'The Handmaid's Tale': Joseph Fiennes refused to film brutal rape scene because "Fred is a human"
"As abhorrent and nasty and evil as Fred is, I have to defend parts of him," said Fiennes, about the scene where he refused to film his character raping his own wife.
If there's one thing that stands out in Hulu's 'The Handmaid Tale', it's how radical the show is with its depiction of a gritty, dark world. As it turns out, sometimes things get so outrageous that even the cast thinks it's taking everything a bit too far. Like this one particular scene from the second season, where Commander Fred Waterford and his wife, Serena, had gone on a diplomatic visit across the Gilead-Canada border, and the culmination of the scene was originally planned to show her getting raped. But actor Joseph Fiennes, who is the face behind the role of Fred, put his foot down and refused to film the scene.
Fiennes addressed the issue in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, recalling how he decided to stick to his decision, he said: "I guess in many ways, as abhorrent and nasty and evil as Fred is, I have to defend parts of him."
He continued, "In episode 9 (of season 2), we had a moment where Fred was going to – after meeting Luke – rape Serena in a hotel room straight after, and it just didn't track for me. I had to go out on a limb and refuse to do it because I felt that even though Fred is who he is, he's human."
"And I think that he would be reeling from the interaction with Luke, and that suddenly the reality comes face to face with him and he would be digesting that and trying to understand it, and he wouldn't necessarily be switched on by being in Canada in a new hotel and trying to heavily persuade his wife to do something that she wouldn't want to do," he added.
But the omission of the scene took more than just his word of refusal; he shared how convincing the showrunners to change the scene took "long emails and defending and pushing", stating that "it didn't need a heavy scene to kind of suddenly push (Serena) over the edge".
As viewers would know by now, the following episode on the show did contain a rape scene between Fred, his wife Serena, and Offred/June — something that wasn't exactly easy to watch, of course. But then again, the entire show has proven to live up to every bit of its controversial potential with blunt portrayals like that. All in all, fans and followers have been hooked on the show ever since its release.
Everything about The Handmaid's Tale has been quite revolutionary in the world of TV shows. It has garnered millions of fans and prestigious award nominations, including a whopping total 14 Emmy nominations in the last two years.