Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches. The Handmaid’s Tale may be dark, gritty and downright harrowing to watch — but the first meeting between the four main stars was anything but.
“We just drank, I don’t remember!” Samira Wiley exclusively tells Us Weekly. “To be honest, it was our first time hanging out and I remember Max and I had a conversation about The Bachelor. I do remember that.”
Wiley, 30, plays Moira in the Emmy award-winning Hulu series. Once she booked the role, she and costars Elisabeth Moss, Max Minghella and O-T Fagbenle got to know one another outside the Gilead world.
“It wasn’t like we were having a super intense conversation about the show. We talked about The Bachelor,” Wiley recalls, laughing about their night out. “I think I was talking about wanting to get married one day, which is crazy because it happened not too long after that.”
The actress, who married TV writer-producer Lauren Morelli in March, didn’t read Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name before auditioning — and she has no regrets. “I read the book when we started shooting but I hadn’t actually read the book before I booked the part. I was unfamiliar with Margaret and I was actually happy that I wasn’t familiar because there were so many people that put so much pressure on me. I think I even had somebody tell me, ‘If you mess this up I’ll kill you.’ I didn’t need that added pressure on me!”
Indeed, after all — what happened before her actual audition was stressful enough. “I remember I had a crazy day. I had just lost my passport and I had to go to Canada the next day and I had to do this audition in the middle of it. I remember being so flustered,” the Orange Is the New Black star recalls. “I was worried about the passport situation so I wasn’t so much in my head [and jittery] about the scene. So it actually was beneficial [for me].”
Saying that Wiley’s character went through a lot in season 1 would be an understatement. Moira and her friend June (Moss) are stripped of their rights by the government and, like all other fertile women, are forced to bear children for those unable to under the Republic of Gilead. Moira later is sent to work as a prostitute in the secret brothel Jezebel’s before she eventually escapes and crosses over into Ontario. There, she reunites with June’s husband Luke (Fagbenle) who is still looking for the couple’s daughter, Hannah.
June, meanwhile, strikes up a romantic relationship with Nick (Minghella), an Eye in the Waterford household, and becomes pregnant. In the final scene, she is taken away by a black van for possible punishment as he whispers to her: “Just go with it. Trust me.”
Clearly, there is more story to tell — and Wiley has some ideas. “[Moira’s] partner, Odette, has been sent to the Colonies, and that’s usually where people are sent to die. But in a perfect world I would want them to be reunited and for them to live in the same house or down the street from June, Luke and Hannah and all families to be intact,” Wiley tells Us of what she hopes her endgame will be. “But actually now that I’m talking about it — June also has Nick. She’s having a baby with him. This is all so confusing. Maybe all of us can live in the same house.”
As for if she’s Team Nick or Luke? “Oh my gosh! I can’t be anything but Team Luke! I think Moira is team Luke but Samira might be a little Team Nick,” she says. “I think [June is] a little bit in love with Nick. I do. But I also think that she just really misses Luke.”
For more, read the rest of her Q&A below:
US: What’s it like to go from a prisoner in Orange Is the New Black to a police office in Ryan Hansen Solves Crime On Television?
SW: When I think about the character Poussey she’s the actual criminal and the one in jail. But she’s so soft and has such a wonderful energy to her. And then when I think about Jessica Mathers — she’s the cop. She’s so hard. It’s so interesting that flip to me. I love being on the other side now. I think as a prisoner I did my time. [Laughs]
US: You’ve done Netflix, Hulu and now YouTube Red. Are you more drawn to streaming services and how they roll out there material?
SW: I think maybe I am. I didn’t think it was a conscious choice but maybe it’s definitely subconscious. I think that platforms like YouTube really help the creators have the kind of show they really want to have. They allow real creative control from the people that are making the show and that’s the kind of show that I like to be involved in.
US: What does it feel like to be a part of such a powerful show like The Handmaid’s Tale? Does it feel too close to home with the current political climate sometimes?
SW: Yeah, I think in the scenes where we are presently in Gilead it’s hard to make those, which I’m happy about. It is hard to make those scenes because they are so far away from where we are. But in some of the flashback scenes — subtle things are happening like they go to the store and women’s credit cards for some reason stop working. Those scenes — they still feel far away but it’s like, ‘Oh God, what if this did happen?’ So in the flashback scenes is where it hits close to home.
US: How do you and the cast keep it light on set in-between the heavy scenes?
SW: Sometimes it’s easier for me to try to stay in it from scene to scene depending on the content. We play games all the time — We always have a game going during shooting. Specifically at the end of the day we like to have super light conversations. [Laughs] There is a cookie tray that comes around that really gives us a lot of joy. At a certain time of the day they bring cookies around. I’m telling you, it’s like Sesame Street. It’s great.
US: What memorabilia will you take once the show ends?
SW: There’s the ear tag that we have to wear. They pierce our ears with these tags. They all have individual numbers on them. And you can’t really see the numbers when you’re watching because they are so small. So I would take that.
US: You’ve had an amazing couple of years. Have you had that moment yet of, ‘Wow, I made it.’? Or as an actor do you feel like it’s always about reaching for more?
SW: That’s a really good question. I do feel like I have more to go in terms of what I want to accomplish. I don’t feel satisfied like, ‘Oh, right. I did it.’ [Laughs] But I also do feel on some levels like, ‘Yes, I have made it. Whatever that it is.’ I’ve made some of it just because of looking back over my life and all the things I’m involved in. People back home can see me on television and I have people looking up to me like my nieces and nephews. In that sense, OK, I feel like yeah, ‘Look guys, look what I’ve done. You can do it too.’”
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