Alexis Bledel Is Leaving The Handmaid's Tale

After four seasons, Alexis Bledel is departing "The Handmaid's Tale," which earned her four consecutive Emmy nominations and one win for her role as Emily Malek, a.k.a. Ofglen/Ofsteven. The Hulu series, created by Bruce Miller and based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel, is gearing up for what could be its final season, and Bledel has been with it since it premiered in 2017. The actress issued a statement to Variety about her departure, saying:

"After much thought, I felt I had to step away from 'The Handmaid's Tale' at this time. I am forever grateful to Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support."

No additional reasons were given for her departure. Bledel's character last appeared in "The Wilderness," the season 4 finale of "The Handmaid's Tale," which aired in June 2021 and saw her and series protagonist June Osborne (Elizabeth Moss) chasing Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) through the forest to enact justice on him.

The future of The Handmaid's Tale

Reviews for the fourth season of "The Handmaid's Tale" were down from previous seasons; it currently holds a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the first season's 94%. Last summer, Jordan Helman, Hulu's Head of Scripted Originals, seemed to indicate that the show might be winding down in favor of an adaptation of Atwood's follow-up novel, "The Testaments," which puts Ann Dowd's character, Aunt Lydia, in a more prominent role. Helman told Deadline, "The birth of 'The Testaments' on Hulu and the eventual end of 'The Handmaid's Tale' are related, we're figuring out that as we speak."

Moss has remained busy outside "The Handmaid's Tale." She's currently starring in another streaming series, "Shining Girls," on Apple TV+, and she also serves as an executive producer for that series and has directed some episodes. Her most recent film projects include Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch" and Taika Waititi's upcoming "Next Goal Wins."

As for Bledel, her role in "The Handmaid's Tale" was preceded by a recurring role on "Mad Men," the "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" miniseries in 2016, and she also made an appearance in the film "Crypto" in 2019 but has remained mostly committed to the one show during its run. It seems a little late to recast the role of Emily; though the character's absence could always be explained in dialogue, it remains to be seen how "The Handmaid's Tale" will handle Bledel's departure.