Hulu’s timely adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale is proving profoundly resonant for women living in Trump’s America. So resonant that even Elisabeth Moss —who plays protagonist Offred — feels her character represents the women in her country at this time.
In an interview on BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour, Moss said that of all the roles she’s ever played, Offred is “nearest to Elisabeth.”
“Being Offred. That’s who I would be if there was a Gilead. Most likely I’d be a Handmaid,” said Moss.
“I feel that she represents women in my country at this time. I’m one of those women,” Moss continued. Moss added that she feels a personal connection to Offred; one that’s different to other roles she’s played.
The series — which recently hit UK screens — tells the story of a patriarchal dystopia; a theocratic, totalitarian version of the United States where women are forced to bear children for leaders and their wives. In the Republic of Gilead, women’s bank accounts are frozen, they are forbidden from working, categorised on their utility as child-bearers and sent to re-education camps.
Moss spoke to Radio Four’s Jenni Murray about the show’s impact in the U.S., where the Handmaid costume has become a powerful symbol of the Resistance. “I think that something like this [series] gives people a voice. I think that a lot of people in my country feel they don’t have one. They definitely don’t feel like they’re being heard,” said Moss, adding that the series reflects “what we’re worried about, what’s on our minds.”
She says Offred is a woman who will not give up, someone who chooses to fight and “not lose her mind.”
The series has inspired protests across the U.S. — most notably in Texas last month where 18 women dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets, stood in pairs in the rotunda of the Texas state capitol, calling out “Shame!” in unison.
Moss spoke to Murray about the symbolism of the iconic Handmaid’s uniform saying: “This Handmaid, this bonnet has become an iconic symbol of where we don’t want to go.”