How was it to juggle duties both in front of and behind the camera while dealing with such dark material?
I worked more on this show than I’ve ever worked on anything. It was a 24-hour job for many, many, many months. I didn’t work on it when I was sleeping, but I woke up thinking about it. So when people say, “Oh my God, it was such dark material — was it a dark thing to film?” I say, “No, because you don’t have time for that.”
Four out of the five directors on “The Handmaid’s Tale” were women. How important was a female director to setting the tone?
It was not only important for setting the tone of the show, but we all believe that it is incredibly important to hire women behind the camera. There’s a huge imbalance that needs to be corrected, and we’ve got to put our money where our mouth is and set that example as producers. If we don’t do it, who will?
You received pushback for stating at the Tribeca Film Festival in April that “The Handmaid’s Tale” was not a feminist story but rather a human story.
That was my mistake in the sense that I should have been much clearer. What I should have said is that it is not only a feminist story but it is also a human story. Obviously it is first and foremost a feminist story. I play a woman who has had her child and her family taken away from her, and all of her rights as a woman stripped and who is essentially a prisoner. But I was trying to say that it was also a human story in the sense that there are other groups — other races, colors and creeds — who are punished and maligned and are not given the right to be heard as well.
The handmaid’s uniform — crimson robes and white bonnets — has become a symbol of oppression at women’s rights protests.
I feel a huge sense of pride toward those women. These women are out there on the front lines, going to the places where the laws and the legislation are actually being decided. They’re taking risks, and they’re exercising their right to protest, and they are the true heroes.
How has it felt to be part of the political conversation this year?
We never knew that it was going to be this relevant. I think we definitely would prefer it not to be. We’d prefer it to be this crazy fantasy, this world that you couldn’t possibly imagine ever happening. And instead it has become a cautionary tale that is far too close to home.
Do you have any favorite Emmy nominees?
Oh, gosh, I’m a huge fan of “The Crown.” “Fargo” is probably my favorite drama. And “Veep” is my favorite show of all time. I’m excited to meet Tony Hale [Gary Walsh on “Veep”], who I just think is incredible.