‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Max Minghella Did Not Sleep for Days Before a Scene With June and Nick

The Handmaid’s Tale is a grim show, but one of the series’ bright spots is the relationship between June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) and Nick Blaine (Max Minghella). The two fell in love in Gilead and have a young daughter together named Nichole.

In season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale, June, Nick, and Nichole were able to briefly reunite as a family before being separated again. During an interview with Awards Focus, Minghella revealed that he “didn’t sleep for a few days before” filming the scene.

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for season 4 episode 9 of The Handmaid’s Tale.]

Elisabeth Moss and Max Minghella sit with a baby while filming a scene for 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Elisabeth Moss and Max Minghella in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Max Minghella purposefully ‘didn’t sleep’ before filming ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ scene

Moss directed season 4 episode 9 of The Handmaid’s Tale, “Progress.” In the episode, June brings Nichole to meet with Nick, and Nick gives June information on her daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake). After their brief reunion, June returns to live with her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle), and Nick goes back to Gilead.

During their visit, Nick and June realize they both still have feelings for one another but cannot be together, making the reunion bittersweet.

In the show’s third season, Nick was promoted to the role of a Commander in Gilead. Because Nick detests Gilead but is trapped in the political system, the position begins to weigh on him in the fourth season. To show this, Minghella purposefully stayed awake for days before filming the scene with June, Nick, and Nichole.

“It was the most method I’ve ever gone for a scene, and I think it came across,” Minghella told Awards Focus. “I didn’t sleep for a few days before, and I was eating badly and trying to demonstrate a physical reflection of how hard it must be for him. At this point in the show you haven’t even seen Nick for a while. He bears so much stress on his shoulders in a very quiet way, so I wanted something external that you could see.”

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Nick is in a difficult position in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Like all of the characters in the show, Nick is nuanced. He played a role in the creation of Gilead, but he does not believe in the totalitarian society’s ideals. He does his best to help June without giving away his true allegiances. This has led some fans of the show to label Nick as a villain, as he oftentimes comes across as morally gray or mysterious.

Speaking with Awards Focus, Minghella thinks Nick is a simpler character than fans “perceive.”

“I don’t think Nick is as complicated as people perceive him to be. He’s always trying to protect June to the best of his abilities, but sometimes there’s two bad options, like in order to protect her he has to choose between two evils,” Minghella said.

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Max Minghella reminds fans that ‘Nick is a spy’

In addition to being a Commander in Gilead, Nick also leads The Eyes, Gilead’s secret police. Before he became a Commander, Nick was an Eye himself.

“People forget Nick is a spy, and we’re four seasons into the show, so expecting the audience to retain all of the history of these characters is way too much. Ultimately his intentions are in protecting her,” Minghella told Awards Focus.

Fans can watch all four seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.