Joseph Fiennes Set as Male Lead in Hulu's 'The Handmaid's Tale'

He'll star opposite Elisabeth Moss and Samira Wiley in the take on Margaret Atwood's book.
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Joseph Fiennes

Hulu has found its leading man for The Handmaid's Tale.

American Horror Story and Shakespeare in Love star Joseph Fiennes has been cast as the male lead in the streaming giant's take on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Picked up straight to series, the 10-episode drama stars Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss and tells the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the U.S. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalism that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Moss) is a handmaid in the commander's household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. She is forced to navigate between commanders, their cruel wives, domestic "Marthas" (servants) and her fellow handmaids — where anyone could be a spy for Gilead — all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter who was taken from her.  

Fiennes will star as Cmdr. Fred Waterford, a founding father of Gilead and a powerful, high-ranking official who rules the household where Offred is a handmaid.

Bruce Miller (The 100) penned the script for the MGM TV entry and will executive produce alongside Daniel Wilson (feature film The Handmaid's Tale), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents) and Warren Littlefield (Fargo). Ilene Chaiken (Empire, The L Word) also will exec produce. Atwood is on board as a consulting producer on the property, which was adapted as a feature film in 1990 starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall. The Hulu drama will premiere in 2017 with production starting in the fall in Toronto. The cast includes Orange Is the New Black's Samira Wiley, Max Minghella, Ann Dowd and Madeline Brewer. Reed Morano will direct and exec produce the first three episodes.

For Fiennes, the role marks his return to series regular television following the second season of FX anthology American Horror Story. His TV credits include Camelot and FlashForward. On the feature side, his roles include the BAFTA-nominated lead in Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth and The Merchant of Venice. Fiennes is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Artists Partnership.

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