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Handmaid’s Tale: Joseph Fiennes refused to film rape scene and had it removed from script

Joseph Fiennes refused to film a rape scene in The Handmaid’s Tale and instead persuaded the programme-makers to remove it from the script.

Fiennes plays Commander Fred Waterford in the dystopian television drama, and the scene required him to rape his wife, Serena (Yvonne Strahovski).

“I guess in many ways, as abhorrent and nasty and evil as Fred is, I have to defend parts of him,” the British actor told Entertainment Weekly.

“In episode nine, we had a moment where Fred was going to rape Serena in a hotel room…. and it just didn’t track with me. I had to go out on a limb and refuse to do it because I felt that even though Fred is who he is, he’s human.”

Fiennes said he made his case to the writers via “long emails and defending and pushing”, arguing that his character would not be “trying to heavily persuade his wife to do something that she wouldn’t want to do”. The actor said he was “battling for human nuance within a very dark character”.

The first series of the drama, shown on Channel 4, was based on the book by Margaret Atwood. The second series moves beyond the events of the novel.

Earlier this year, Keira Knightley spoke out against the prevalence of rape scenes on screen.

“I don’t really do films set in the modern day because the female characters nearly always get raped,” she said. “I always find something distasteful in the way women are portrayed, whereas I’ve always found very inspiring characters offered to be in historical pieces.”

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