Yvonne Strahovski talks about playing all the nasty 'B' words contained in her 'Handmaid's Tale' character

The sixth episode of Hulu’s celebrated series “The Handmaid’s Tale” dropped this week and, finally, we were given some information about the lives of the Commander and his wife, Serena Joy, pre-Gilead.

And it was pretty clear from what we saw that Serena Joy had a lot more going on than her husband and, in fact, might be rightly viewed as the architect of a society that eventually would have no place for her as a leader.

Yvonne Strahovski, the Australian actress who has done such a fine job of bringing some empathy and humanity to one of the show’s primary villains, stopped by The Times recently for a video interview, talking about what a trip it was to go back in time with the character.

“It felt like we weren’t part of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ production any more,” Strahovski says. “It felt like such a leap to go into imagining what Serena Joy might have been like pre-Gilead. I spent so much time investing in this brittle, bitter, brutal — all the ‘B’ words, the nasty ‘B’ words, and there’s one more — investing so much of that into present-day Serena that the leap felt very huge going back into time.”

The episode’s most pointed line came when the Mexican ambassador asked Serena Joy — the author of a treatise on “domestic feminism” titled “A Woman’s Place” — what it was like to live in a society in which women were no longer allowed to read her book.

“What makes it complicated for Serena is that she is one of the people who wanted it to be this way,” Strahovski says. “Like with any movement, there was some pure, good integrity behind what she was trying to do. But somewhere along the line in constructing this new society, she lost her own voice as a woman and was told to step out of the room. You don’t have a voice any more. You’re not allowed to speak.”

Strahovski also spoke about what to expect in the season’s final four episodes and how watching Lena Dunham’s “Girls” was the perfect palate cleanser to playing Serena Joy.

You can watch the full interview here. Blessed be the fruit.

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glenn.whipp@latimes.com

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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