The Handmaid’s Tale’s Aunt Lydia star lands role away from drama amid season 5 uncertainty

The Handmaid’s Tale: June faces torture from Lieutenant Stans

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The star best known as Aunt Lydia in the bleak Hulu dystopian drama will replace Oscar winner Kathy Bates, who has pulled out due to scheduling conflicts. Fans are currently waiting for the confirmed fifth season of The Handmaid’s Tale, which wrapped up on Channel 4 in the UK this year, but the all-star cast already have several projects lined up.

Actress Ann, 65, has joined the ensemble cast of The Independent, a political thriller film set for release in 2022.

Also confirmed to appear are Brian Cox of Succession fame, as well as John Cena (The Suicide Squad) and Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim).

The film will be the feature debut of director Amy Rice, who helmed the documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama for HBO with co-director Alicia Sams.

An official synopsis, via Deadline, reads: “Set during the final weeks of the most consequential presidential election in history.”

“The Independent follows an idealistic young journalist (Turner-Smith) who teams up with her idol (Cox) to uncover a conspiracy that places the fate of the election, and the country, in their hands.

“Cena and Dowd play opposing Presidential candidates.”

Ann has replaced American Horror Story regular Kathy Bates as one of the candidates in the high-stakes political race.

The script has been written by Evan Parter, and the film will be produced through Relativity Media and Rogue Pictures.

CEO of Relativity Lex Miron said in a statement: “The Independent is a progression in Relativity’s strategic approach to acquire star-driven, commercial, theatrical-quality films.

“We are thrilled to work again with The Exchange and Orogen Entertainment to bring this feature film to theatres across the U.S. and Canada.”

The Handmaid’s Tale star will be bringing on some impressive credentials for the film, as she has just been nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award this week for her role in Mass.

She has also been nominated for multiple Emmy Awards for her role as Aunt Lydia, after winning the accolade for the first season in 2017.

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However, it’s still unknown when she’ll be returning to her iconic role as the sadistic matron of Gilead.

Production on season four was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and finally surfaced on Hulu in April 2021.

Filming has not yet started on the next instalment, as far as fans know, and a release date has not yet been set.

Thankfully, showrunner Bruce Miller has given The Handmaid’s Tale enthusiasts some small morsels to tide over until next year.

In June 2021, he told Deadline he was still “gathering” the cast to get the ball rolling on season five.

Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski and, of course, Ann, are all expected to return, though a premiere isn’t looking likely until late 2022 at the earliest.

Thankfully, the story of the Handmaids is far from over, as sequel series The Testaments based on Margaret Atwood’s recent follow-up is also currently in the works.

The Handmaid’s Tale season four is available to stream on Hulu.

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