There are not many good men in Gilead. There aren’t even many men in Gilead about whom you might reasonably feel conflicted; the misgoynist dystopia at the heart of The Handmaid’s Tale is populated by sociopathic Commanders and power-crazed Guardians whose every worst impulse is fostered by the society in which they live. But Max Minghella’s Nick is the exception. Though seemingly a loyal employee to the Waterfords and an effective agent of Gilead, it becomes clear by the end of Season 1 that Nick’s stoical exterior belies a rebellious spirit, and that his love for June (Elisabeth Moss) is very, very real.
BAZAAR.com sat down with Minghella to discuss shooting June and Nick’s intense sex scenes, that devastating turn in Episode 12, and why Season 2 has felt so much darker to him than Season 1.
Harper’s BAZAAR: I’m still not really over Nick and Luke [O. T. Fagbenle] meeting for the first time in Episode 9. Was that scene as intense to shoot as it was to watch?
Max Minghella: There was definitely a lot of anticipation about that scene on the creative side, and Lizzie [Moss] herself was really involved in how it played out. For me, it was so much fun to finally work with O. T.! This is a funny show, because we all get along so well but most of us haven’t spent much time together. We all work in these little segregated groups, and I work almost exclusively with Lizzie [Moss] and occasionally with Yvonne [Strahovski] and Joe [Fiennes]. What was thrilling about the Canada episode was finally getting to engage with these other parts of the world. O. T. and I are very different people, which is smart casting because Nick and Luke are also wildly different. It’s a smart dichotomy with these two men, which I think reflects two sides of June.
HB: So Elisabeth Moss was involved with developing that scene?
MM: Yeah, she’s very involved in everything. People obviously know that she stars in the show, but I don’t think people realize how much she really produces the show. It’s far from a vanity credit, she really is our day-to-day producer, and is very, very much involved in the scripts and the edits. But she cared in particular about that scene, and I think as a fan of the show herself she wanted to make sure it really played out right.
HB: I was very suspicious of Nick throughout Season 1, and even now it’s sometimes unclear how involved he is with the resistance versus Gilead. What is his deal?
MM: What I love about playing Nick is that he’s someone who is always lying, to a degree. But I’m very defensive of him because I play him, so I’ve never had those suspicions about his moral compass. I love that he is a very romantic character—I’m a very romantic person in real life, so that’s something I like tapping into and channeling. In this show, which is so often bleak and difficult, Nick’s a part of the narrative that is hopefully cathartic. When I go to set in the morning to shoot a scene with Lizzie, I always feel like it’s nice to be bringing something slightly less intense for a few hours, slightly less dark.
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Source: Harper’s Bazaar