Alexis Bledel on suffering impostor syndrome on The Handmaid’s Tale

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Kayleigh Dray
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Have you ever felt as if you’re blushing and bluffing your way through the working day? Have you doubted your own worth? And has some small secret voice from deep within yourself ever whispered not-so-sweet nothings in your ear?  “One day they’re going to find out that you don’t know anything,” it insists, “and that’ll be it for you.”

You’re not alone: ‘impostor syndrome’ affects plenty of us on a daily basis – and it can strike anyone, no matter how successful or famous they are. Even Alexis Bledel, who has received critical acclaim for her role in The Handmaid’s Tale, has now admitted that she felt afraid to work alongside Elisabeth Moss and the rest of the show’s star-studded cast.

As Ofglen, Bledel is one of the most compelling characters in the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book – and was involved in a number of the show’s most disturbing (and important) scenes.

The last time we saw her, she was being led away by the Eyes after stealing a car and running down a Gileadean soldier in front of her fellow Handmaids. Her fate seemed certain: after all, they had already mutilated her genitals for being a “gender traitor” – surely they would execute her off-screen for her new crimes?

Well, as it turns out, Ofglen is alive (although we hesitate to say ‘and well’) – which means that, yes, Bledel will be returning for the second season of the show. Better still, the former Gilmore Girls star is being bumped up from guest star to series regular, which means that we will get to know far more about her tortured character than ever before.

“I can’t believe I get to come back,” she revealed happily on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Talk soon turned to her powerful scenes in the show – particularly those filmed while she was wearing the “gender traitor” mask – and Meyers praised Bledel for telling such an incredible story using only her eyes.

“It looked as if the top half of your face had been waiting your whole life for that,” he laughed, “Because…”

However Bledel cut him off, saying: “I think it was the fear of being the weakest link on such an amazing show.”

Meyers, taken aback by Bledel’s admission, responded: “Oh, that’s interesting. I never thought about that, but when you’re watching everybody else crush it, you must [worry].”

Nodding emphatically, Bledel replied: “Yeah, you’re kind of charged with that ‘don’t mess this up’ feeling.”

Warming to the theme, Meyers joked: “On any cast, someone’s going to be the worst one.”

“I don’t know,” laughed Bledel. “I mean, yeah, I think everyone on the show is amazing, luckily. But it’s definitely a very real fear.”

Bledel is not the first woman in the spotlight to address her impostor syndrome – and we doubt she will be the last. In 2016, Lupita Nyong’o shared her own self-doubt with Time Out: saying: “What’s it called when you have a disease and it keeps recurring? I go through [acute impostor syndrome] with every role. I think winning an Oscar may in fact have made it worse. Now I’ve achieved this, what am I going to do next? What do I strive for?

“Then I remember that I didn’t get into acting for the accolades, I got into it for the joy of telling stories.” 

Emma Watson, similarly, told Rookie: It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved. I can’t possibly live up to what everyone thinks I am and what everyone’s expectations of me are’. 

“It’s weird — sometimes [success] can be incredibly validating, but sometimes it can be incredibly unnerving and throw your balance off a bit, because you’re trying to reconcile how you feel about yourself with how the rest of the world perceives you.” 

And even Jodie Foster, in her interview with 60 Minutes, said she thought winning her Oscar for The Accused was “a big fluke”.

“I thought it was a big fluke. The same way when I walked on the campus at Yale, I thought everybody would find out, and then they’d take the Oscar back.”

Bledel, though, hopes that she can use her self-doubt to try and improve herself – and to help her select the projects she is most passionate about.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, she said: “More than anything, I just think about what roles I take on, and make sure that it's really something that I feel passionate about if I'm going to leave home and go work.

“I just want to love what I'm doing.”

Images: Channel 4