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One on One with Handmaid's Tale Actor Yvonne Strahovski

The Australian actor on the hit drama series, playing Angry Birds and narwhal envy.

Yvonne Strahovski

Hometown Sydney

Home Base Malibu, California

Claim to Fame Film and television actor with roles in series like Chuck and Dexter

Current Project Playing Serena Joy Waterford in the award-winning TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, back for a second season this month

Dream Destination “Top of my list is Everest Base Camp in Nepal. I’ll cry when I finally get there.”

How do you get into the psyche of a wicked character like Serena Joy Waterford?
At first, it was difficult to flip into that mode. In the script, when she’s throwing Offred on the floor, she obviously seems evil, but I have to ask myself, why is she doing this? And I think it’s because she’s so isolated. She can’t trust or confide in her husband, and she’s not open with any of the other wives the same way that the handmaids are with one another.

Why do you think this story is resonating right now?
A number of women’s issues have come up since the last U.S. election, from pay equity to sexual assault allegations. The show touches on all of that in a really raw and unnerving way, and speaks to people’s deep concerns about where we’re heading or what we might be doing to repeat history.

You’ve been exploring Canada while filming in Ontario. Any highlights?
I went to Churchill, Manitoba, to see polar bears and it was extraordinary. We saw 17 in one day; two came up close to our buggy. I’m fascinated by Canadian wildlife because it couldn’t be more opposite to Australia’s – you have caribou and snowy owls and narwhals and you can see them all if you just go up north and bear the cold.

What’s your routine for the long flights back to Australia?
I like to arm myself with a pack of pretzels, a book, a mind-numbing game that you can play on your phone – WordBrain when I’m more awake and Angry Birds when I’m not – and a little vial of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil.