'The Handmaid's Tale': O-T Fagbenle on Luke's Relationship With June and Hunt for Their Daughter (Exclusive)

The actor talks to ET about Luke taking a more active role in the fight against Gilead. 

Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale sees several of the main characters taking action, particularly Luke, played by O-T Fagbenle. Often relegated to the sidelines with the series largely focused on the struggles of his wife,  June (Elisabeth Moss), the latest episodes show how he’s no longer a passive participant in the fight against Gilead as they both figure out a way to free their daughter, Hannah, from the oppressive nation. 

With episode 5, “Fairytale,” now streaming on Hulu, Fagbenle talks to ET about Luke’s confrontation with Serena (Yvonne Strahovski), his reconnection with June and their mission to bring Hannah home. “Luke realizes he can’t do the same things,” the actor says of the character’s previous attempts to fight from the sidelines, adding that now his “focus is on June and Hannah.”

[Warning: Spoilers for the first five episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale season 5.]


Following Serena’s use of their daughter in the funeral for Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), things really start to change for Luke. “Serena really comes into high focus,” Fagbenle says, with Luke realizing that she’s “both an obstacle to getting Hannah back and an obstacle to getting June back, you know, mentally and spiritually.” 

Given the widow’s newfound, growing power and her plans for a Gilead cultural center in Canada, he finally takes action. For the first time, he’s able to wield his power within the system to keep her from opening the embassy. 

But it’s only a temporary pushback. “Luke’s been banging this form of bureaucracy for a long time and it’s provided really poor results,” the actor says, comparing his efforts to June’s. “June has been acting out, taking risks.” 

Now, Luke has to do the same, especially following his confrontation with Serena, which really puts things into focus for him. He becomes so angry that he threatens to let June kill her, while Serena pushes back with the only thing she has left: Questioning why he never went into Gilead himself to rescue June or his daughter. 


“What Serena says after that really flips things for Luke,” the actor says. “And that’s coming to terms with these questions, which I think all of the audience members have asked about.” While it’s something that has always been in the back of Luke’s mind, “hearing it out like that, from [Serena] no less, is really kind of a pillar point for him,” he adds. 

Following Luke and June’s uncomfortable reunion in season 4, which saw them out of sync in all areas of their relationship, the two have finally reconnected in a passionate way. After June goes to therapy for her PTSD from her time in Gilead and Waterford’s murder, she opens up to Luke in ways she hasn’t before, and he’s finally able to understand what’s she gone through and why she has such violent urges.  

That eventually culminates in a sex scene in episode 3, one that’s very different from their previous, disturbing sexual interaction and far more satisfying for everyone involved. “Their relationship does evolve a lot and it’s lovely to see them connecting again and find their chemistry again, emotionally, spiritually and sexually,” Fagbenle says. 


Not only that, but the two are “on the same page about what they’re trying to achieve,” which is rescuing Hannah, who they have learned is being sent to wife school in episode 5. And that’s when Luke is determined to cross the border and go get her, but June will not let him do it alone.  

When it comes to getting their daughter back, “it’s a ticking time bomb,” the actor says, before explaining that “growing up, coming of age in Gilead’s terms, into being eligible to be married off -- that is just something any parent [cannot] stand for and they cannot contend with it.” 

And given the way she was used as a pawn by Serena and is now under the care of the vindictive Mackenzies, there’s no time to waste. He adds, “It’s an emergency.” 

However, before they can execute their plan successfully, the two are apprehended at the border. 

New episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 debut Wednesdays on Hulu.



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