Elisabeth Moss is truly a ‘shining girl’

Has anyone ever asked you “What is your favorite TV series of all time?” If so, what did you reply? Years go by, but my response always remains the same, like a granite and immutable certainty: Mad Men. Matthew Weiner’s masterpiece, which aired on AMC from 2007 to 2015, has such a long list of merits to enumerate that it would risk making me go off topic – and in fact I’m going there -, but the reason I pulled it out it concerns one in particular, namely the writing of the characters. And never, never, never will anyone touch the heights conquered by Weiner with Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss). Friendship, impatience, admiration, a bizarre form of love, reverence, devotion, hypocrisy, ambition, resentment, co-dependence: the professional and personal relationship between Don and Peggy was the most multifaceted, intricate and exciting in the serial story, capable both moments of heart-breaking tenderness and episodes where a hardness that left no room for a minimum union of humanity was the master.

There would have been no Don without Peggy, and – I add – there wouldn’t have been either Mad Men without Peggy. Peggy Olson’s climb, from enterprising secretary to talented copywriter in the 1960s, in Manhattan, into an advertising agency dominated by white males playing who has it harder, represents the perfect metaphor for female emancipation and of the compromises to be reached in order to obtain it. Compromises that, in the first place, must be reached with oneself. In an age of dramatically alike stories, Elisabeth Moss has sublime (read: six Emmy nominations) face a woman full of contradictions; sometimes frustrated; intelligent, tough, smart and eager to prove it; impatient; that she, as soon as she realizes that she can as well as she must act like a bitch, she does it and enjoys it as well.

Elisabeth Moss in ‘Mad Men’, Photo: Amazon Prime Video

Moss, born in Los Angeles in 1982, arrives in Mad Men after passing by Aaron Sorkin’s court: at just seventeen she was Zoey, the youngest daughter of President Jed Bartlet played by Martin Sheen in West Wing – All the President’s men. A milestone, one of those series that made the golden age of TV and that have ennobled the very definition of a TV series: no longer simply a drama or a TV series, but, in fact, a (drum roll) Series with a capital S. From the court of Sorkin to the court of Weiner the step is short, and from there to the empire of Jane Campion imagine: in 2013 Moss is the detective Robin Griffin in Top of the Lake – The mystery of the lakeco-created and co-directed by Her Lady Jane, a role that in 2013 earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries.

Intense, fascinating, magnetic: Elisabeth is not the classic Hollywood beauty, she is angular, icy and certainly does not inspire immediate sympathy – although in the part of Anne, the journalist of The Square (film by Ruben Östlund, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2017) is almost involuntarily comical and simply delicious. Also in 2017 it is the turn of the series that will consecrate it, The Handmaid’s Taleconceived by Bruce Miller and based on the 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Not that anyone had any doubts, but Moss is monstrously skilled in playing June Osborne, the handmaid assigned to the house of Commander Fred Waterford (hence his new name, Difred), and his wife Serena Joy, respectively Joseph Fiennes. and Yvonne Strahovski.

Elisabeth Moss in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, Photo: Amazon Prime Video

That year Elisabeth Moss is the ace in the Golden Globe, Emmy Award, Critics’ Choice Television Award, Satellite Award, any Award: she is the best actress, and there is no turning back from there. Vulture dedicates a crazy portrait to her in which he defines her “The Queen of Peak TV”, a clear reference to the Golden Age of Television, a period characterized by a large number of internationally acclaimed “high quality” television programs (how nostalgic, given the current overcrowding). «She is in every scene», says Joseph Fiennes, «she probably wakes up at four in the morning. She is the first to go in and the last to go out, she learns the scripts on the weekend and records voice-overs in the studio when we all have our Sundays off. She then she puts on her producer hat and spends her lunch break in a meeting or watching the footage. I’m ashamed to think of her extraordinary work ethic. “

The foray into production led Moss to assume ever greater responsibilities behind the camera as well, to the point that, during the fourth season of The Handmaid’s Talewas the director of the three best episodes (The Crossing, Testimony, Progress). At the same time, he was grinding films (Old Man & the Gun by David Lowery; We by Jordan Peele; The invisible man by Leigh Whannell; The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson) and was preparing for the last effort, Shining Girlsfrom April 29 on Apple TV +.

The series, created by Silka Luisa and based on the bestseller of the same name by Lauren Beukes, is a metaphysical thriller where Moss – as well as the protagonist – is also the director of two episodes, as well as producer together with Leonardo DiCaprio. Beside her, the one who was the Pablo Escobar in Narcos, a Wagner Moura practically unrecognizable and fit like few others. The series follows the events of Kirby Mazrachi (Moss in fact), archivist of a Chicago newspaper whose journalistic ambitions were interrupted following a traumatic assault. When Kirby discovers that a recent murder mirrors the dynamics of his case, he finds himself collaborating with reporter Dan Velazquez (Moura) to discover the identity of his attacker: too bad the more he realizes that these cold case they are inextricably linked, plus personal trauma and clouded memories allow his attacker to always stay one step ahead of the investigation.

Another “interrupted girl”, which Elisabeth Moss masterfully interprets, securing a prominent place among the greats who have made and are making television series great. She remains shy: a marriage with Fereydun Armisen lasted as long as a cat on the highway; an apartment she adores on the Upper East Side; two stray cats adopted and decidedly more long-lived than the ex-husband; an unwavering faith in Scientology that often cost her criticism from the media and the public. “The idea that Gilead (the theocratic patriarchal regime of The Handmaid’s Tale, nda) and Scientology believe that all external sources are evil and in the wrong it is not true at all. Freedom and religious tolerance, understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important values ​​for me “, he stressed on Instagram, because today we need to reassure the fans, even if they were children not able to accept the contradictions of their favorites.

Archived the sterile controversies, later Shining Girls we will see it again in Next Goal Wins by Taika Waititi – true story from a 2014 British documentary about the disastrous Samoan national football team, which in 2001 lost a match 31-0 – alongside Moss, Michael Fassbender, Rhys Darby and Will Arnett, who replaced in race Armie Hammer, overwhelmed by the sex scandal that involved him last year.

Can we say that Moss hit the jackpot? She would certainly deny, as she still lacks the fulfillment of her life’s dream: as a Disneyland habituée as she professes herself, her goal is to become a member of the exclusive Club 33, the secret restaurant that is the only place in the park where you can drink alcohol and that requires a fee entry fee of 33 thousand dollars, plus 15 thousand annual subscription. Elton John, Tom Hanks, I say to you: do you want to invite this girl or not?

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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