Amanda Brugel – The Handmaid’s Tale
By: Nicole Dintelman
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) The second season of “Kim’s Convenience.” It’s a comedy and I get to reprise my role as a quirky and very innocent pastor. I’ve been submerged in some pretty dark material lately, so spending the summer as a Pastor will be quite lovely.
Q) Please tell us the premise for “The Handmaid’s Tale” and about your character.
A) Due to staggeringly low reproduction rates, a totalitarian state assigns all fertile women as handmaids to wealthy couples in hopes of rebuilding the population. Women fall into one of four explicit categories; Handmaids, Wives, Aunts and Marthas. I play a “Martha;” an infertile servant. My character Rita is curt, sarcastic and holds a tremendous amount of disdain and suspicion for all Handmaids.
Q) What is it like working on a show that is so relevant to our current political climate?
A) Frightening, emotional. High stakes were heightened and I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief as much as I would have a few short years ago.
Q) What did you find challenging about the role?
A) Rita does not have much dialogue. In fact, no one has lengthy conversations. I’m used to an almost unnecessary amount of exposition when working in TV. For this project I was asked to convey an extraordinarily complex amount of emotion and thought with very few words. All actors dream of this amount of subtext, but I found it challenging at first. Now, I live for it.
Q) Have you read the book? If so, did you read it before or after getting the part?
A) More times than I can count. My love affair began at age fifteen in Grade 10 Canadian Literature class. I’ve written short stories about it. I submitted an essay based on the novel to York University and was offered a full scholarship to the Screenwriting program. Two years later, I was accused of plagiarism on a final thesis where, once again, The Handmaid’s Tale was the subject matter. I was immediately exonerated after I produced a decade of work dedicated to the book. I got the part fifteen years later.
Q) What do you enjoy the most about portraying Rita?
A) I love how impenetrable her public mask is, yet how deeply open her heart remains. She has found a way to adapt to this new world which indicates a resilience that I admire. But she is human, so her goodness, her kindness sneaks through at the most unpredictable moments. I love playing a character that keeps surprising and inspiring me.
Q) What has been your favorite episode to shoot?
A) The pilot was my favorite. So many remarkable firsts. Reed Morano is the best director I have ever worked with. She can say one word to you and send the scene reeling in the most exciting direction. I met our genius Costume Designer Ane Crabtree during a private fitting that consisted of sharing stories about our heritage with a little dress up in between. My first day, we shot the iconic prayer service before the ceremony scene. I had read about it for years and suddenly was standing in a room with the characters, speaking text I had memorized twenty-five years prior. It was surreal and gorgeous and intimidating and unforgettable.
Q) What do you think it is about Handmaid’s Tale that has made it a fast fan favorite series?
A) Oh dear. So many things. I think it is gorgeous to look at, it’s superbly performed, the music is fantastic, the wardrobe is delicious. It’s a feast for the eyes. And I think it has startled people awake. Provided a window into a possible future. I genuinely think people like to be unnerved. It makes them feel alive.
Q) You are a part of social media. Do you enjoy the instant fan feedback you receive to the show?
A) Love it. Love the fan art. Love the suggestions for Season Two soundtracks. Love the theories and threads. Love it all to bits.
Q) What is your latest fashion or clothing trend that you can’t get enough of and why?
A) Florals and ruffles. I’m looking at you Erdem and Rodarte. I love how unapologetically feminine and lady-like this trend is. Also, I’m sliiiiiightly dramatic, so marching my kids to kindergarten wearing a cascading, powder-blue gown is right up my alley.
Q) What is a recent movie you watched and what did you like the most about it?
A) Blue Jasmine. I originally pressed play because Cate Blanchett is the best thing that ever happened to me. [laughs] However, I could not take my eyes off of Sally Hawkins. A friend of mine is a producer on Maudie and I could not believe that this was the same actor. She breathed such humanity into Ginger which always motivates me to attempt to do the same.