When it comes to his most memorable audition story, “The Handmaid’s Tale” star Joseph Fiennes has a really good one. As it turns out, it revolves around a key role in the “Star Wars” prequels.
In an interview with TheWrap, Fiennes was coy at first, not dropping the name of the film or its director, but provided enough clues to tip us off. (Waving your hands around like you’re holding a lightsaber isn’t exactly subtle.)
“I auditioned for a great director,” Fiennes said as he began his story. “It was whittled down after many auditions to myself and another fine actor who I was at that time at drama school with.”
TheWrap confirmed later that the actor in question was indeed Ewan McGregor. Fiennes and McGregor attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London around the same time.
Fiennes recalled moving forward to the next level in the audition process and getting to audition in front of a director (yes it was George Lucas) and casting director Robin Gurland. After he was done, he went over to them.
Fiennes met somebody’s daughter at that time, “a lovely, delightful child,” he said. “Must’ve been around age five — and he introduced me, ‘this is Joe and he’s quite possibly Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
At first, Fiennes said he was honored.
“His daughter turned around and said ‘I don’t like this guy. He’s weird. I don’t like him.’ And that’s how my audition went,” Fiennes recalled.
And that’s how his “Star Wars” dreams came to a screeching halt. Of course, the role of the venerated Jedi master went to McGregor and the rest is blockbuster history.
On the complete opposite side of the fiction spectrum is Fiennes’ current project. He is starring in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” as Commander Fred Waterford, who hosts Offred (Elizabeth Moss) in his home. He and Offred form an uncomfortable but unique relationship in which he seeks to give her some semblance of normalcy while also still acknowledging the horrible conditions under which she and other women have to live.
“The material is pretty complex and gnarly and horrific and seeing the effects of what my character puts on other people and seeing the way Lizzie Moss and her extraordinary performance delivers the ramifications of those effects,” he said, noting what part of filming “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been the toughest. “That was pretty tough because it was relentless. It was every day.”
But it’s work that Fiennes enjoys, as he and the other members of the cast and crew often rejoiced in what they were making.
“To be able to celebrate something… it’s very rare that thing happens,” he said.
Stuart Brazell contributed to this report.
Clarification: TheWrap originally reported that Fiennes interacted with Lucas’ daughter.