drama 19-2. Most recently, Jones played an FBI agent the USA Network crime show Eyewitness.
Following episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Blue Bloods, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Guevara left the crime drama world and headed to Gotham. No really — over two seasons, she starred as police captain Sarah Essen on Fox’s Gotham. In 2017, she appeared on The Handmaid’s Tale as Mexican ambassador Castillo, who arrives in Gilead to talk trade of Handmaids in wake of her own country’s shortage of babies.
If you thought Mr. Flores – an assistant to the Mexican ambassador – looked familiar, chances are you’ve seen him on Modern Family (he was Pepper’s assistant-turned-boyfriend Ronaldo and he always had great hair). On season one of The Handmaid’s Tale, Mr. Flores is the first to tell June that Luke is alive. He later helps June deliver a message to Luke in Canada: “I love you so much. Save Hannah.”
The Toronto-born actress plays a Martha who works at Jezebel’s and occasionally trades with Nick for drugs that the Jezebels use after being with Commanders and other officials. Gutoskie has appeared on several Canadian and American TV shows, including the cop drama Rookie Blue and The Vampire Diaries. In late-2017, she joined the second season of Fox’s TV adaptation of Lethal Weapon, playing Molly.
Prior to making routine pre-Ceremony checkups in Gilead, Bruun enjoyed a lengthy stay on Orphan Black, playing Allison’s husband and monitor Donnie Hendrix. On his Handmaid episode, Brunn plays the doctor who offers his sperm to Offred because it’s that obvious that the Commander’s sperm is inept. She kindly refuses and eventually Nick impregnates her.
A graduate of NYU’s Tisch Graduate Acting Class, Gilmore played Zoe, a rebel who saves Luke and gives him antibiotics for his gunshot would on season one, episode seven (“The Other Side”). On the same episode, Zoe puts Luke in his place: to prove why he can’t stay in Gilead looking for his family, she shows him a church full of people were hanged to death. The scene inspires him to leave for Canada.
Lynch is a seasoned character actor who’s appeared on films like Shutter Island, Gran Torino, and Zodiac. He’s also been the face of Twisty the Clown on American Horror Story (Freak Show and Cult). On The Handmaid’s Tale, Lynch plays Dan, Emily’s college boss who tries to warn her about her “lifestyle” and advises her to change the home screen (a photo of her wife and their kid) on her phone.
The only problem with Tomei’s guest-starring role as Mrs. O’Conner, a Wife who is sent to the Colonies for committing “a sin of the flesh,” is that she did not get enough screen time. Here’s hoping that the actress, who rarely appears on TV these days (she was on Empire in 2015 before this), at least returns to THT in flashbacks.
DuVall, who most recently blessed the world with the role of Marjorie on Veep (returning in 2019, FYI), joins season two of THT as Sylvia, the Canadian wife of Emily before Gilead fully took shape. In a heartbreaking season two, episode two scene, the couple are separated at the border as Sylvia and their young son board a plane for Canada. Emily, an American, is forced to stay behind after an uncomfortable questioning period concerning her reproductive parts.
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