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The Handmaid's Tale: Elisabeth Moss Explains Offred's Journey

If you're still reeling from the eerily timely, disconcerting early episodes of The Handmaid's Tale, Elisabeth Moss has some news for you: it doesn't get any better from here. Moss, who stars as Offred in the series, recently spoke to Collider about the show's darkness and her character's journey, saying that it was tough to master the tone of the increasingly relevant series.

Moss says she took about a month to decide if she was going to take the role, in part because she wanted to know if the show would be willing to really embrace the darkness of its source material. "Would we be watering anything down or taking anything back?" she said she thought. "Were we going to be able to do justice to the book?" However, after talking to showrunner Bruce Miller, she realized that the two had the same idea of what they wanted to do with the series, and she got to work on the difficult task of becoming Offred.

Moss says that it is easy to look at Offred as the victim, but she wanted to make sure that there was still "complexity" in her character, with Offred not necessarily always doing the right thing. "She has to become a part of the world, in order to get out of it," she says. "She has to join her enemy, in order to escape."

Offred will grow stronger throughout the course of the season, with Moss saying that she will "completely fall apart" several times, with each time giving her more power in the end. "She's also going to have to do some things that are questionable, in order to find her daughter and get out and get what she wants," she said. "She also does some things that are questionable, morally, when it comes to the happiness or comfort you might seek in such a dark world." Moss says that Offred won't necessarily find someone she can trust completely throughout the series, instead having to find a way to believe in herself. "She is alone, but that doesn't mean that she can't get out and that she can't find her daughter," Moss said. "One person can be very powerful."

For Moss, it was important that the story not just show Offred as a heroine who easily triumphs over evil. Rather, she wanted to highlight that Offred is a real person, just like the viewer. "She's what we would be like, in that situation," she said. "That was really important to me when I was trying to figure out how to play her. I wanted her to be who I would be, in that situation. That's been really important to us to show. You're going to see her find strength, but not in the way you would expect, and in a very real way. She's not going to grab a gun or a sword and fight her way out. That's not real. She will find her way out, in a way that is very truthful."

The Handmaid's Tale has been getting quite a lot of attention recently for its timeliness, which Moss says she has come to recognize more and more in recent days. "This totalitarian fundamentalist regime that exists as Gilead has an even greater relevance now, in our country," she said, adding that, because The Handmaid's Tale is a television show, their main purpose was still to entertain. "It's not so crazy, the things that are happening in the book. That's scary."

The first three episodes of The Handmaid's Tale are available to stream on Hulu now, while the rest of the episodes will be released every Wednesday after that. If you've already binged your way through the first set of episodes, see the other TV shows that are going to blow you away this year.