For Elisabeth Moss, telling 'The Handmaid's Tale' was a balancing act

Maarten de Boer  Contour by Getty Images for TV Guide Magazine

Actress Ann Dowd, whose cruel Aunt Lydia controls rebellious handmaids with cattle prods and ritual humiliation, said she hoped the series would fire up viewers to take to the streets to defend women's rights. The best she can hope for is survival - and just maybe, escape.

"The Handmaid's Tale" is a new Hulu series starring Elizabeth Moss.

"I think if you are going to commit that time, you do want to make sure you're going to have some creative say", Moss said of taking on producing duties for the first time.

Although Atwood wrote the novel in 1984 and published it the next year, many are pointing to its relevance in the Trump era. I am to make myself clean, washed and brushed like a prize pig. She is also a producer.

"I think that one of the messages of the book and of the show is to wake up and not sleep through it", Moss says. I could not stand the idea of anyone else doing it. It's not so insane, the things that are happening in the book. You're going to see her find strength, but not in the way you would expect, and in a very real way.

Admitting she never believes that a screen adaptation could do the novel justice, the critic said Hulu had created "a total stunner of a series". An inclusive world adhered to the internal logic of the story more than a segregated one.

But on TV, the material takes on "a new urgency", with the series moving with a "sinister haste" through its unsettling chapters and quickly escalating into "a vivid nightmare" of the horrors of dictatorship. "She didn't want to and then Lizzie was like, 'No, really hit me'". "Why would we be covering [the story of Offred], rather than telling the story of the people of color who got sent off to Nebraska?" showrunner Bruce Miller asked TVLine in January. "It's just excellent, what I've seen so far". And a really personal one.

"There's also the point that can't be overlooked or missed is that they have to", she added. Gilmore Girls was a great training ground for me for this.

Moira's internal fire and spirit were quick to attract Wiley, who'd just come off playing Poussey for several seasons on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black". They assume their husband's name completely - two main characters are Offred and Ofglen ("Of Fred" and "Of Glen").

Brewer said her character is a bit "prickly, but likeable". "For me as an actor, that's what you're trying to do all the time". "She has such a light touch", he says of Bledel. The story switches from Offred's current life as a handmaiden and her previous life, in which she had a partner and a daughter. It's hard not to compare to her Faye Dunaway's turn as Serena Joy in the 1990 film version - because seriously, no one looks good next to the acting powerhouse that is Faye Dunaway - but you could feel Dunaway's rage boiling to the surface.

The world of Gilead isn't quite fleshed out but we get the gist of it from subtle details. "So many things are forbidden now", she intones in nearly hypnotic fashion, not knowing whom she can trust or what will land her in trouble. She also knows that there are probably unimaginable horrors that she doesn't know about.