Bradley Whitford’s Real Feelings About His Mostly Villainous Character On The Handmaid’s Tale

Fans have gone wild for the season 5 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale. Following a few notable shake-ups over the years, including the departure of Alexis Bledel’s Emily/Ofglen, there seems to be a real cohesion to the story moving forward. While The Handmaid’s Tale is still disturbing and thought-provoking, it’s also managing to subvert expectations in a way that’s downright entertaining. There’s no doubt that how Bradley Whitford’s Gilead Commander Lawrence is written is one of the reasons why.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Get Out and The West Wing star Bradley Whitford was really honest about what he thinks about his character and whether he’s actually not as bad as he appears.

Is Gilead Commander Lawrence A Good Guy?

What makes Bradley Whitford’s Commander Lawrence so interesting is that fans still ask whether or not he’s a « good guy ». While the quick answer to this question appears to be a resounding ‘no’, throughout the course of the telling, audiences have gotten to see other dimensions of the character. In particular, his guilt for helping to create Gilead in the first place. Additionally, his complicated relationship with Elisabeth Moss’ June seems far less aggressive than the one she has with Serena.

When Bradley Whitford first was asked to appear in The Handmaid’s Tale, he really didn’t know much about the role. He knew that Commander Lawrence was both « eccentric » and « brilliant », but not much else.

« It was told to me they were thinking he might become very powerful again in Gilead, » Bradley Whitford said to The Hollywood Reporter. « But, trust me: You don’t know; and they don’t know. I don’t think any show knows exactly where the series is going, because it’s a dance between the alchemy of the cast, the alchemy of the actors with the writing, how the audience responds and what works. I knew it was a potentially really interesting part and potentially a big part of the show. But, initially, I didn’t even know if I was going to be back on season three. »

As Bradley’s character was promoted to a series regular, he was able to help craft the character alongside the writer. As he explained in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, there was a healthy « back and forth » between the cast and the writers in terms of filling out the character.

« When you get into year five of a show with actors who, in my opinion, are profoundly good actors across the board, the writers are in a very difficult position, » Bradley explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

« [Series creator] Bruce [Miller] said something very interesting to me when he first said I could have the opportunity to direct. He said, “The interesting thing about this show is that the script is often lying. And as a director, you’re trying to tell the truth of a situation where the script is often lying.” And I do think that is true. »

What Does Bradley Whitford Think About Commander Lawrence In The Handmaid’s Tale?

It’s so very clear that Bradley Whitford is enthralled with the writing on The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s offered him the experience to develop a multi-dimensional villain that tends to steal the show, particularly at the end of the fifth season. But what does Bradley actually think about the character he plays?

« My fundamental belief about Lawrence is that he’s a guy with a huge brain where, in this particular circumstance, his brain and ambition obliterated his humanity, » Bradley Whitford admitted to The Hollywood Reporter.

« I say this in the show: He was using these religious nutjobs as a delivery system for his ideas at a moment of crisis, and then it went crazy. One of the great things about Lawrence is his true and great love of Eleanor. And he killed her. He knows that he destroyed her, whatever the logistics of the end were. I think he feels like he has to make this better and that it’s a bit of redemption for a sin he’ll never fully atone for. »

According to Bradley, Commander Lawrence also believes that June’s idea of a « fantasy utopia of democracy » nearly destroyed the planet. While many (including himself, at times) see his political ideology as dangerous, he genuinely believes the alternative side has a way worse perspective. And yet, Lawrence continues to invite June into his life. Clearly, he sees some need for balance.

« This is an idea that [The Handmaid’s Tale author] Margaret Atwood talks about all the time. I’ve lived my entire life thinking that democracy is inevitable. But it rarely happens, and it rarely works for long, » Bradley explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

« I think Lawrence is basically saying, ‘Stop. These self-centered guerilla actions, which by the way leave this trail of carnage behind you, are all in service of an idea that doesn’t exist anymore. Functional democracy in that world’ — and unfortunately, maybe in our real world — ‘maybe it just doesn’t work. Yes this is monstrous, but you can’t get rid of it and replace it with Vermont. But you know what we can do? Maybe we can stop the r***. Maybe if we show what this kind of Hong Kong openness can do to Gilead, maybe we can start these reforms.’ That’s the argument they’re having. »