“Orange Is the New Black” Actress to Play Moira in “The Handmaid’s Tale” Adaptation

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Samira Wiley will co-star in Hulu’s adaptation of the Margaret Atwood classic

Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington

TV shows or movies differ from literature in the sense that characters can no longer be just themselves. Characters are a collaboration between an actor and fiction. They become physical, embodied, visual — meaning the actor goes on after a character perishes. Orange Is the New Black fans will be painfully familiar with this.

Samira Wiley will go on, and in fact her star in Hollywood is rising fast. According to The Hollywood Reporter, she is joining the team that will be adapting Margaret Atwood’s beloved speculative fiction novel The Handmaid’s Tale into a 10-episode Hulu series.

First edition copy

The 1985 book is set in the not-so-distant future in the newly formed Puritanical, totalitarian state known as Gilead. Gilead is a frightening dystopia plagued by environmental problems, which have rendered a good amount of the population (mainly women, though also men) infertile. With this backdrop, the religious fanatics who control Gilead seize upon the few fertile women left. They treat them as state property. Thusly, the story’s protagonist is named “Offred”, or “Of Fred,” the Commander to whom she’s been assigned as a handmaid. What drives her is not only survival in this grim reality, but the search for her daughter whom she lost during the rise of the state of Gilead. Wiley will come into the story as Moira, Offred’s best friend from college. In the delirium of the novel, it is Moira’s presence which acts as a bridge between Offred’s past (pre-Gilead) and her present; she is part of Offred’s protection against the anonymizing force of the state.

It has previously been reported that Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss will play the lead. Among a bevy of producers, Margaret Atwood will also reportedly be a consulting producer. For Orange Is the New Black fans, the only downside of this news is that they will have to wait until 2017 to see Ms. Wiley in this role. In the meantime, they can catch her on FXX’s critically acclaimed show You’re the Worst which returns for season three on August 31st.

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