“This was the only part that from the moment I heard that they were auditioning I knew it was mine.” – Amanda Brugel
Actress Amanda Brugel plays a character on the streaming smash hit The Handmaiden’s Tale that wasn’t allowed to say much during the first season in a show set in an ultra-repressed society. That has changed by the end of the second season and Brugel is excited to embrace a new layer to her character, Rita. Speaking with Vulture, Brugel explains why she wouldn’t have taken “no” for an answer when it came to this role and how she has overcome the challenges of playing her character.
Brugel reveals that when she went on her audition with a chip on her shoulder because of how much she wanted the role (she had received a scholarship for writing an essay on Margaret Atwood’s novel years before). She recalls, “I walked and announced to all the girls sitting in the waiting room to go home. Even though I said it as a joke, I meant it in my soul. This was the only part that from the moment I heard that they were auditioning I knew it was mine. It had to be. I wasn’t accepting any other answer.”
However, that ambition to play the part didn’t mean that Brugel thought that it would be easy — and it isn’t, particularly because of the lack of dialogue. She explains, “It’s been the most challenging job of my life. Actors rely on dialogue to communicate. Not having anything to say other than ‘praise be’ is really difficult at the beginning. To combat this, I write out a monologue for myself, or my own opinion of what she would say. I also rely on physicality. I put rocks in my left shoe — rocks from the gravel outside the trailer door in Toronto — to give her a limp. I rely on breath or blinking. As an actor, it has changed the way I approach every role.”
But that doesn’t mean that she was relieved when her character finally got to speak — because it was almost like playing a completely different character. She gives credit to series star Elisabeth Moss for helping her feel comfortable with her character’s new dimension. Brugel says, “It was a season-and-a-half of me mostly silent and I got very comfortable in that. Suddenly, I had to find a voice of this character that was voiceless, and I was insecure about it. When we started rehearsing the scene, that fear melted away. I have such a wonderful off-camera relationship with Elisabeth Moss that it just felt like me and my girlfriend finally being able to show our connection onscreen. That really helped me find her voice.”