Elisabeth Moss has addressed criticisms that it was “hypocritical” for her to star in The Handmaid’s Tale while belonging to the Scientology religion.
The actor plays June Osborne, otherwise known as Offred, in the hit dystopian show. Her character is frequently seen rebelling against the oppressive, patriarchal society of Gilead, which maltreats women and the LGBTQ community. Scientology has been accused of promoting homophobia due to founder L. Ron Hubbard calling homosexuality an illness.
In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Moss was asked what her response to criticisms that Scientology is “at odds” with the themes of the show was. The star replied: “Listen, it’s a complicated thing because the things that I believe in, I can only speak to my personal experience and my personal beliefs. One of the things I believe in is freedom of speech. I believe we as humans should be able to critique things. I believe in freedom of the press. I believe in people being able to speak their own opinions.”
She added: “The Handmaid’s Tale lines up so perfectly parallel with my own beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the things that this country was actually built on.”
Moss said working on the show was a “strange situation” because it tackles the “two things you’re never supposed to talk about at a dinner – politics or religion.” “I choose to express myself in my work and my art,” she explained. “I don’t choose to express myself about it in interviews. I don’t choose to talk about not just religion, but my personal life – who I’m dating and that kind of thing.
“So for me, it’s so hard to unpack in a sound bite or an interview, but I will say that the things that I truly believe in are the things that I’ve mentioned, and I think that they’re very important. I think people should be allowed to talk about what they want to talk about and believe what they want to believe and you can’t take that away – and when you start to take that away, when you start to say ‘you can’t think that,’ ‘you can’t believe that,’ ‘you can’t say that,’ then you get into trouble. Then you get into Gilead.”
Asked about Hubbard’s standings on sexual orientation, she said she didn’t agree with his anti-LGBTQ views. “I am obviously a huge feminist and huge supporter of the LGBTQ community and believe so strongly – I can’t even tell you – in people being able to do what they want to do, to love who they want to love, to be the person that they want to be – whoever that is,” she said.
“To me, it’s a huge reason why I love doing the show. That’s all I can say. I can’t speak to what other people believe, I can’t speak to what other people’s experiences have been. That’s where I stand and the only place I can speak from is my own.”
Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale is due to return in the US on June 5, 2019. Channel 4, who air the programme in the UK, have yet to confirm when it will return to British screens.
Meanwhile, last year, author Margaret Atwood confirmed she was writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, 15 years after the book was first published. The new novel will be called The Testaments and will be released in September 2019.