How Elisabeth Moss Became an Accidental Activist Through ‘Handmaid’s’

The star opens up about her political awakening.

August 22, 2017 3:20 pm
Actress Elisabeth Moss
Actress Elisabeth Moss attends "The Handmaid's Tale" FYC event at DGA Theater on August 14, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Elisabeth Moss has quickly gained fame in Hollywood and beyond as the star of Hulu’s show, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is nominated for 13 Emmys, including best actress. But this wasn’t her first major role. She was also in The West Wing, Mad Men and Top of The Lake,  and though nominated many times, she has never won an Emmy.

“It’s lucky number eight,” she said to The Hollywood Reporter. “But if you’ve been nominated seven times and lost seven times, you learn to be pretty excited about being nominated. You feel this sense of, ‘Well, at least I seem to be doing well consistently.’”

However, what makes this round more meaningful is that the odds of her winning are greater than ever, but the character itself has defined Moss’ career as an actress, producer, and eventually, a women’s rights activist.

“What I’ve learned is, now is not really a time to stand in the middle,” she said to the Hollywood Reporter. “You’ve got to pick a side.”

The Handmaid’s Tale is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel about a dystopian universe where all fertile women are stripped of their rights and forced into sexual slavery. Moss insisted on being an active producer of the show, writes The Hollywood Reporter, and showrunner Bruce Miller was happy to oblige. She also weighed in on design, directors and costumes.

What she, and no one really, expected when they started The Handmaid’s Tale, was how relevant the drama would become in once Donald Trump became president. The series hinges on plot points, such as all-female street protests, that feel incredibly similar to the current-day feminist movement.

Moss, whose performance is called “unflinching,” “chilling,” and “brilliant,” according to the Hollywood Reporter, was thrown into the spotlight as a spokesperson and she is only now getting comfortable with that role.

A new profile by The Hollywood Reporter digs deep into Moss’ life before The Handmaid’s Tale and discusses her reservations with her soaring profile and all the attention that comes with it.

Jenni Konner, the producer of Girls, has called Moss “our generation’s Meryl Streep.” Moss is currently meeting with other female producers, including Konner, for potential collaborations.

Moss was dragged on social media when she famously put her foot in her mouth while promoting the series at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. She was asked if the show’s feminist themes attracted her to the project. She responded: “Honestly, for me, it’s not a feminist story. It’s a human story because women’s rights are human rights. … I never intended to play Offred as a feminist.”

Immediately social media went up in arms and Moss says it was a wake-up call for her. She has started donating to Planned Parenthood and American Civil Liberties Union as well as incorporating the organizations’ pins and ribbons into her red-carpet looks.

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