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How a star in 'The Handmaid's Tale' got her part because of a horrible play

Business Insider | Sep 13, 2017, 06.10PM IST

Serena Joy and Offred Handmaid's tale episode three side shot

Hulu

Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski in Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale."

With 13 Emmy nominations, "The Handmaid's Tale" proves that Hulu is a major player in original programming.

Not only did the show get a lot of nominations, it also deserves to win most (if not all) of them, especially its performances.

"The Handmaid's Tale" is an adaptation of the dystopian Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, and stars Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Ann Dowd, Joseph Fiennes, and more.

Business Insider recently talked to the show's Emmy-nominated casting directors, Sharon Bialy and Sherry Thomas, who also worked on a little show you might have heard of called "Breaking Bad."

One actor Bialy and Thomas fought to get into "The Handmaid's Tale" was Yvonne Strahovski, in the role of Serena Joy, The Commander's wife. And Strahovski fought for the part as well.

Bialy told Business Insider that she saw Strahovski in a play that she hated. But she loved her performance so much that she wanted to cast her as Serena Joy.

"When you feel strongly about someone, if you could articulate why you felt that person was a match, Hulu really respected that," Bialy said. "They wanted to make sure their show stood out, so initially - like many networks - they were interested in some main actors. And I give them so much credit because when we were passionate about the right actor they gave their blessing. So often we have very creative disagreements. That never happens on this show. Yvonne Strahovski . . . people knew her from other work ["Chuck," "Dexter"], and might not have seen her in this role. I had just seen her in a play in New York, and I remembered telling Hulu I really didn't like the play, and they asked me why I loved her. Our job as casting directors is never to suppress somebody's work so that when somebody says, 'I didn't like them in such and such,' we can say, 'Well you need to see this, this, and this.' Or, we say we saw them in a play, where we truly get to see an actor's work. And I think that's when Hulu was really amenable to listening."

After seeing her on stage, Bialy and Thomas asked Strahovski to read for the part.

According to Thomas, Strahovski fell in love with the script immediately. "She had the adage of, 'I will do whatever you need to get this part,' and we all responded to that," Thomas said. "She's that level of actor that she really has no ego. She waited a long time while the decision was made, while the pieces of the puzzle were coming together, and you know it was the right move to make."

Strahovski's incredible performance was not nominated for an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama, although her co-stars Ann Dowd and Samira Wiley are up for the award at Sunday night's ceremony. Joseph Fiennes, who plays Serena Joy's husband, is up for outstanding supporting actor, Elisabeth Moss is up for outstanding actress in a leading role, and Alexis Bledel already won a Creative Arts Emmy for outstanding guest actress.

Bialy and Thomas were nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy for casting, but lost the award to "Stranger Things."

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