If there were a Serena Joy Waterford Fan Club, Genevieve Angelson‘s Mrs. Wheeler would be well-suited for the role of president.
The new Handmaid’s Tale character, who’ll debut in the Hulu drama’s upcoming Season 5, is a well-off Canadian woman who really admires the captive commander’s wife and what she’s accomplished.
To be clear: What Serena has helped build is a brutally misogynistic society that thinks the best way to goose falling birth rates is to engage in ritual rape. But in the grand tradition of actors having to empathize with their characters in order to play them faithfully, Angelson says she understands why Mrs. Wheeler thinks Serena is the bee’s knees.
“I am tempted to say that, in reality, there are no villains. And while Serena is ‘the bad guy’ on the show, Serena also is coming up with very painful solutions to a very painful problem,” Angelson tells TVLine. “She’s going to drastic ends.”
Similarly, she continues, “In order to play Mrs. Wheeler, I couldn’t say ‘I’m playing a bad guy.’ I had to say, ‘I’m playing someone who’s willing to do anything to continue the human race, and that’s what we’re up against. So, do I want to be the person I am being? Maybe not. But I am accepting that is my reality, that is what I’m doing. That was how I got by with that.”
Gladys Wheeler also is one of the driving forces behind the rise of Gilead in Toronto — an idea that may seem like anathema to viewers who watched June toil four seasons to escape Gilead’s crushing rule. Oh, and speaking of June? “I think [Mrs. Wheeler] certainly knows who she is,” Angelson says, adding: “I think she thinks she is poison.” — With reporting by Keisha Hatchett
The Handmaid’s Tale will return on Wednesday, Sept. 14, with a two-episode premiere. Single episodes will follow weekly.