What Alias Grace Star Anna Paquin Thinks About Comparisons To The Handmaid's Tale

Anna Paquin Alas Grace Elizabeth Moss Handmaid's Tale

It's becoming pretty apparent how much Margaret Atwood's work resonates with contemporary audiences, even without actual books being involved. The Handmaid's Tale premiered earlier this year to near-universal acclaim, and more beloved literature from the iconic author will come to life next month when Alias Grace finally premieres on Netflix. During a recent Netflix press event in Los Angeles, I had the chance to ask Alias Grace star Anna Paquin how she feels about possible Handmaid's Tale comparisons. While she understands these comparisons, she also sees that they are two very distinct pieces. The X-Men star explained:

I mean, it's the same author. Of course, they're going to draw comparisons. But it's more like being part of somebody's canon of work because the two have nothing to do with each other. You know? I think we actually shot Alias Grace before Handmaid's Tale, but they were sort of happening around the same period of time. I think it's just exciting that really good female-centric literature is being turned into exciting high-quality entertainment.

So while some fans have been quick to draw comparisons between The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace for their visual and tonal similarities -- both focus on cloak-clad, persecuted women who find strength in the face of oppression -- they are two very different stories. The Handmaid's Tale is cautionary dystopian fiction meant to reflect some of the ugly facets of our own society. By contrast, Alias Grace is a partially fictionalized account of the grisly murders that Irish immigrant Grace Marks may or may not have committed in the 19th century. They're certainly similar because they both come from Margaret Atwood's distinct point of view -- and she's involved behind the scenes on both of these shows -- but they're unique enough to respectively stand on their own.

I also had the chance to meet with Alias Grace director Mary Harron during a roundtable discussion about the upcoming series. Not unlike Anna Paquin, Harron explained that Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace are getting adaptations not just because the time is right for these feminist stories, but because Atwood's talent is simply worthy of adaptation. On the feminist tone of Atwood's work, the American Psycho director said:

What makes Margaret Atwood great isn't just [her feminism]. She's a fantastic storyteller and she's a great writer. Handmaid's Tale, the big success that's preceded us. That's successful, and I hope Alias Grace will be successful because of being great dramatic stories.

Alias Grace will premiere on Netflix on Friday, November 3 at 12:01 a.m. PT. For more up-to-date information on anything and everything in the world of television, check out CinemaBlend's fall TV premiere guide and make sure to keep up with The Cord Cutter Podcast to hear everything we here at CinemaBlend have to say about the world of streaming content.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.