Interview: Actress Ann Dowd Talks Aunt Lydia’s Complexity In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Ann Dowd is a fascinating character actress who’s responsible for turning in compelling performances in film and television. She’s taken on complex roles in critically acclaimed shows like The Leftovers as faction leader Patti Levin and Sister Margarita in the Australian series Lambs of God.

In 2017, Dowd stepped into the formidable role of Aunt Lydia Clements in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Aunt Lydia is a bible-spouting woman who often preaches at and teaches the handmaids their purpose under Gilead. Throughout the series, Aunt Lydia consistently thinks of herself as a maternal figure in the handmaids’ lives, but ultimately, has a hand in the girls’ oppression under Gilead as she keeps them in line, sometimes by force. 

She’s a morally complex character doing whatever that’s asked of her to survive. For Dowd, she leaves any judgment she may have for Lydia at the door, “When we do things in our lives, we either are doing what we feel is right or we’re convincing ourselves that what we’re doing is right,” said Dowd. “From the outside, one might say, ‘c’mon, lady!’ But not from her perspective, [her perspective is] ‘look, it’s either this girls, or you die, so what do you want? Let’s get real here. Gilead is powerful, and the men are in charge, so here’s how we’re going to get the job done.'”

Awards Radar spoke with Ann Dowd about taking on a character like Aunt Lydia and going toe to toe with Elisabeth Moss’ June. Watch our chat below!

The fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale premieres on Hulu on April 28th


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