‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Mckenna Grace on Season 5

[This story contains spoilers to The Handmaid’s Tale‘s season four finale, “The Wilderness.”]

“I thank God for His bounty, Aunt Lydia,” were the surprising last words heard from Mrs. Keyes’ mouth.

The story of the maid viewers last saw Esther Keyes (Mckenna Grace) in the penultimate episode of season four, “Progress”. Gilead’s 14-year-old wife, who courageously hid June (Elisabeth Moss), Janine (Madeline Brewer), and the rest of the maids on her farm at the start of the season, has been knocked down in stature by the end of the season. Season.

After her ranch was raided, Ms. Keyes was arrested by Gilead officers. Weeks later, the ninth episode reveals that Esther has indeed been captured and is now facing a life sentence as the Handmaid. Her punishment for harboring Handmaid defectors – something she reluctantly accepted, until heeding Janine’s advice about lining up to survive – was that she would now serve serving under the rule of Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) at the Red Center. In her final scene, the former smoking fan of the uprising and survivor (who has suffered sexual abuse from Eyes and the other Commanders on the farm and who is secretly poisoning her elderly husband, Commander Keyes), is seen in silence receiving an approving kiss on the forehead from Aunt Lydia.

“She will make war. I hope that she doesn’t finish and give up, because I don’t think that’s who she is,” said Grace. The Hollywood Reporter when it comes to the character’s journey in season four and the potential for a renewed season five. (Creator Bruce Miller spoke to CHEAP about Esther and Janine being windows into the world of the Handmaids, now that June has escaped from Gilead.)

Below, in conversation with CHEAPThe young actress talks about the importance of casting an age-appropriate star to play the “nasty” 14-year-old Keyes and imagines how season four’s breakout character might be a good fit. next generation of Handmaids, if she takes the chance.

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Sophie Giraud / Hulu

Your fiery character, Esther Keyes, became a fan favorite after she was introduced at the beginning of season four. How does it feel to see that kind of feedback?

The night after the episode came out, I went to dinner with some people and one of the waitresses said, “I just watched your episode.” I was so excited, because it just came out. I’m so happy that people follow my work because I’m proud of what I’ve done Maid of and I’m so excited to see it out there, because I love this show so much. As soon as I got the role, I was so happy because it was things like this that I wanted to be a part of.

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What drew you to the role of Esther?

She is an interesting character. It seems like it would be interesting to learn about her, because it’s trying to figure out how to grapple with her immaturity, but at the same time, how mature she is. She’s the little woman who runs this family, but she’s still a young girl who has to deal with all the trauma she’s been through and fractures under the pressure of Gilead, her husband. and all these men. It has a feeling it will be something important and fun to play and, especially with the story of The Tale of the Handmaid, Being able to speak out against all this abuse against young girls, I think that’s a really important role.

How important is your age in the selection process?

They are looking for someone 13 or 14 years old. I’m really glad they recruited me. I know sometimes they want to let older, 18 year olds play these kinds of roles and I’m really glad they didn’t because I think it’s important for a younger person to play an uncomfortable role. such roof. I know that some people were a bit upset that having this 14-year-old play her, they thought, “It’s weird and gross.” But, is that weird and gross for little girls who are being abused 14 and under? So I think it’s important that they picked a real 14 year old girl to play the part and I’m really glad I became that girl.

How did Esther’s age help you understand her by playing her role?

I have all the important teenage emotions to put into the character. Being a teenager was strange; it’s hard. You have a lot of emotions because your hormones are all over the place, so I can express all of her high emotions while I’m living them. I’m really glad I got the chance.

Her smoking got a lot of attention. Are there any parts of Esther that you have recommended or contributed to?

I think that’s one of the first scenes, where June comes out and I’m standing on these haystacks, and they’ll take the cigarette out of the scene after I learn how to smoke – that’s one of my favorite things. by the way, Elisabeth Moss taught me how to smoke fake cigarettes! I think that’s part of the fun of the character. It’s jarring when you first meet her and she’s standing out there, standing on these haystacks, smoking a cigarette in her little heels. So I emailed them an hour or two before the scene saying, “I really feel like we have to keep it, guys. If when we start it doesn’t feel right, we can just let it go. But I think we should keep it. Something about it feels right. “And I’m really glad we did. It was a great moment for Esther, when she had her little cigarette.

