The hallways of the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills are hushed and dark and nearly empty. The doors to certain rooms are marked with women’s names: SAMIRA, ALEXIS, ELISABETH. When those doors swing open to allow you in, the woman on the other side will be very beautiful. She will be made-up, coiffed, nicely dressed, very poised. She will be eager to greet you, to speak with you, to answer all of your questions.
My door is labeled MADELINE, and it grants me access to Madeline Brewer, the 25-year-old actress who plays Janine on Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, launching its second season Wednesday, April 25. You might remember Janine from when she lost an eye as punishment for disobedience in an early episode, or for her midseason pregnancy, or from the finale, in which she and the baby—sorry, no spoilers, but if you saw it, you know.
Today, Brewer is sitting in a sunlit corner of a well-appointed suite, wearing an orange minidress and high, strappy heels. She is waiting patiently for me to come pepper her with questions about her career (her first role, straight out of college, was an addict named Tricia on Orange Is the New Black; Brewer also appeared on Netflix’s Hemlock Grove and Black Mirror before landing Janine) and perhaps her personal life (she had dinner with Nick Jonas once, and it made a lot of headlines).
I’ve been watching Handmaid’s Tale screeners all morning, previewing its somehow-even-more-fucked-up-than-the first second season, so I come in rattled: There’s something about the contrast between the dark hallways and well-lit jewel box room, the fresh fruit on platters and the publicist in the corner, monitoring our conversation, that feels ominous. But Madeline—she introduces herself as Maddie—is no cowed Handmaid, or even an actress media-trained into giving good sound bite. She’s funny, wry and charming, especially once she warms up to you.
And that’s important to her, that she makes people feel safe and welcomed. Brewer deals with anxiety and depression, which sometimes manifests as social anxiety. “I approach situations with a little more, I like to hope, empathy,” she says. “Because I don’t want to ever hurt someone. I’m a little fragile in that way, because I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to make sure everyone’s comfortable.”
Luckily, she says, her coworkers share the same ethos: “Lizzie [Elisabeth Moss, who plays the show’s lead, June] is the kind of person who scoops you into a big hug when she first sees you, and is like, ‘How are you?’ And you don’t feel like it’s a formality. There’s never been a moment where I’ve felt any level of weird animosity or competition [on set],” Brewer reports, “which I know that there can be. I’ve been on shows where someone was like, ‘You’re in my shot.’ A man. I was like, ‘Excuse me for existing.’”
I recoil. Brewer shrugs. “People do that. It’s the nature of our business! We’re all a little bit vain. We put our faces on a screen and expect people to look at them.” She gestures at the mirrored wall behind her. “I did all of my phone interviews while staring myself in the face. I’m not kidding. I don’t care. I’ll admit it! And I’m just, like, checking myself out. Like I don’t see enough of myself.”
The pressure put on everyone in Hollywood—but particularly young actresses—to appear a certain way means that Brewer is especially grateful for the unprettiness of the characters she portrays on screen, which allow her to escape, even briefly, that type of self-scrutiny. “I find myself most comfortable in something opposite of me, because I live in the Instagram age,” she says. “So it’s really, really liberating as a person, but also as a character, to not be like, ‘I hope I look thin in this.’ I don’t think about that when I’m wearing six layers of robes.”
Letting go of aesthetic concerns helps keep her centered in her performance. On Orange Is the New Black, Tricia was a prisoner worried about feeding her addiction, and whether her girlfriend would leave her once they weren’t serving time in adjacent cells; Janine lives in a misogynist dystopia in which her only role is to deliver viable, healthy babies for a man who owns her like property.
“They don’t give a shit about what they look like,” Brewer says of her characters. “They don’t care! I mean, there is a deep part of Janine that’s like, ‘I have one eye—who will ever love me?’ but that’s a whole other can of worms. On her day-to-day, Janine doesn’t get up and think about what her arms look like. ‘Should I do more push-ups?’ She doesn’t give a shit.”
Brewer, however, lives in America, which may get compared to The Handmaid’s Tale’s Gilead, but isn’t there yet. So she copes with her reality the way most of us do. She decompresses from the intensity of her work by taking long baths: “If it’s been a particularly emotional day, sometimes I go home and cry in the bath, and then I go to bed,” she says. But no matter what, “There’s always a bath. Whether it’s been a good day, bad day, what have you, there’s always a bath. Working or not, there is a bath.”
She favors Lush bath oils for keeping her skin smooth. “I’m super dry,” she reports. “I’m like the driest person. I got a facial yesterday, and the person was like, ‘We need to help you.’” (To be fair, she notes, she’s been traveling like crazy—Los Angeles, Toronto, New York—which tends to take a toll on the complexion.)
Brewer does use Instagram, though not just for selfies. It’s a part of her creative practice, helping her more deeply imagine Janine’s experiences of motherhood—especially important since Brewer doesn’t have kids of her own.
