Elizabeth Moss

U.S. awarded actress Elisabeth Moss said she was optimistic on the role of women in cinema nowadays in an interview in Cannes. She was there to promote The Square, the Swedish movie that won the Palm D’Or at the French International Film Festival. But also, Elizabeth had the TV series Top of the Lake by Jane Campion. Nominated to the Emmy’s for best dramatic actress in the series The Handmaid’s Tale, Moss is with no doubt the star of the moment.

A consummate reader, Elizabeth told us about her passion to learn other cultures thorough pages and the awareness and empathy that books bring in. Moss is at the moment very busy with The Handmaid's Tale, and her motto to get all those awards is to choose good writing pieces. “Once you have a good story, a good writer, you can change the world”  

Q: Seems to me you are getting the best roles that are available

A: I am lucky, I should say. It is getting better and definitely improving. There are women that are taking it upon themselves as filmmaker, producers, studio staff or even as actresses. There are also women who are taking care that other women can get hired behind the camera but in general this positive process of inclusion has to continue to happen until this is no longer an issue. I look for pieces that are well written, that is my secret. 

Q: There is also a lot of talks about the lack of women director

A:  I'm positive but it was shocking to see that here in Cannes, Jane Campion was the only female director to have won the Golden Palm. I think you have to constantly do something and not only say just few words about something, it is key to hire women behind the camera and not just talk about it. I have seen a change so much in the past 10-15 years, the field is so competitive and there are so many incredible female performances and I have seen women win and other lose. 

Q: Your show The Handmaid’s Tale, is back to the best sellers list thanks the series

A: It’s understandable. The book is a literary masterpiece, but it’s also a feminist horror story. It imagines all our freedoms being stripped away, and the brutalized survivors being forced into a horrific new reality. Atwood rooted her fiction in fact: every outrage inflicted upon her handmaids is taken from human history, or human present. The show will touch on issues of slut shaming, rape, LGBTQ rights and female genital mutilation. All the flashbacks that explain Offred’s previous life as a typical woman and mother (her real name is June) are set in a world that is terrifyingly familiar and the idea that the USA might fall into the hands of right-wing autocrats who attack women’s rights doesn’t seem so far-fetched as it might have a year ago. 

Q: You are in Cannes with a Swedish movie, and Pedro Almodovar is the President of the Festival. Would you be interested in shooting a movie in Spain or Mexico

A: Absolutely, my Spanish is poor but if I can find a good script I would definitely. I think Pedro understands women very well. Would love to work with him. 

Q: Have you ever read any Spanish author

A: I read The Quixote which I think is the bestselling book in history. Other than that, I don’t think I did. Wait I think I read Javier Marias also. I’m very good friends with Alexis Bledel, who is also in The Handmaid’s Tale, she is half Spanish and she shares a lot of food, stories and part of her heritage with me and I truly admire the family bond we have created as friends. 

Q: It’s the Handmaid’s Tale a feminist story

A: Not just that. There are many groups that are much maligned in the show. That's what I was trying to get across and I obviously didn't say it right. I thought I didn't want to force my political agenda on other people. Now I don't give a shit and I'm just going to have to, because that's how I feel! A lot of women like me have had to recently take ownership of their feminism and become vocal and active in a way that maybe we didn't feel like we needed to before. We live in a different time. 

Q: Mad Men seem far away but help you to be where you are. Is TV your favorite medium as an actress

A: Hell, yeah, you know, I think that’s why so many kinds of cool, great, talented actresses have gone into television. There really are amazing roles for women and there is a little bit more freedom and you have bigger arcs and a bigger canvas, and so that’s why you get people like Glenn Close and Holly Hunter and these people going to television. Mad Men, when we started out, I think everybody was kind of like, well, it’s obviously called Mad Men and I think everybody was little bit like, oh wow, but there are these three female characters that are actually really complex and interesting and really well written. And I think that it’s evolved over the years and it’s one of the virtues of the show that it shows men and women in good light and bad light, that they are both flawed, that they are both incredibly imperfect, that it’s just – it’s difficult for men in that era, as it is difficult for women, you know, there is an equality to that. So, I think that the chance that we have all gotten, that me and Christina and January and now you know, Jessica have gotten to have these complex, rich female characters on television is something that I hope continues. And it’s definitely been a great gift for us, you know, because she is not – like, January is not just the housewife, Joan isn’t just the sex pot, and Peggy is not just, you know, the naïve moron, you know, they are all really complex and they have grown so much and it’s difficult to do that anywhere else but TV. So yeah, more ladies. 

Q: Mad Men changed your life

A: Being on Mad Men and having a higher profile gave me the visibility for the casting director and for the producers, and you know, money and stuff like that but at the same time I had to then go and work against Mad Men and prove that I could do something else. So, it’s a double-edged sword. It’s like you do have to kind of – it gets you there and then you have to prove that you can do something else. It gets you in the room and then you have to prove that you can do it. So, for me it was incredibly challenging in that way. And working with Jane Campion in Top of the Lake was amazing and one of the first things that she said to me on the phone is, I know that you can do vulnerable, I know. And I did.

María Estévez – Correspondent Writer