“The Handmaid’s Tale”: Clea Duvall on her “powerful” on-screen reunion with Elisabeth Moss at the premiere of the fifth season


Clea Duval returned to “The Handmaid’s Tale” after the departure of Alexis Bledel in the role of Emily.

Every streaming service has its own mega-hit original shows, and for Hulu, it’s definitely “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The Emmy-winning dystopian drama is currently airing its fifth season for those with a Hulu subscription, which was a wild ride that covered the departure of Alexis Bledel as Emily and introduced new intriguing characters. And actress Clea Duvall recently told CinemaBlend about her “powerful” on-screen reunion with Elisabeth Moss or about the premiere of the fifth season.

The 5th season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” began with a bang with the premiere episode called “Morning”. After the murder of Fred Waterford in the Season 4 finale, it was revealed that Emily had returned to Gilead to hunt Aunt Lydia and others. The scene was shot thanks to the outstanding performance of Clea Duval as Sylvia, who had an exciting relationship with the main character Elisabeth Moss June. As you can see in the video above, I recently had the honor of talking to the actress/filmmaker about her return to “The Handmaid’s Tale” (opens in new tab), where she talked about what it was like to help complete Emily’s story. As she told me,

“I was supposed to be in season 4, but because of the pandemic, I just couldn’t. So I was really upset that it didn’t work, but I’m really glad they came to me with it. Elisabeth Moss, this was our first collaboration on the series. We worked together on the film “Interrupted Life” ten million years ago, when she was 16 years old. She’s done quite a few things since then. I was actually doing High School when I shot this. So I flew in and I think I stayed there for about 18 hours or so. We didn’t have much time.”

Talk about intense. After a notable absence from Emily’s story in season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale, fans were thrilled to see Emily’s wife Sylvia back on our screens… even if it was for such a dark occasion. And it seems that Clea Duval had very little time to capture this scene, which was with her partner in the film “Interrupted Life” Elisabeth Moss.

Clea Duvall’s comments about her return to “The Handmaid’s Tale” come from a broader conversation we had about her upcoming Amazon Freevee series “High School,” which chronicles the childhood of queer music legends Tegan and Sarah. I ended up asking about the really explosive scene she had in the season five premiere where Sylvia had to challenge June in such a quiet but powerful way.

Later in the same conversation, Clea Duvall explained what it was like to work with Elisabeth Moss, both a stage partner and director of the premiere of the fifth season of “Morning”. As the perfect multidefice shared:

“Lizzie was so generous because she was also the director of this episode. And she really just showed up. Secondly, when we started, it was the same as in. And I think because the show did such an incredible job of creating the world, creating the characters and their relationships, it was all there. And maybe it helped that once upon a time we had some kind of connection, that now we meet again on the screen as adults. It was really powerful. And the letter, it was all in the letter too.”

Points were awarded. Elisabeth Moss is a force of nature in “The Handmaid’s Tale”, which brings a rough emotionality to her heroine episode by episode. Clea Duval’s comments show how easily she gets used to the role, even while combining the duties of directing the first two episodes of the season. And the director of “The Happiest Season” thought that reuniting with his partner in the film “Interrupted Life” on the screen in this way was powerful.

Since Alexis Bledel has left every role in The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s unclear if we’ll ever see Clea Duvall’s character Sylvia again. But maybe if Emily ends up returning sometime in the future (season 6 is expected to be the last one creating a spin-off), then we could have another Girls Interrupted reunion. Fingers crossed.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” airs Wednesdays on Hulu, and “Clea Duvall High School” premieres on Amazon Freevee on October 14. In the meantime, check out the list of autumn premieres to plan your next binge viewing.


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