With an emotional wrap on season three of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Amanda Brugel is looking back at her heroic role on the hit series.
The star chatted with ET Canada about the “hopeful” finale and her heroic moment saving 152 children from the dark world of Gilead.
“I think it was amazing to see how hopeful it was because it’s not our thing,” Brugel, who plays Rita in the series, said. “The idea of having 45 minutes of hope was a nice surprise.”
But shooting that emotional scene, leading the children to safety in Canada, brought up so many different emotions for Brugel.
“I think the emotion hit me at really different, shocking and unusual times,” she confessed. “The stuff that is scripted and is supposed to be intentionally emotional was the thing that I thought would get me, but truthfully, it was walking in silence through the forest with 152 kids. It just got me thinking about moments in history like the Underground Railroad or the people who ever tried to make their way out of internment camps… it made me highly emotional.”
She continued, “But the scene in the airplane hangar was actually the opposite, it was quite joyful. I’ve never had the opportunity to have a scene with Samira [Wiley] or O.T. [Fagbenle] or Alexis [Bledel]. We’ve all gotten to know each other over our three years but we’ve never been on set together at the same time, it has always been at award shows or screenings. So I was actually elated to be able to act with them, particularly O.T., because we have quite a special brother-sister relationship. It made it really easy to think of June [Elisabeth Moss] and her love for Luke because as a person, I already have such a love and trust for O.T. that it made coming out of that plane and into Luke’s arms perfect. Like I was coming home.”
And as a mother herself, Brugel admits that while the Ontario-filmed show’s premise is too dark for her sons, Jude and Phoenix, she has shown her eldest the finale as an important teaching lesson.
“I actually made my 8-year-old son sit down and watch it. He’s never been allowed to watch a single episode of ‘Handmaid’s’ but I was like if you’re going to watch anything it would be this one,” she said. “I’m the mother of two young boys, and I think the story we’re telling is terribly important for young women, but even more important for young men. We’ve got to catch them at an age now where they can start to have these conversations and learn what the world could be if equality tilts a little to much. If we catch them at a young age we can help them grow and appreciate how important equality is.”
But when it comes to Rita, the Canadian actress is hopeful she’ll get the justice she deserves, especially when it comes to Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski).
“I hope that within her new freedom now that she develops a form of empathy and compassion for her two captors that will hopefully enable some of the viewers to have empathy for them too,” she explained. “I think that if we were to have Rita come in and destroy them verbally and do something that would put them in jail for life, which I think they should be, I don’t think it’s doing our audience a service. A lot of people refer to us as an example of how to be strong and sometimes being strong isn’t getting even, sometimes being strong is having empathy.”
And Rita fans are so happy with her story arc. “It’s been insane,” she said of the reaction.
“I thought that people would like it and I thought that people would get really excited but I didn’t think that I would get phone calls at four o’clock in the morning, or emails, or written letters, or texts or tweets. It’s been very overwhelming.”
She added, “And people are taking very different things from it. Some people are taking away her hope, others are taking away the fact that they are finally seeing an innocent side to her and people are loving the reunion between Rita and Luke. I really love it because I carefully curated her throughout all three seasons. She was a hard shell at the beginning but she was able to open up at the very end and I love that people are actually buying that. As an actor, you never know if people are going to buy your performance and people are loving that and appreciating it. The response has been overwhelming. It’s been the most overwhelming of my career.”
But what’s next for Brugel? Other than her recurring roles on “Kim’s Convenience” and “Workin’ Moms”, she stars next to Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs in the upcoming series “Snowpiercer”.
“It was bonkers. I mean I was going back-and-forth between it and ‘Handmaid’s’,” she explained of her new role. “But when I got to set, it was kind of a lot like the ‘Handmaid’s’ environment with a huge ensemble cast who are very close. Jennifer is so down to earth, so loving and so complimentary, like every time I would do a scene she would come up and say something, which is so lovely. Daveed is very quiet and very much a gentleman. It was a wonderful set to be on. It was a great experience.”