“I actually have a Finstagram, like a burner Instagram,” she explains, “and on it I have pictures of babies I don’t know, which is weird. I have a lot of pictures on my phone of random people’s babies that I found on the internet that I imagine [Janine’s children] might look like, just to try. I pick the ones I think kind of look like me. It’s just this weird thing that I do.”
She also has a manifestation Instagram, “because I’m one of those people. But it’s mostly reminders, reminding myself, keep going, whatever.”
For someone with self-reported anxiety, she seems very open, friendly and willing to chat about just about anything. Is that a decision she made, I ask, to discuss all of these topics so honestly? Brewer laughs. No, she says. This is “just me.”
“You’re not gonna probably ever have a conversation with me where some level of my anxiety won’t come up,” she explains. “That’s just who I am. I have anxiety. It’s a pain in my ass like you would not believe. I have anxiety-induced depression where I can’t get off the couch for days. And that’s fine! That’s who I am. It’s people. That’s just what people are. People who don’t have anxiety, fuck you! No, I’m kidding. I’m just kidding. Everyone has their shit.”
Madeline is in attendance tonight at the 2018 Emmy awards and she looks stunning!! This post will serve as a master post of photos and videos of her at the event. I will update this post with new links to photos and videos so be sure to check back! Enjoy!
Madeline has been out this weekend attending pre-Emmy events in honor of The Handmaid’s Tale nominations. We’re so excited for her and the series! The Emmy awards are tomorrow night so be sure to tune in. Check out photos from her attendance at pre-Emmy events. She looks magical at the events. I’ll update this post with new photos as they surface. Enjoy!
September 14 – Audi Celebrates The Emmys
September 15 – Television Academy Honors Emmy Nominated Performers
September 15 – Entertainment Weekly Pre-Emmy Party
September 15 – Variety And Women In Film Pre-Emmy Celebration
September 15 – BAFTA LA + BBC America TV Tea Party
2018 – Photo Session #011
September 12 – “Assasination Nation” LA Premiere – recent additions
I just want to say, this is my most favorite photo session of her!! My goodness, she can’t be real. hehe. / end fangirl rant
What is your favorite place to be? To live?
My hometown Pitman, on my front porch with my best friends. I love living in LA and NYC but to be happiest, I need to be near lots and lots of trees.
Favorite thing about the place where you grew up?
It’s my home! It’s tiny. You can walk the entire thing easily. The people there are so supportive and it was a nice place to grow up.
Your favorite was of spending time when you are between jobs?
I love hiking, being in the trees, but i also love to lay on the couch and binge entire docu-series.
Favorite way to do so in your downtime on set?
I read voraciously when I’m working.
I can think of a million thoughts on this question, but what are your favorite things about the character of Janine/Ofwarren?
She’s a badass. Janine looks like someone who has been broken but she really is quite the opposite. There’s always something left to be discovered with her as a woman and a character that is endlessly fascinating to me.
Hedgehog is a movie you recently starred in and produced. It’s a lovely film. What were your favorite and least favorite aspects of producing?
Ah producing in the capacity in which I produced on Hedgehog didn’t involve a lot of actual producing.
Was this your first undertaking into a behind-the-camera responsibility?
Yes although I learn so much through every job. I definitely want to spend more time learning about producing and writing and directing so I can eventually be more hands on in those departments.
You also are cast once again against the incomparable Ann Dowd. What is your favorite thing about working with Ann? About Ann in general?
YES! Ann is a generous, intelligent, warm hug of a human being. I love working with her as an actor because I learn so much about what it is to be gracious and an incredibly hard worker. Ann is a very dear person to me. She is a confidante and friend and comedian and mentor. She’s the best, really.
What is the favorite question somebody has ever asked you in an interview?
Oh I love any questions in which I get to gush about the people i work with.
Just a few things I would like to know about you that I couldn’t figure out how to frame within my (probably tedious) thread above:
In my research for speaking with you, it appears that OITNB was your first professional hiring. Is that the case? Could you talk a bit about how that opportunity came about?
Yes! I had spoken with an agency in NYC after they had seen me in a showcase at my college. I was about to graduate and go to do a musical in Connecticut for a few months. When I got back and was looking for apartments in NYC, I was working at Victorias Secret, and this agency thought we should just start sending me out for some TV stuff just to try it out. First audition, I booked Tricia. I went into that room shaking like a leaf, didn’t have my lines memorized, I was completely terrified. Thankfully, Jen Euston saw potential where anyone else would have seen a scared little girl.
Was it your first acting experience – what were you doing when that was happening acting or otherwise. After getting the job were you terrified?
I did theater since I was 7 so i wasn’t unfamiliar with acting in general but i was TERRIFIED when I was on set. Everyone was so kind and helpful. Once, they called second team and I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t move. Lea Delaria just grabbed me and said something like, Hey come here. If you have any questions at all feel free to ask. I remember what it was like to be on set for the first time.
