Madeline Brewer is an Emmy-nominated actress for The Handmaid’s Tale; you’ve likely seen her on Orange Is the New Black, too, and soon—if you’re lucky—as Sally Bowles in the London revival of Cabaret.
But Madeline is also a relatable kind of nature lover who's thrilled to be outdoors, but doesn't usually go camping. “I can’t wrap my head around it, to be honest,” she laughs. “I love a good hike; love a long walk through a forest… but I’m happy sleeping in my own bed, instead of a bed of leaves.”
And you know what? Fair!
Here’s how Madeline connects with nature on her own terms, how nature helps her recover from emotional days on-set, and why lizards have it all figured out.
Hey Madeline! Want to take a break from Cabaret rehearsal and answer some questions about the environment?Yes! Let’s do it.
Okay. Can you remember the first time you were really awestruck in nature?
Yessss! Behind my elementary school [in New Jersey] was a creek, and this clearing with all of these trees. We would have soccer practices back there, surrounded by all of this lush green habitat, and I loved it. I’ve always thought trees were pretty magical. You walk right up to them and follow their trunks, and they just keep going up, and up, and up. It’s incredible that something so normal in nature can also be so amazing.
What’s your wild element—fire, water, air, space, earth…This is tough, because I am a Taurus—a Taurus-Taurus… But even though my main astrological sign is an earth sign, I’m generally just a ball of fire, especially when I’m working. As someone creative, fire is definitely my element.
Do you ever use elements of nature when creating a character?Actually, yeah! Today in Cabaret rehearsal, we were doing the song “Mein Herr” and really getting the energy of it. And our associate choreographer, Kayla, was like, “You know, the way Sally moves in this song, it’s like a jungle cat! It’s about that energy of a wild animal.” It definitely comes out when I’m dancing onstage—I don’t show up [on a TV set] and say, “Hey, I’m a jungle cat!”—but I do have a panther tattooed on my body. So maybe there’s something there.
You play a lot of characters in deep distress. Do you ever use biophilia or plant therapy to wind down after an intense scene?
I was actually thinking about that today. That is something that I really do need to develop… I love my job, obviously, but sometimes I get really exhausted and raw, and it's actually hard for me to go to bed! So I have this process where I take a very long bath, and it feels like I’m washing off the day. I take mad magnesium baths because my work is very physical, and I just want to fall asleep!
What’s your favorite vegan swap?I mean, I’ll always do an almond-milk cortado, but also, have you talked about jackfruit yet? I love swapping jackfruit for meat when I want something hearty and full of protein.
And what’s your favorite animal fact?My friend has a lizard, and when they get very scared, they remove their own tail. It just drops on the floor as a survival mechanism, and then it grows back. Can you imagine if you’re stressed out, and you just drop part of your body, and then you feel better? It’s like a lizard’s swap for therapy. It’s amazing.
At Wild Elements, our motto is “Let good grow wild.” What does that mean to you?I guess to me, that means you can't harness goodness, or the essence of goodness. You can't hold it in your hand. You just have to let it be and watch it be. And the way that you can respect goodness and engage with it is to not try to control it, or fit it into whatever shape you think it should be. Goodness has its own path.
Watch Madeline Brewer in The Handmaid’s Tale, now on Hulu.