Elisabeth Moss on Shining Girls, Handmaid’s Tale, and Playing Difficult Roles

Few actors know TV like Elisabeth Moss. This 39-year-old girl, once known as “the ultimate TV queen”, has been a small screen star since she was 8 years old. She stops by classics from Fence and Animaniacs arrive Practice as a young guest star. In adulthood, she transitioned seamlessly from one era-defining hit to another: as the president’s college daughter Zoey Bartlet. West Wing; when the secretary turned on the copywriter Peggy Olson Crazy; and as leader of the Gilead resistance, June Osborne on The story of the maid. Now, while that show was in production for its fifth season, Moss was Shining Girls, a horror movie on Apple TV+ generating more rave reviews for its star.

“I certainly never predicted there would be the achievement you talk about,” she told me this week Little Golden Men (listen to the full interview below). “I just – I love television. That’s the only thing I can say. I watch a lot of things. Good television influenced me a lot as an actor growing up. Claire Danes doing My so-called life is what — when I was 13, 14 years old — showed me, oh, my God, you can act like that on TV. ”

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Now with two Emmys as an actor and producer, Moss has emerged as a full-blown power player in the midfield, developing projects from scratch and adding credits. director on her resume. You would think that the acting tests presented by projects like Crazy men or Maid, Both feature massive story arcs and unpopular nuanced commanders, which will keep Moss content. Indeed, for many actors, those are only once-in-a-lifetime roles. But the creative suspense of a rich, intense, weary character only propels her one step further. “I never wanted to make it easier for myself,” she said. “For me at this point, what is more important is how to make it harder? How do I find something I haven’t done yet? ”

Loosely adjusted from Lauren Beukes Novel, Shining girls present that opportunity. Set in ’90s Chicago, Moss plays Kirby, an archivist at Chicago Sun-Times trying to get her reporting career on track. Recovering from an attack by an unknown assailant years earlier, Kirby lives with his highly dysfunctional mother (Amy Brenneman) and experiences disorienting visions of alternate realities, dimensions, or eras, or whatever — although this is not a symptom of her trauma, but we know, but not the key to the mystery of what happened to her. The man who nearly took Kirby’s life appears to be a time-jumping serial killer named Harper (Jamie Bell), and when he identifies the next victim, we’re thrust into an intriguing, puzzling game of cat and mouse.

In particular, in the first half of the eight-episode season, Kirby had to keep quiet. Together with us, the audience, she collects details about the elusive killer. Moss has been critically acclaimed in films for horror roles such as in Ivisible man and We, but this is also different from those, as Moss found Kirby’s object proxy quality to be unusual, refreshing, and difficult to play. “People would think she was crazy. That’s the hardest thing: registering that, showing the audience that there’s some feeling or emotion about something that’s changing, but not being able to. To speak Moss said. “It happens over and over, so the remaining challenge is how do I go about doing it? How do I keep rediscovering this? How do I continue to let this happen and not make it boring? “

In Moss’ hands – her extraordinary expressive eyes, her acumen, her adept at portraying women who slowly find their voices, from Peggy to June – never is boring. The show can be hard to follow, by design, but the scenarios stay flexible; direction, division among veterinarians TV Michelle MacLaren and Daina Reid and Moss himself, establishing a clear, compelling visual language. In an age of online growth and consolidation, it feels about the furthest thing from algorithmic control.

That’s how Moss likes it. She pays close attention to how networks and studios evaluate content. With Shining Girls, created by Silka Luisa, Moss has been on a program since its inception, before it found a home, for the first time. (She signed a contract to produce and play the lead role Maid of after Hulu landed the series.) She knows exactly what to look for when the team buys potential series around town, in a brave new era for the medium that’s been home to her entire career. she. “Apple TV+ felt like it had this hunger and it had a need for new materials — and I noticed that almost everything I did was at home at the time,” says Moss.

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/05/awards-insider-elisabeth-moss-shining-girls-little-gold-men Elisabeth Moss on Shining Girls, Handmaid’s Tale, and Playing Difficult Roles

Sarah Ridley

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