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Yvonne Strahovski > Magazine / Scans / E-Book > Glamour UK

If it wasn’t challenging enough to play an infertile wife, who has to appear on camera watching the ritualised rape of young women by her rich husband in order to bear children for her, imagine doing that while pregnant. The best actors in the world would struggle – Yvonne Strahovski included.

The 36-year-old Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress, who plays the menacing Serena Joy in the extraordinary The Handmaid’s Tale series – barren wife of Fred and mistress of Handmaid Offred – discovered she was pregnant with her first child just over half way through the filming of season two. Even now, despite the fact that her son is now nine months old, the memory of it is still quite affecting. “I really just didn’t want my character, my job, or anything to do with The Handmaid’s Tale infiltrating this baby inside of me,” the Australian star tells GLAMOUR exclusively.

“So, I was always envisioning him, growing inside of me, separate in this safety bubble that nothing could touch,” she says. “No matter what kind of emotion I was portraying on camera, I just really tried to separate it. I mean, that’s really all I could do.”

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, though, that a show with so much power over its audience should have such an effect on one of its own stars. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the darkest, most gripping and genuinely society-altering shows of the past decade, pushing its actors into often unexplored territory and inspiring an unprecedented uprising of real-life activism among its devotees.

Based on the novel of the same name by the Booker Prize-winning and global bestselling author Margaret Atwood, the story is set (just like the novel), in a near-future society where a radical political group has overthrown the US government to create Gilead. In this new state, all women and minorities have been subjugated, and because environmental pollution has caused large-scale infertility, the fertile women left have been abducted and turned into Handmaids. They are then sent to the homes of rich commanders who ritually rape them once a month, in order for them to bear children for their wives.

The show is in turns desperately heartbreaking, brutal, rage-inducing and disturbing. But, also, utterly compelling and – set against the backdrop of #MeToo, Trump’s presidency and the ongoing battle for women’s rights globally (the number of US states imposing new and restrictive laws on abortion, and even in the UK, the near total ban on it in Northern Ireland) – uncomfortably prescient. It’s sometimes hard to believe that Atwood’s original novel was written in 1984. This September, 35 years on, she’s releasing a sequel, The Testaments, which is likely to be just as searing a takedown of society – present and future.

Strahovski herself says she feels privileged, despite the psychological challenges of keeping her pregnancy sacred, to be part of such a seminal show. “It’s always been incredible how moved people are by it. I mean, moved emotionally and moved in a disgusted way – and everything in between! It really does speak to people on so many different levels. Only a few TV shows that can say that they do that.”

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