‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4: Ann Dowd’s Bringing Her Catholic Past Into Aunt Lydia

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 is coming back to Hulu in April 2021, and fans are more excited than ever to see what Ann Dowd’s character, Aunt Lydia, is going to do next. Aunt Lydia is a villainous follower of Gilead who keeps the handmaids in line. And Dowd talked about how she brings her Catholic upbringing into her sinister character.

Is Aunt Lydia good or bad? ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ explores her complexity

Ann Dowd, a member of 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4 cast, playing Aunt Lydia. Aunt Lydia is looking up as someone speaks to her
Ann Dowd, a member of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ cast, playing Aunt Lydia in season 3 | Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Aunt Lydia is quite complex, and we’re looking forward to seeing how she handled June Osborne’s escape from Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4.

Those who follow the series know Aunt Lydia adores the handmaids — but when they step out of line, she strikes with corrective action. She physically hurts some of the women below her, which makes fans think of her as one of the main villains of the series. But Aunt Lydia’s backstory can’t be forgotten.

Prior to Gilead, Lydia was an elementary school teacher, and she established a close relationship with one of her students and his mother. Unfortunately, Lydia ends up reporting the mother for neglect and having her son taken away.

Despite Aunt Lydia’s cruelty, Dowd believes her character doesn’t seek power. “Her intent has never been about being in power, unlike the Commanders and their Wives,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “Her goal was always to teach, to bring these girls into lives of meaning and respect that she believes can only come from a relationship with God.”

Ann Dowd brings her Catholic upbringing to the character of Aunt Lydia

Dowd has her own experience with religion, and she certainly brings that into Aunt Lydia’s character in The Handmaid’s Tale. Good Morning America reports she was one of seven, and she grew up in an Irish-Catholic family in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

“I myself was raised in a strong Catholic home,” Dowd told Harper’s Bazaar. “It was a very loving home, but one in which religion was very important, as was the Catholic church. I was taught by Catholic sisters. They were never cruel or violent, but they had an extremely strong work ethic, and it was their goal to make sure we did too.”

As for Dowd’s Catholic values, she added her sisters taught her that she was “no more important than anybody else, so when there’s a job to be done, you do it to completion.”

Dowd told Good Morning America she was particularly close to her grandmother growing up, too. “I remember saying to my grandmother, ‘Grandma, I’m going to be an actress,'” Dowd recalled. “And she said — she’s a very beautiful person — she said, ‘Oh no dear, that’s a hobby. And you’ll enjoy it, as a hobby.'”

When does ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4 premiere?

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Fans won’t have to wait much longer for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 premiere. The new season airs on Hulu on April 28, 2021.

Given the new trailer, the season will showcase June’s escape from Gilead and all she manages to accomplish while on the outside. And it seems she has some help. Other handmaids, like Janine, are with June in the trailer, indicating a number of them make it out.

“We came here to fight,” June tells Janine in the trailer.

“No, you came here to fight,” Janine tells her.

Aunt Lydia also makes an appearance in the teaser. “Find her,” she appears to tell Gilead personnel regarding June, “and bring her to me.”

We’re looking forward to April 28 for the season premiere.

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