Before Janine was forced to be a maid in Gilead, she was a waitress with a son named Caleb.
“I used to be pretty pretty before they made me a freak so everyone can see what happens when you’re bad,” Janine says in a voice-over in a trailer about her character’s journey. “From then on I tried so hard to be good, but then I realized that breaking the rules is the only way forward.”
Flashbacks show Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) removing her right eye to punish speaking back. Still rebellious, she joins June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) on her mission to save dozens of children from Gilead and help other maids escape.
When season four kicks off, Janine will play a vital role in saving June’s life.
“So Janine is not in Gilead or on her way out of Gilead this season,” Madeline Brewer, who plays Janine on the series, told CNN in a recent interview. “There are some wonderful things about the plot of being able to experience a world outside of Gilead, which is what freedom is like that way. But then we can also see some flashbacks from Janine and her life before, which is to me it was something very special personally to get to know her in this way during this time. “
Brewer said that while she hadn’t envisioned a full backstory for the character, she had some ideas about the trauma she had endured and from there built her performance.
“I didn’t want to make decisions about who she was and who she was until I had conversations with the writers or had the scripts from that season,” she said. “So I had some ideas about who she was, maybe what part of the country she came from, and what her life was like before. Much of what I had imagined matched exactly what was written.”
Working with the writers, they’ve created a deeper arc for Brewer’s character this season.
“I think we’ve all had Janine on our minds for a while and I feel like she’s the only character we’ve all created together. I’m so glad we really aligned, so we’re seeing a kind new Janine, “she added. “As our world widens and we stretch beyond Gilead, Janine’s personality grows too. She can be other parts of herself and who she was in the past.”
Brewer, who also starred on “Orange Is the New Black,” said she was also looking to her former co-star Uzo Aduba, who played Warren on Suzanne’s “Crazy Eyes” series.
“It’s something I really learned from, it was through Uzo Aduba. In every interview I’ve seen with her, the way she talks about Suzanne is so loving and respectful. And she never just has Suzanne that Letting go of the crazy. She had approached her over and over with absolute respect for the life Suzanne had lived and the woman she is, “she said. “And that’s exactly what I wanted to do with Janine. I never wanted her to be just crazy. I wanted to [to show] She’s basically in a trauma response. “
Brewer has lived with Janine on his mind since the cast and crew began filming in Toronto in March 2020. They worked for two weeks before the world closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and didn’t resume filming for seven months later. She said despite the pandemic and the show’s heavy theme, the women found themselves working cathartically.
“I love to work. I mean, working with Elizabeth Moss made me a better actor, but also a better person. I felt better about my work, I think,” she said. “I’ve made such good friends and people keep asking me if going to work is that bad and I say, ‘It’s the best time ever, like the greatest fun I’ve ever had. “What I know sounds crazy, but it really is. I can go to work with my friends. I can work with artists I deeply respect and admire and learn from them every day, it’s all but good.”