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Handmaid of honour; emmy winner's PRIDE AT CLOAK & BONNET PROTESTS Ahead of the return of her hit show, Elisabeth Moss reveals how touched she is that women's rights campaigners have embraced her character.

Byline: RICK FULTON r.fulton@dailyrecord.co.uk

ELISABETH Moss has won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her role as a repressed mum in The Handmaid's Tale.

But the thing that gives her a real sense of satisfaction is that her character's costume has become a symbol for women's rights campaigners across the globe.

Earlier this month, women wearing red cloaks and white bonnets protested outside Alabama State House after the Republican-led senate passed a bill that places a near-total ban on abortion.

Campaigners also donned the outfits during rallies before Ireland's successful referendum to revoke the eighth amendment of its constitution last year.

Elisabeth stars as June/Offred in the dark, dystopian drama, based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel.

The 36-year-old is also an executive producer of the hit show, which returns soon for a third season.

Talking about the protests, she said: "It's just incredible. I wish it didn't have to happen but it's amazing to see people using the costume in that way and that, when you see it, you immediately know what it stands for.

"I'm certainly not taking credit for that - it's all Margaret Atwood's creation - but it's amazing to be part of something that is not just a TV show any more. It's something bigger.

"I wish Handmaid's Tale was just a crazy, weird fantasy but it does mean something more to me and a lot of people."

Atwood's fantasy novel describes a world in which fertile women are reduced to walking wombs by the totalitarian government of Gilead, which has been established in the former United States after a civil war.

The third series will be shown in the US next month, before being aired on Channel 4 at a later date.

Elisabeth said: "I love hearing from people, in person or through social media, how the show has inspired them or given them strength.

"I've even had amazing responses from people who are unfortunately living in countries going through things a little too similar to what is happening on the show. That is the most amazing and touching feedback to me and everyone else on the show. I never expected that."

The show's fanbase includes stars such as Taylor Swift - and Elisabeth revealed she would listen to the singer's songs, like Shake it Off, in order to unwind after shooting dark or disturbing scenes.

She said: "There were a lot of Taylor Swift sing-alongs, for sure.

"There was a lot of joking around between the hard work. That's what actors do Thankfully, we're not actually in Gilead so, believe it or not, we do have a lot of fun."

The show started two years ago and focused on Elisabeth's June Osborne, a married mother of one who is forced to become a handmaid assigned to the home of Gileadan commander Fred Waterford ( Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski).

She is renamed Offred ("Of Fred") but hits back against the regime and becomes a freedom fighter.

The end of the second series last year saw June getting the chance to escape to Canada - but instead giving up her baby to return to the fight and her older daughter, Hannah.

With the tagline "Witness the birth of a revolution", the trailer for series three sees June head back into Gilead to help the resistance movement, as she tries to save Hannah from growing up in the sadistic authoritarian state.

Filming took the cast to Washington DC, with Elisabeth acutely aware of the significance of the setting.

Seeing so many protests against current US president Donald Trump, with women dressing in the handmaid's costume, it will be a strong reminder of fiction turning into fact when we see the scenes shot in the American capital.

It's Elisabeth said: "I think the worst similarity between the handmaid's world and the real world is the slow, creeping sense that things are normal when they are actually not.

to see people the in that "In Gilead, there are things that everybody just takes for granted as the new normal - and I do think that happens in the real world, too.

Elisabeth WOMEN'S RIGHTS "People just start to get used to something, like having their rights and freedoms taken away, but luckily we have many incredible people who refuse to do that and who are marching."

A committed Scientologist, Elisabeth has defended following her faith and been outspoken about Trump and women's rights.

She said: "As women, we're supposed to be quiet and stay in line and not be too vocal. It's that old thing of, if you're outspoken about something, or you're harsh or aggressive about something, you're called a b***h, while a man is called powerful and in control.

"That's an age-old thing. I just don't pay any attention to it or care. Every time I've spoken up, I have received nothing but respect and kindness.

amazing using "I think if you're kind and professional and you're willing to have a conversation about something, people are mostly very respectful, so it's worked out OK."

costume way moss ON RIGHTS DEMOS " Away from her hit show, the Californian star, who is half-British, has been making the most of her award-winning success with a string of movie roles - most as dark and complex as playing June.

Having shared a surprise hit with Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o in scary movie Us, Elisabeth is set to be seen in the horror film Shirley and mob drama The Kitchen, released in August, which also stars Melissa McCarthy.

And in a case of gender equality June could only dream of, the actress is also rumoured to have replaced Johnny Depp in the lead role for a modern reworking of The Invisible Man.

Elisabeth - who also played President Bartlet's youngest daughter, Zoey, in The West Wing, Peggy Olson in Mad Men and won a Golden Globe for her role of a cop in gritty TV series Top of the Lake - is a Hollywood woman in control.

And much of that is thanks to her character in The Handmaid's Tale. She said: "I've learnt there is a fighter in all of us and that when we band together, especially as women, we're stronger than when we are apart."

to It's amazing to see people using the costume in that way ELISABETH MOSS ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS DEMOS

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STAR ROLES Elisabeth Moss has a string of movies in the pipeline

INSPIRATIONAL Handmaid's Tale character June and, insets, protesters in Alabama and New York this month. Main pic: PA Photo/ Channel 4/George Kraychyk/Hulu/MGM
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 23, 2019
Words:1096
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