At the start of Hulu’s intense, devastating adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) is presented as a cruel monster, the wife of Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) who takes a sick pleasure in abusing her handmaid June (Elisabeth Moss). But as the show has evolved, Serena’s actions and motives have changed, and it’s been a complicated and fascinating journey to watch as portrayed by the very talented Strahovski.
Awards Radar had the chance to speak with Strahovksi, who offered a somewhat understanding assessment of why Serena is the way she is:
“Truly, I think everything about her is survival. The fact that everything is about survival very much clouds what she is genuinely thinking and feeling. I think there’s a lot of acting out of emotion, which is so heightened because you’re in survival mode. I’ve said this from the very beginning: most, if not all, of these characters in the Gilead setting are in survival mode. Everything that you do is heightened. Everything that you’re worried about, everything that triggers you, every trauma that you go through, you can’t make a move without the stakes being so high. From the very beginning, I thought that Serena, while near the food chain in Gilead, I still think she’s in survival mode. She’s got to get through what she set up for herself, and all the things she’s endured in her own way as well.”
She also shared her expectations of audiences that haven’t entirely been met:
“Mostly, I’ve been surprised by people, running into fans of the show or getting recognized as Serena in the show and thinking, are people going to hate me, the person, and think that I’m her? I am her, but not. People have been so lovely! That has been a little bit surprising. I don’t know why, but I think I expected people to not be so nice after watching Serena Joy.”
Watch the full conversation below.
Seasons one through five of The Handmaid’s Tale are available to stream on Hulu.