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Joseph Fiennes refused to film a scene in The Handmaid's Tale, so it was scrapped

The producers removed the scene.

FOR ANYONE WHO has watched The Handmaid’s Tale in its entirety, you’ll be all too well aware that the show doesn’t shy away from scenes depicting acts of utter brutality.


And given the harrowing nature of the show, it’s unsurprising to learn that it can take its toll on the cast at times.

Indeed, Yvonne Strahovski, who plays Serena, recently told The Huffington Post that a particular rape scene left a ‘bad taste in her mouth’.

And this week, Joseph Fiennes, who plays Serena’s husband Fred, revealed that he pushed back on a particular storyline in a move which ultimately forced scriptwriters to reconsider the scene.


Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the actor challenged a rape scene which he felt misrepresented his character’s development.

I guess in many ways, as abhorrent and nasty and evil as Fred is, I have to defend parts of him. In episode 9, we had a moment where Fred was going to rape — after meeting Luke — rape Serena in a hotel room straight after, and it just didn’t track for me.

In a series of lengthy emails sent to producers, Joseph argued that  – on this particular occasion – the scene was a stretch, and not one he was willing to partake in.

I had to go out on a limb and refuse to do it because I felt that even though Fred is who he is, he’s human.


Elaborating on his decision to challenge the scene, Joseph said:

I think that he would be reeling from the interaction with Luke, and that suddenly the reality comes face to face with him and he would be digesting that and trying to understand it and he wouldn’t necessarily be switched on by being in Canada in a new hotel and trying to heavily persuade his wife to do something that she wouldn’t want to do.

While Fred insists that the intended scene wasn’t indicative of his character’s arc, he said it’s important to lean into the darkness of the show and his role he plays.

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Niamh McClelland

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