Is Serena Joy…a Swiftie? That we’re not sure, but what we do know is that the woman who plays her, Yvonne Strahovski, named Taylor Swift’s 2014 album, 1989, as one of two albums she would listen to for the rest of her life.
In honor of the premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale season five on Hulu, we played a game of “So Candid” with Strahovski where we asked her a variety of random questions—from what her childhood nickname was to the song that always makes her dance (it’s “Endgame” by Taylor Swift, FYI)—as part of STYLECASTER’s “The World of Style” issue.
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Strahovski has played Serena Joy, the wife of Commander Fred Waterford and the archnemesis of Handmaid June Osborne, in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale since season one in 2017. In her cover story for “The World of Style” issue, Strahovski explained how she’s seen Serena evolve throughout the show. She goes from one end of the spectrum to the other, and then sits in the middle in that gray area between good and evil, but never quite makes it to the good side. Which is probably why she’s an interesting character to watch,” she said. “Audiences do end up rooting for her, as she and June in past seasons have gotten closer or when she’s shown a friendlier side. Then she just backflips and goes right back into being her true self.”
Strahovski also told STYLECASTER about how it was her “job to humanize” Serena, even if she doesn’t support her actions. “It was difficult for me to come to terms with how evil she was at times and try to justify everything because, at the end of the day, it’s my job to humanize her,” she said. “It’s not like I’m playing a villain for villain’s sake. She’s a woman who is also surviving in a terrible situation.” She continued, “Initially, when we met her way back in the pilot, she didn’t trust Fred. Fred had obviously had an affair with a previous handmaid. She’s got her own bag of things that have wounded her and traumatized her. I’m not saying that’s an excuse, it’s a platform for a regular person having gone through certain things to turn you into something. Serena’s turned into a bit of a monster and like all characters in Gilead, she is surviving in her own way and the only way she knows how to.”
As for season five, Strahovski also teased how Serena and June’s relationship will change after the death of Fred in The Handmaid’s tale season four finale. “Once Serena realizes Fred’s gone for good, the loneliness floods in and becomes full on for her,” she said. “What is she going to do to take charge of her life and really secure herself a space in the world? Where is that going to be? How is that going to play out? Where does she feel safe? ‘What is she going to do to me and my child?’ is the biggest thing in her mind after she finds out June killed Fred. People are dropping out of her life. The absence of all of these people is terrifying to her. She really has to dig her heels in and figure it out. She’s in survival mode now, more than ever.”
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