Is that enough to bring about redemption?
No, Fred is a repeat offender — an ugly, pathetic, misogynist monster that will never change. I felt like Fred wouldn’t redeem himself in the way that we want to see in movies. And I stayed, I feel, the more difficult course, which was to actually stick with his love of power and the predatory aspect that’s hidden behind this theocracy, this belief, this religion.
The people who have to change are the forgivers, which is the interesting paradox of June’s journey: She becomes the thing that she seeks to destroy. She brings Gilead full-on back into Canada. Of course June is the horrific product, and it’s no fault of hers.
You’ve said that Fred was rather thinly sketched in Margaret Atwood’s novel. How did you fill him out?
There were clues in the book. One, which I love and really is the basis of Fred, is that Atwood describes him as this pathetic withering limb that lives inside a military boot. And so the mahogany desk, the double-breasted suit, the beard — all the armor, if you like — belied the truth of his pathetic-ness. It’s a meditation on the corrosive effects of ego and power more than extremist religious beliefs.
And yet he has sometimes come across as, dare I say, rather appealing. Was that intentional?
Yeah, definitely. I always wanted him to toe the Gilead line and not shake from that belief, but also be human. I just feel the more human, the more terrifying he is. It’s a complex line, where you have to honor the face of Gilead and the person that we want to see taken down. You can’t become too transcendent because what are we fighting against?
What’s your interpretation of that final scene between June and Luke after the salvaging, where she holds her baby, Nicole, as he sits on the floor looking stricken?