Why did Joseph Fiennes leave The Handmaid’s Tale, and his role of Fred Waterford? You may be wondering after that season 4 finale how they came to the decision to kill his character off now. We do, after all, have an abundance of cases these days where actors willingly decide to leave their shows. It just happened with Antonia Thomas on The Good Doctor and it’s coming up with Megan Boone on The Blacklist.
In this case though, there is no evidence that Fiennes asked to leave this role, or that there was any behind-the-scenes controversy. Instead, the long-awaited death of Fred came about in the finale simply because it was time. This was a creative choice, and one that has been in the works for a good while.
Have you watched our review yet of The Handmaid’s Tale finale? If not, we highly suggest that you take a look at that below! Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Matt & Jess on YouTube for more Handmaid’s Tale videos. We also have coverage there for The Blacklist and the upcoming seasons of Animal Kingdom and Power Book III: Raising Kanan.
In a new interview with Deadline, Fiennes himself noted that he and showrunner Bruce Miller had spoken about the end of Fred’s time on the show years ago; it was mostly a matter of finding the right moment:
Bruce knew, like Margaret Atwood knew, that it was alluded to somewhere in the book that a certain Fred Waterford would get his comeuppance via a Salvaging, but when and by whom it didn’t explicitly say.
So, I always knew somehow it was going to be introduced into the narrative, and Bruce very kindly at the end of each season, we’d have a coffee and a chat about how things are going or where things might go again. I remember it was end of Season 2, he very kindly said hey, listen, just a heads-up that the time for the Commander might be up around about next season. That was at the end of Season 2, and then I was furiously reading through all the episodes as we were shooting Season 3, and nothing happened. I was like, Bruce, what’s going on? And then we had a catch-up, and he said no, I think Season 4. So, very kindly, he kept me a year more than I thought I was due to stay, but I kind of had an inkling early on.
Fred’s death made perfect sense for June’s story. She finally had a moment where she could enact her own brand of justice on him after the system failed to do so, and that wasn’t going to be a moment that she wasted. Fred caused her so much pain and it was a way to inflict some of that back. It also catapults June further into whatever the next phase is of her life is, which we imagine will be joining a further resistance against Gilead. She’s not going to be capable of just sitting back in Canada; she wants to fight, and will do whatever she can in order to succeed.
What do you think about the way Fred was written out of The Handmaid’s Tale?
Let us know right now in the attached comments! (Photo: Hulu.)
This article was written by Jess Carter. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.