New York — Another Margaret Atwood novel is getting the Hollywood treatment, this time on Netflix.
In Alias Grace, a six-episode Netflix miniseries starring Sarah Gadon, an Irish immigrant working as a maid in Canada in the 1840s is accused of murdering her boss and his mistress. Her case is covered with breathless scrutiny, making the young woman infamous.
Based on Atwood's historical novel, Gadon plays Grace, who recounts her life story to a young psychiatrist trying to help jog her memory.
"While he's having these interviews with Grace throughout the show, you start to question his motives," Gadon said in a recent interview. "Is he falling for Grace? Does he want to save her? Has he become obsessed with her or is she manipulating him?"
Gadon said the compelling part of the story is the grey area of it all. She and director Mary Harron analysed different scenarios that would make Grace guilty or not. Gadon says they have their own beliefs about what happened but don't want to influence anyone watching the series.
"The series and the book are all about the ambiguity and it's all about the journey," Gadon said. "Did Grace do it? Did she not do it? Do you want her to have done it? It kind of plays with all those human emotions that we all feel."
To prepare for the role, Gadon spent time at Black Creek Pioneer Village, a working village in Ontario, Canada, that transports visitors back to the late 1700s to mid-1800s.
"I learned how to milk a cow, churn butter, start a fire and ... use a Victorian-era kitchen," she said.
Gadon also learned to sew because Grace sews a quilt by hand as she is being interviewed by her doctor. Gadon says she would need a refresher on sewing, but "could churn some butter. It's pretty easy. It's a lot of work but I could definitely churn some butter."
Another Atwood novel, The Handmaid's Tale, is an Emmy-winning series currently broadcast Mondays at 22:00 on M-Net (DStv 101).
Alias Grace is available on Netflix.