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“I didn’t want to prettify but to really show a brutal, ruthless, class-driven society.”

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energy and all that anger? What do you do with powerlessn­ess?

The idea of having more than one identity, the face you show to the world and the face that’s deep within, captivated me.”

The series is directed by Mary Harron, best known for her adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s

American Psycho. She agreed with Polley that it was important to portray the past as unflinchin­gly as possible. Whatever else,

Alias Grace was never going to be Canada’s version of a British costume drama.

“Both Sarah and I are interested in what is true and what is not true. I think she liked that a lot of my films have characters crossed with madness. And she knew I wouldn’t try to make Downton Abbey.I didn’t want to prettify but to really show a brutal, ruthless, class-driven society.”

Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale have given renewed prominence to Atwood, who, at age 78, is happy to be a lightning rod for debates about gender and politics.

“I often get asked to be a spokespers­on for a very simple reason, and that reason is that I don’t have a job, “she told

Entertainm­ent Weekly. “So I can’t be fired. A lot of people would like to say those things but they have jobs and they may have families, and they would put themselves in jeopardy if they said some of the kinds of things that I do. So that’s why artists and writers are so often picked. They can’t be fired. They can vilified, people can call them names…but they can’t actually be dismissed.”

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