Interview with Reed Morano, Director of The Handmaid's Tale

Q: What is the basic premise of The Handmaid's Tale?

A: The story of The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian work of speculative fiction where because of a plague of infertility, the government is overthrown and taken over by a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship that wants to return to traditional values in order to create the best environment literally and figuratively for people to bear healthy children again. The motivation seems positive, but the way that they go about it is oppressive and scary. Women are segregated and they are not allowed to own property or have jobs. Fertile women become property of the state.

Q: How would you describe the tone and feel of the show?

A: There’s no doubt it goes to very dark places, but that isn’t all that it’s made up of. It could have very easily turned out to be a tonally more one-note but what’s interesting is the way that the scripts are written and the way that Margaret Atwood wrote the book. There's a lot of satire and irony which Lizzie and I were able to play with. There are actually so many more funny moments than I ever would have imagined. It makes the tone more dynamic and therefore, ideally, more consumable.

Q: What drove you to participate in this project?

A: I read the book in college and it was one of my favorite books. When I heard that MGM was making it into a television series, I begged my agents to get me a meeting. When I read the pilot I thought it was unique and there was potential for so much to be said without words. It felt like it could be internal and visceral and really could be told from a singular point of view. The world is so unsettling in one sense and so familiar in another, that I wanted to create a heightened sense of raw reality. In terms of storytelling, it gives you a huge opportunity to play in a straightforward way and play in a way that's really surreal and impressionistic. When I read the script, I thought, this is a real opportunity to make something that you don't normally see on TV. The Handmaid’s Tale is a very special story. 

Q: What has been the biggest challenge creatively?

A: Initially, I think the biggest fear was would it be too dark? But coming up with the emotional “rules” of the storytelling of the show (to explain to future directors) was challenging, probably the biggest challenge so far because it's not like anything else currently on TV and because most of it came from my gut. It's not straightforward and the rules weren’t really rules…they were more often than not gut reactions to each moment.

Q: While developing The Handmaid’s Tale, did you think it would become so relevant with recent events?

A: When we first started working on the show, obviously the campaign was going on in the United States. I honestly never thought the result would be what it became, but we always talked about how relevant the show would be in Trump won. It was interesting editing episodes 2 and 3 because we were doing so as the election was going on and we kept watching what was happening and discussing how people would view the show in the current climate. 

Q: What are you most excited for viewers to see?

A: I'm most excited for viewers to see the performances. These performances are astounding. 

The Handmaid's Tale on Channel 4 at 9pm on May 28th.

May 17, 2017 12:27pm ET by Channel 4  

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