'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3: Elisabeth Moss is a natural when it comes to handpicking award-winning shows

After 'The West Wing' and 'Mad Men', Elisabeth Moss has consistently picked shows that are challenging and unique — including 'The Handmaid's Tale'


                            'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3: Elisabeth Moss is a natural when it comes to handpicking award-winning shows

Elisabeth Moss started working in TV shows in the 1990s and got her first film role in 1991. She has made some interesting choices since her days as an actor in the late 90s show 'The West Wing'. In that show, she played Zoey Bartlet, the youngest daughter of President Josiah Bartlet, and was featured prominently in comparison to the her sisters on the show. 'The West Wing' was probably Moss' big break as most of her memorable characters came after the show ended in 2006.

Over the years, Moss has come to be known for playing women who are earnest and driven — such as Peggy Olsen in 'Mad Men'.

From left: Matthew Weiner, January Jones, John Slattery, Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks attend the 'Mad Men' New York Special Screening at The Museum of Modern Art in 2015 in New York City. (Source: Getty Images)
From left: Matthew Weiner, January Jones, John Slattery, Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks attend the 'Mad Men' New York Special Screening at The Museum of Modern Art in 2015 in New York City. (Source: Getty Images)

She started off in 'Mad Men' as a secretary who shared her office with a copy machine. She grew with the show to become a sought-after copywriter in the period drama that is set in the advertising world of the 1960s.

The show is considered one of the best American dramas even today and has a cult fan following. While Jon Hamm as the lead Don Draper won over audiences with his excellent acting skills, Moss was equally appreciated for her portrayal of Peggy.

Speaking about auditioning for the role in an interview with Sunday Sitdown, Moss said, "Everybody wanted to audition for it. Everybody wanted to be in it. I just remember doing the audition and just loving that character right away. I always wanted to approach it not as a girl in the sixties, but I wanted women to identify with her regardless of what decade it was."

After 'Mad Men', Moss was a part of 'Top of the Lake' in 2013 and its sequel 'Top of the Lake: China Girl' in 2017. In the show, she plays the role of detective Robin Griffin who investigates the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl in New Zealand. In the second season, she investigated the death of an Asian girl who was found in Bondi Beach, Australia.

Her realistic depiction of the character and the situations that she goes through fetched her a Critics' Choice Award in 2013 and also a Golden Globe for Best Actress — Miniseries or Television Film. The show also was a lot darker than Moss' previous shows and also set her up for yet another critically acclaimed show 'The Handmaid's Tale'.

In 2017, the world was introduced to Margaret Atwood's work 'The Handmaid's Tale' in televised format by Hulu. Moss plays the role of Offred-June Osborn from Gilead. She is also an executive producer of the show which started four months after president Donald Trump's inauguration.

Since then, Moss and others who are a part of the show have been answering questions about the show and its parallel with real-life incidents. The second season only got much darker as the show developed beyond the book. The oppression, inequality and the totalitarian government of the dystopian world of 'Gilead' was much too close to home. The show also fits the type of role that Moss usually looked out for. In the same interview, Moss said that she likes to play a character which has something to overcome.

'The Handmaid's Tale' has been dubbed a 'watercooler hit' and 'a cultural phenomenon', especially after comedian Michelle Wolf, at the 2018 White House Correspondents' Dinner, compared press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to the show's character Aunt Lydia. The joke had the Republicans calling out Wolf for going too far but Moss' response to the joke exemplified her role of Offred.

Speaking about the incident with GQ, Moss said, "I mean... It’s like, I can see it (similarity between Lydia and Sanders). But I actually like Aunt Lydia in a lot of ways. So I suppose that’s the difference between them! One of the things we tried to do this season is to really show there’s a human being in there and that there’s a person who at one point had a life [and] has compassion for these girls. I mean, I see a lot more humanity and compassion in Ann Dowd’s portrayal of Aunt Lydia [than in Sanders]. I’ll say that. I do."

A still from The Handmaid's Tale featuring Elizabeth Moss as Offred and Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia. (Source: Hulu)
A still from The Handmaid's Tale featuring Elizabeth Moss as Offred and Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia. (Source: Hulu)

This kind of response is something that we would expect from June Osborn and goes on to show that Moss has a knack for picking up the most interesting characters to play. While the third season of 'The Handmaid's Tale' will premiere on June 5, Moss will also be seen in Jordan Peele's upcoming horror movie 'Us'.