The Veil was more challenging than The Handmaid’s Tale, says Elisabeth Moss

US actress Elisabeth Moss said learning a British accent and stunt training for her starring role in The Veil meant the experience was more challenging than The Handmaid’s Tale.

The 41-year-old, who styled her growing baby bump after a recent surprise announcement, appeared at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press tour in Los Angeles, alongside British creator Steven Knight who featured virtually.

While co-star Yumna Marwan could not attend the panel as she was “resting at home with her newborn daughter”.

Sky Up Next showcase
Yumna Marwan could not attend the panel as she was ‘resting at home with her newborn daughter’ (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Moss described herself as a “huge fan of the spy genre” and was excited to play an MI6 agent with an accompanying British accent, which she said “has an extra bit of glamour to it”.

“It was much more challenging than I’ve ever experienced given the different skills and different things I had to do with the dialect, the stunts, fight training, and speaking a couple of different languages here and there, and then travelling around the world, so it definitely felt like, if possible, I’ve found something even more challenging than The Handmaid’s Tale,” she said.

Moss confirmed she is preparing “right now” to shoot the final season of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale this summer.

While on The Veil, she continued: “As far as the accent, I worked on it probably harder than I’ve worked on anything because I tend to not work too hard sometimes beforehand, but this I did about six months, I started in September and we started shooting in February.

“There is a fair amount of pressure when it comes to that kind of thing and I didn’t want to be thinking about it and I wanted to do the material justice.”

GQ Men of the Year Awards 2018 – London
Elisabeth Moss serves as executive producer on the series (Ian West/PA)

Moss, who also serves as an executive producer of the upcoming show, said she had three “big fight scenes” in the series which took “weeks and weeks of physical preparation”.

The conference heard that the idea for the thriller – which explores the relationship between two women (Moss and Marwan) who play a deadly game of truth and lies on the road from Istanbul to Paris and London – came from producer Denise Di Novi.

She said: “The French (intelligence) organisation, the DGSE, is the most closed, most intensely private (organisation), and I don’t think this would have ever happened if I hadn’t been at a hotel bar and a retired DGSE agent was drinking too much… and started telling me these things about how difficult it is that they had to start working with other agencies and how much they didn’t like it.

“So that was kind of a strange fluke.”

While Peaky Blinders creator Knight said Di Novi’s experience sparked a “fertile idea” that there was “friction between the various intelligence agencies MI6, DGSE and the CIA in dealing with new threats”.

Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight (Suzan Moore/PA)

He said: “For research, I went to Paris, I met three people who worked in French intelligence – one of them DGSE, two of them non-attributable. I always find true stories much more compelling.

“It felt to me as if there is something going on and there is friction and there is tension and the things that appeals to me most is when big international conflicts or events boil down to individuals and what I wanted to do with this is take huge issues and boil it down to two people in a car.”

Meanwhile in preparation for her role, Moss said she read “any female spy book I could get” as it was notoriously difficult to speak to real-life spies.

“The CIA is much more willing to speak to you, MI6 not so much, which is kind of cool,” she said.

Moss also added that there was a polar vortex just before they started shooting in Turkey so it was “very cold”, but they felt fortunate they were able to shoot at a location that not many people had visited, let alone filmed at.