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Interview: Joseph Fiennes on His Evil, Weak Commander Fred Waterford in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Joseph Fiennes got his breakout role more than two decades ago as the title character in the Oscar-winning Best Picture Shakespeare in Love. Since then, he has appeared in numerous films and television series. For the past three seasons, he has played Commander Fred Waterford, one of the primary antagonists on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, who frequently exerts his cruel, dominant male authority over his wife and his handmaid.

Awards Radar had the chance to speak with Fiennes and dive into his portrayal Fred and how he views his character’s rocky relationship with his onscreen wife, Serena, played by Yvonne Strahovski. When we asked him if he thought Fred and Serena were redeemable, here’s what he had to say:

“Is any human redeemable? We hope so. We have a justice system, and we’d like to think so…for Fred, he fulfills this pathology that a lot of predators might do, which is to rationalize events to suit their own narrative and end up twisting the truth to put the victim down, and to make the victim seem like they participated equally in the act. That’s what makes Fred evil. It’s a human aspect – we all rationalize to a degree, but not obviously in terms of the crimes Fred has enacted. I find that fascinating, and it’s who Fred is. It’s part of being a predator. And it’s part of the PR guru in Fred. Is it about the cause? Is it really about Gilead for Fred, or is it really about personal power? He’s an incredibly weak man, and I think he’s threatened by the people that he wants close to him who are powerful, strong women with great voices. He feels threatened by their voices and at the same time enamored by them. He’s a complex guy. Is he redeemable? I hope so. I hope they are. But I think he’s someone that you give him the regime, and the predator will reemerge.”

Watch our full chat below:

The fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale premiered on Hulu on April 28th, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday.

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