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Forget Rory Gilmore — Alexis Bledel could set a new standard with ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

As much as some actors might deny it, typecasting is a real thing. It is usually the result of the one role that shoots an actor into fame, causing directors to lose faith in him or her ever fitting into a different role.

While it is an almost parasitical problem for films, TV actors suffer from typecasting the most. The one role that jumpstarts their career could also end up becoming their biggest problem. Our friendly, neighborhood awkward-boy Michael Cera would agree.

This makes seeing actors like Alexis Bledel try to break out of their typecast and venture into riskier roles interesting. Bledel will co-star with Elisabeth Moss in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” set to release on Wednesday.

While Moss made her mark as Peggy Olson in “Mad Men,” she has enough projects under her belt to showcase her acting versatility. Bledel, on the other hand, suffers from a major case of typecasting.

Bledel shot to fame as the sweet-natured bookworm Rory in “Gilmore Girls” and has only landed similar roles ever since. I don’t know if it’s her Miss Goody Two-Shoes looks, or her unwillingness to try new things that led to her typecasting, but watching Bledel act until now was like just watching Rory Gilmore in different settings.

Bledel’s problem not only lies in her success as Rory, but also in her audience’s unwillingness to let Rory go. She tried a few other roles after her stint as Rory, but she didn’t find fame until her portrayal of girl-next-door Lena Kaligaris in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and its sequel.

It’s almost like audiences missed “Gilmore Girls” so much, they were happy to see some sort of resemblance to Rory in Bledel’s new character.

In my opinion, “Gilmore Girls” is overrated, but that’s a topic for another column. My refusal to accept Rory Gilmore as Bledel’s ultimate role had me ecstatic when she signed on to play Ofglen in the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s shocker of a novel. Seriously, the book is so controversial that it has been banned in some high schools.

With Ofglen, Bledel is about to take a leap of faith that could either make or break her career. No more Lorelai or her best friends to form a blanket around Bledel’s characters. It’s all in the open, and from the get-go Bledel will be judged for the job she does.

For those of you who have read the book, you know that the life of the Handmaids is not an easy one. Agreeing to portray a life of agony and conveying Ofglen’s pain is something Bledel has never done before. This role is a tough one. Being raw is most essential to staging a successful portrayal.

What makes this role harder for Bledel is the fact that she is starring against Moss. As I mentioned before, Moss is an incredible actress who’s good at portraying internally complex characters.

“She’s such a rich character so it’s a real opportunity for me to dig in a bit deeper,” Bledel told the The Hollywood Reporter while discussing her new role.

Especially after “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” fans will try to resist Bledel’s rapid transition. But that just adds to the question of whether Bledel will deliver.

I believe she will, and I do not want her to prove me wrong.

Malvika Randive is a freshman writing and rhetoric major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can reach her at mnrandiv@syr.edu.

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