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Elisabeth Moss is your co-star and director. With dark material, how did she help you navigate this role?

The set is really fun and light to make up for the dark matter that people are dealing with every day. So that would definitely help. But Miss Elisabeth was incredible. She is a wonderful actress; just working with her every scene feels so real. Seeing how she acted helped me; she will listen to music to help get into the character. She’s so talented. I could go on for hours on how much I admire Miss Elisabeth Moss.

When I had my shot in episode nine where I looked like a Handmaid, she told me to do the “June look” where you look serious and look into the camera. And I freaked out, because it was with Aunt Lydia and [Moss was] direct me while I’m wearing the Handmaid dress; it’s very surreal.

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Sophie Giraud / Hulu

That moment was like watching the next June rise, which is what Esther wanted from the beginning.

Esther really wanted to be her. Well, I don’t know if it has is himr, but she is very fond of June. She looks at her, almost as a mother figure in this completely puzzling sense. I feel like only a June. But there was the whole rebellion and there were all the other girls. So there’s a June and I suppose there’s an Esther too! We’ll see what she does in the next season. I have no clue, but I have hope.

When you signed up, was Esther planning on playing a one-season role? Are you officially participating in next season?

I think it was an episode or two. I’m so happy with how successful it was! Its Maid ofIf they want me back for another episode, I’d be honored!

In his CHEAP In an interview, host Bruce Miller talked about how Janine and Esther could become the gateway into the world of Handmaids alongside Aunt Lydia when the show returns for a fifth season. How do you imagine Esther will handle her new situation?

I have no clue! She can take it in three million different directions. Even playing her, reading the script and seeing what she did, she surprised me just as much as everyone else. Think of what she did on the farm, with tricking her husband and hiding these rebels. She is the unpredictable type. Everything is secret. I would be honored if they let me back like that. I was just praying that I would get some interesting scenes or maybe an episode, but Miss Madeline Brewer is just too awesome and I love the dynamic between Janine and Esther. She’d been so cold to Janine at the farm and now they’re stuck together. That is a great motivator.

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Viewers quickly find out how Esther’s life is; the abuse she endured on the farm and why she was so eager to join June and the revolution. What other backstory did you create for Esther?

I don’t think I did, because I felt like her story was pre-set. I always like not to make too many assumptions about the characters unless I’m talking to the writer or the director. I get emotional with her in her story and I don’t want to turn it into something that isn’t because, in the end, she’s just an abused little girl and I don’t want to complicate things. grocery it or add whatever. should not be added.

At the end of the season, she lined up after taking Janine’s advice. In Esther’s final scene, what is smoldering beneath her politeness?

Wouldn’t anyone be upset by being a Handmaid? Will there be no one like her? She is definitely a warrior. Some people will just do it and take it, but not her. She will cause a war. I hope that she doesn’t finish and give up because I don’t think that’s who she is!

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Sophie Giraud / Hulu

How do you imagine she will react when she hears that Fred (Joseph Fiennes) has been killed?

I feel like she’s going to think that’s crazy. “I have to get out of here – yes!” She will be deceived; it certainly gives her a new sense of hope given that we leave her.

Earlier in the season, Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) talked about how rebellious Junes and Janines are a thing of the past, and how the new generation of Handmaids are more docile since this is the only life they know. What do you hope for Esther when it comes to this next generation of Maid?

I’ve never heard people say that, Esther is part of a new generation of Maid. Is crazy. We’ve all seen what she did. We’ve all heard her stories and seen her fight. I have so many things that I think she can do! I think she can definitely be part of this rebellion and the new generation of Handmaids. She will cause a stir.

The edited interview is long and clear.

The fourth season of The story of the maid Currently streaming on Hulu.

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