When Elisabeth Moss asked Madeline Brewer, her costar in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” to guest on her reality-shifting Apple series “Shining Girls,” Brewer jumped at the chance.
“She texted me sometime in August and was like, ‘I have this really cool role,'” Brewer told TheWrap about her appearance as Klara in the sixth episode of the series. “And then of course, Lizzie being the lovely person she is, said, ‘I totally understand if you don’t want to do a guest star spot,’ and I was like, ‘I would walk over hot lava for you, I would do anything to work with you in any capacity. So yeah, I’ll be there.'”
Klara, an avant-garde dancer of 1920, is a childhood friend of the series’ villain, Harper (Jamie Bell), but doesn’t return his obsessive affections when he returns from the war. She’s put off when he wants to resume their youthful cat burglaries, but she’s thrilled when he shares his time-traveling secret with her. They travel to the mid-’90s, where they end up at the bar where Kirby works before the attack. A giddy Klara drags Kirby out on the dance floor, neither realizing how dangerous Harper really is as he films them.
“It’s a totally different dynamic for both Lizzie and I to play,” Brewer said. “Our characters, especially in Season 4 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ were so traumatized. So it was just such a treat for us to explore this entirely new dynamic, however brief. [As Moss said], “I want to make this truly Klara and Kirby.”
Her character is surprisingly at home in the ’90s: In a clip from the episode, she suggests they never go back. “I would absolutely be like curled up in the corner [after a 70-year-plus time jump] and she just accepts it,” said Brewer. “I love that about her. And I think that that is a testament to the way that she grew up, you kind of have to roll with the punches and that’s who she is, a wonderful, accepting, adventurous woman, who’s very ahead of her time.”
What fascinates Harper about both women? “I think it’s this wild horse quality that he wants to tame. He wants to own and he wants to control and he can’t. He sets his eyes on a woman that he wants and when they don’t respond the way he wants to, it’s like they’ve committed an egregious wrong towards him,” Brewer said.
We also see Brewer perform a dramatic Martha Graham-inspired dance with a heavy cape in the episode. “Oh my God, it was a dream. We [rehearsed] about three or four days of a few hours each day,” Brewer explained. “I’m not a very physically strong person, so it was definitely a difficult thing, but I’m very proud of the dance. I went to school for musical theater, so I’ve danced all my life, but I wouldn’t call myself a dancer, by any means. This was like a hyper-stylized, very unique kind of dancing. I finally got to put some skills to use that I’ve had in my back pocket for a while but I’ve never really gotten to showcase, so that was so much fun.”
When asked which era would suit Klara best, if she continued her time travel adventures, Brewer replied, “I think the ’80s would have suited her really well. A lot of advances in technology of course, but also in music and style, and clothing… I think she would have been a rock star in the ’80s.”