It’s no small feat to breath life into the world of Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel The Handmaid’s Tale, but from the intricate decor to the large-scale set pieces, production designer Elisabeth Williams spares no detail in bringing Gilead to the screen in the award-winning Hulu series.
In episode six of the third season, Williams had to reimagine the nation’s capital in the world of Gilead when the Waterfords and June travel to Washington D.C. to stay at the home of High Commander George Winslow. Williams brings the stark palette of the city indoors into the Winslow mansion, while adding subtle motifs to reflect the story.
The city’s famous monuments of the freedoms of the United States are revised to reflect the reign of the Sons of Jacob, using the stark, empty space of the Washington Museum rotunda as reminder of the liberties sacrificed in Gilead.
Williams describes the designs she crafted, from the intricacies of the Handmaid’s mouth muzzle to staging a dramatic scene on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.