You imbue each person you play with a beautiful purity, even in the women who aren’t necessarily pure. Do you specifically make a point of finding this emotional arm within the person you play or does it just come about naturally through your, for lack of a better word here, performance?
I do think I try to find an element of vulnerability in every character. I find their “weak” spots. Their moments that make them more human than just character. I’ve been lucky to be on shows in which the writing is outstanding. The writers do most of the work in making these characters whole and nuanced.
What is on the horizon for you in your work both completed and coming up?
My film Cam will be on Netflix by the end of this year I think! I’m so, so proud of that film and the story it’s telling. It’s about a cam girl, a camera sex worker, who in the world of online porn has her identity stolen and she fights to get it back.
Just a few more Favorite questions –
Favorite dress you’ve ever worn?
I wore a Georges Chakra dress earlier this year that made me feel like a punk rock cinderella.
Favorite pair of shoes you own?
I like kicks. I will wear sneakers to any event if you’ll let me (which no one ever does).
Favorite piece of jewelry?
I have a bracelet that says “fucking psychotic” on it. My boyfriend got it for me after knowing me for all of a week. He sees me!
Favorite hair color?
RED. I miss the blonde sometimes but redheads have more fun
Favorite beauty product?
I use mostly all natural Aesop products. My cleanser and exfoliant are Kate Somervile and they are perfect for my skin. I have a Natura Bisse facial peel that is my FAVORITE.
Favorite beauty secret?
My teeth are white as heck since I started brushing with activated charcoal.
Favorite way to end an interview?
Eating food. let’s go!
Madeline was out yesterday and recently and I’ve added photos to the gallery, as well as recent scans and photo sessions. She looks so lovely in all the photos. I’m in awe of her style. Enjoy the photos. I’ll add more as they surface. I have a lot more photos to add in the coming weeks so be sure to check back!
Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins, Camille Rowe, The Handmaid Tale‘s Madeline Brewer, and Ray Nicholson (son of Jack Nicholson) will star in the indie drama Now Is Everything, along with Mickey Sumner, Brad Greenquist, Rits Taggard, and newcomer Georgian-American actor Irakli Kvirikadze. Valentina De Amicis and Riccardo Federico Spinotti are co-directing the film, which was written by Amicis, Spinotti, and Matt Handy.
The pic follows fashion photographer, Nicolas Yarna (Kvirikadze), emotionally devastated by the death of his younger brother, Cedric (Nicholson). The mysterious disappearance of Nicolas’ girlfriend, Matilda (Rowe), leads him into a journey of his unconscious where he discovers love and the absence of love.
Two-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Dante Spinotti (LA Confidential, The Insider) is producing the pic with Marcella Spinotti and Heather Kritzer. Markus Bishop-Hill and Stephanie Rennie will serve as executive producers.
Four-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Alice In Wonderland) is also on board. Filming is slated to begin this summer in Los Angeles. The film does not yet have distribution but is intended for the major film festival circuit in 2019.
Netflix is getting a head start on festival season by acquiring the thriller “Cam.”
The film, which premiered at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, stars Madeline Brewer (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Patch Darragh (“The First Purge”), Melora Walters (“Venom”), and Devin Druid (“13 Reasons Why”).
The horror movie is a technology-driven psychological thriller set in the world of webcam porn. It follows Alice (Brewer), an ambitious camgirl, who wakes up one day to discover she’s been replaced on her show with an exact replica of herself. As this copy begins to push the boundaries of Alice’s internet identity, the control that Alice has over her life, and the men in it, vanishes. While she struggles to regain what she’s lost, she slowly finds herself drawn back to her show and to the mysterious person who has taken her place.
Daniel Goldhaber directed the pic, which will be co-financed by Blumhouse Productions and Gunpowder & Sky and produced by Divide/Conquer. Goldhaber also co-wrote the story with Isabelle Link-Levy and Isa Mazzei, who penned the script. Link-Levy, Adam Hendricks, John Lang, Greg Gilreath are producing.
“Cam” was one of the big winners of the festival, taking home awards for best first feature and best screenplay.
This morning the list for the 2018 Emmy nominations was announced. In this list The Handmaid’s Tale was nominated for several awards including:
Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series
The Crown • Netflix
Game Of Thrones • HBO
The Handmaid’s Tale • Hulu
Stranger Things • Netflix
Westworld • HBO
Tune in Monday, September 17 for the 70th Emmy Awards on NBC.
What an amazing season 2 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale!! I am still processing it. haha. I can’t wait for season 3.
I’ve added HD screencaps of Madeline from the episode. Enjoy!
Madeline was in attendance at Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Finale Event last night along with the rest of the amazing cast. I have added photos from the event and panel session to the gallery. Enjoy!