Joseph Fiennes Joins Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale as The Commander

Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is getting its cast together before it commences production this fall. Deadline reports that Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in LoveCamelotAmerican Horror Story) will play Commander Fred Waterford—the Fred in Offred, the name of the eponymous handmaid played by Elisabeth Moss.

As a Commander and founding father of the totalitarian Republic of Gilead, Fred both benefits from the fundamentalist system that puts women into various castes serving the state and men, and also bears the pressures of defending Gilead from spies and turncoats. He’s a surprisingly sympathetic character in Atwood’s novel, as—despite himself—he engages Offred in forbidden conversation outside of the fertility rituals that are supposed to be her sole purpose. Fiennes is a keen casting choice for a man who is both distant to a woman who is his property yet also plays illicit games of Scrabble with her.

Hulu has also cast Max Minghella (The Social Network) as Nick, the Commander’s driver, who is also drawn to Offred, albeit in more dangerous ways; and Ann Dowd (Leftovers) as Aunt Lydia, who trains and indoctrinates Offred and her best friend Moira at the Red Center before they are assimilated into Gilead society.

The major cast is almost entirely set; the last big role left to be filled is Serena Joy, Fred’s wife and Offred’s tormentor. The Handmaid’s Tale will premiere on Hulu sometime in 2017.

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