Madeline Brewer on Janine the Survivor in Season 5 – The Hollywood Reporter

[This story contains spoiler’s from the fourth episode of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale season five, “Dear Offred.”]

Last season was a big one for The Handmaid’s Tale’s Janine.

The fiery maid played by Madeline Brewer not only survived a near-death explosion, but rose from the ashes as a leader in the post-Gilead life and was given a much-awaited plot episode. long-awaited to manifest her inner strength. However, her journey is even more heartbreaking when, at the end of the season, she is captured and returned to the handmaiden headquarters at the Red Center, where she decides to obey her aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and abide by the rules. Gilead’s authoritarian social rule. to exist.

While chatting about that decision, Brewer shared that her hope for her character moving forward is that Janine will find her purpose. Then, with the return of the show’s fifth season, she found it.

“For so many years, Janine has been told many times, and it’s been enforced over and over, that she is just a walking womb and her sole purpose on this planet is to be raped and give birth to someone else,” Brewer said The Hollywood Reporter speaking at the start of the season. “So to find the purpose of helping these girls [the handmaids] Give her a reason to live. It gives her a reason to be there. She’s thinking, ‘If I could have a purpose, if I could be helpful, maybe they wouldn’t post me. [to a family] and maybe they’ll need me here. ‘ That was her hope at the start of this season.”

After Janine is recaptured in Chicago and separated from her starring handmaiden June (Elisabeth Moss) – who eventually fled to Canada, where she now lives as a refugee – Janine begs her aunt Lydia to let her die, instead of giving her back to life as a maid somewhere. She will be raped in the hope of being able to carry a child for another Commander and his wife. “She’s pretty sure she can’t do it again,” says Brewer of Janine’s fifth season prospects. “I think after she went out and enjoyed the feeling of freedom and then got caught, she felt to a degree, ‘Maybe that’s not the thing for me.’ If I can find purpose here, I can live. And if they repost me, I will find a way to hang myself.”

Given Janine’s history, Brewer says, it’s not far-fetched to see how she managed to get to such a place. But the actress does not see it as despair. “She no longer dreams of freedom, it has gone too far. And I don’t think it’s her giving up. I just think she’s very realistic,” she said.

Janine has endured trauma ranging from sexual abuse to physical abuse (her eye was removed as a form of punishment), and she has lost two children. Her first son, died in a car crash after they separated in Gilead. Her second child, Charlotte, to whom she gave birth to the Putnam family as a handmaid, remains within her orbit but out of reach. Janine’s change of docile behavior at the Red Center leads to a brief but warm reunion with her daughter, where Janine does the impossible and respects her place in the Gilead hierarchy just to she has fleeting moments.

“Just having any chance, even whispering of an opportunity, to be able to see Charlotte is enough,” she said. “At this point, all Janine can ask of herself is: ‘Can I live with this?’ Because she’s very comfortable going in the other direction if needed, and I don’t think that’s a weakness. I think it takes incredible strength to stay. Choosing to stay is the most powerful thing, against everything inside of you telling you not to, that nothing else. Staying is the most admirable display of strength.”

Janine had narrowly escaped death before. She jumped off a bridge after abducting her baby from Putnams and being forced to give it up, and she survived the Chicago bombings in season four. But in this season, when her handmaiden and secret battle buddy Esther (Mckenna Grace) poison both herself and Janine for revenge, Janine’s attempt at life is betrayed.

Esther (Mckenna Grace) and Janine (Madeline Brewer), eat poisonous chocolate (Janine unknown).

Courtesy of Sophie Giraud / Hulu

The second episode of the season saw Esther poisoning Janine with chocolates and telling Janine unknowingly after she ate them that she wanted to hurt her because of Janine’s role in the maid’s life. by Esther. The painful scene that causes two maids to spit blood on the floor of the Red Center before being taken to the hospital, comes after a traumatic visit Esther had with her new Commander, Janine’s former Commander Warren Putnam (Stephen). Kunken). Janine has since woken up and spent weeks recovering, but Esther remains in a coma.

“It’s another class for Janine, what does this do to her? She was close to death before and in the hospital. She will do it, right? We did this. But this time, instead of it being borne by her alone, this was brought about by someone she loved, and this was so much more painful,” Brewer explained. “She knows Esther, and she knows what she’s been through. And I think for the most part she felt the need for a mother to raise this child – this wounded, baby bird turned out to be quite a vulture. “

She continued, “All her friends are dead or gone, and friendship is what kept her alive. We have seen how the maids always walk in duo. In the end, Janine will always choose her friends. She is very loyal. So I think with Esther, and then with betrayal, it broke something in her – something essential to the person Janine was now turned into by this horrible betrayal. from someone I really think she loves and cares about. ”

Shooting the scene required precise choreography, as Brewer and Grace managed to perfectly squirt their bloody coughs in the right direction as they rolled on the ground. “Every few minutes, Mckenna and I fill our mouths with water, a really sweet sugary drink. It’s really raw, it can give you a deep feeling because it’s so sweet,” she said with a laugh at the acting task. “I have a great photo of me and Mckenna just smiling, covered in blood. We’re having the time of our lives, but Ann [Dowd] those who ran in and screamed and cried had a slightly more emotional day! “

Elisabeth Moss stars to direct Mckenna Grace.

Courtesy of Sophie Giraud / Hulu

On screen, this event sparked a change in Janine, as it became clear when she woke up that she was no longer obedient. Instead, she confronts Aunt Lydia about her contributing role in Gilead’s abuse of handmaidens, which is unthinkable, and prompts Lydia to want change and, ultimately, take steps to protect his girls. Perhaps the most powerful twist in Gilead’s slow wheel of change is the impact all of this has on Lydia, who is able to use her strong loyalty to Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) in a way small.

“Finally, Lydia cares about these girls. As much as we’d like to think she doesn’t, if you spend even 30 seconds talking to Ann [Dowd] about Aunt Lydia, she would say ‘she loves those girls, she loves girls.’ And she does. I think you’ll see that in every scene that Ann and I have. There’s a lot of love there,” Brewer said. “And my hope is that Aunt Lydia realizes that if you love these girls, you have to advocate for them in a very real way, not just in a ‘God willing’ way.”

Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd).

Courtesy of Sophie Giraud / Hulu

Behind the scenes, Brewer isn’t concerned that Janine’s life endeavors will be the end. “I hope that after five seasons there will be a bit of a warning. I don’t think Bruce Miller will allow that, he’s too good a human being to surprise me in that way,” she said of the creator and presenter.

But she certainly acknowledges the change. “I think there’s some energy from what happened that Janine takes advantage of at the end of the season that you’ll see,” she teased. “There’s a void in the Red Center if there’s no June, and the only way you’ll survive with Gilead is to have a June; with some kind of june. So I think Janine tries to show some of that June’s energy to these maids. And I think she found purpose in that.”

The story of the maidSeason five is currently streaming on Hulu, with new episodes coming Wednesdays.


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