Chances are you know Yvonne Strahovski thanks to her chilling portrayal of Serena Joy in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” After landing the role of one of the show’s biggest villains, Strahovski quickly became a household name. She even got an Emmy nomination in 2018 for her work in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Strahovski went on to star in “Stateless” alongside Cate Blanchett in 2020, and in 2021 she starred in a film called “The Tomorrow War” alongside Chris Pratt.
While you probably recognize Strahovski for her recent work, you may not know her full story. Strahovski was born and raised in Australia — if you’ve seen any interviews, you’ll know she still speaks with an Aussie accent. After training at drama school in Sydney, Strahovski began her career slowly with a series of commercials and failed TV shows. However, when she moved across the ocean to Los Angeles, her career took off almost instantaneously with roles in “Chuck,” “Dexter,” and “24: Live Another Day.” Curious to find out more? Here is the stunning transformation of Yvonne Strahovski.
Yvonne Strahovski grew up in Sydney with her Polish family
Yvonne Strahovski was born in Sydney, Australia; as Vogue reported, her parents were Polish immigrants. An only child, Strahovski was a straight A student in school. She reportedly once said, “I loved school, I loved putting on my uniform and doing homework every day. I was one of those good students that the teachers liked. I guess that’s got to be a pretty nerdy, geeky part of me” (via IMDb).
Not only did Strahovski study hard at school, she also worked hard outside of school, taking weekly Polish lessons on Saturdays. “It’s my first language and we speak it at home,” she told GQ. “I was a goody two shoes — a straight-A girl, and I took pride in my studies.”
Perhaps Strahovski’s early experience of languages helped her perfect her American accent, which is unanimously considered to be flawless. Even though Strahovski eventually left home, she’s maintained her Polish roots and can still speak the language fluently. We are seriously impressed.
Yvonne Strahovski studied dancing as a child
It would seem that Yvonne Strahovski always had a taste for the arts. Vogue noted that she was “obsessed” with acting and dancing as a child. And as it turns out, Strahovski was perhaps once just as interested in dancing as acting. As she told TV Guide in 2007, she studied dance from the age of five to age 18.
While Strahovski eventually chose to pursue acting over dance, the skills she learned in dance class have clearly served her throughout her career. When it came to doing fight scenes on “Chuck” years later, those abilities actually came in handy. “I have a memory for choreography,” she revealed. “It’s not hard for me to do all that [choreographed fight] stuff. In fact it’s one of my favorite parts of the job.”
Of course, Strahovski has also had a few scenes in her career that involve dancing, too. In “Stateless,” her character had several scenes on the dance floor and was even seen in a dance class. And, in “Chuck,” the actress showed off her moves once again.
Yvonne Strahovski knew she wanted to act, but had to convince people as a child
Yvonne Strahovski was obsessed with acting as a child — but she didn’t always feel like she was suited for it. “I remember being the lanky, goofy, acne-covered child who was always clowning around in front of a home video camera,” she explained in an interview with Stuff. “And there was just never any question in my mind that I wanted to go down this path.”
Apparently, Strahovski’s parents were concerned that a career as an actor wasn’t stable enough for their daughter. So, they tried to convince her to pursue medicine or law. “But I was very stubborn,” she continued. Once she’d made up her mind to go down that path, her parents became supportive.
For Strahovski, other people’s lack of confidence in her only made her more determined. When she eventually auditioned to play Serena Joy in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” she was armed with a sense of determination. “I was kind of up to the challenge of convincing someone that maybe I could do it,” she added.
Yvonne Strahovski studied acting at the University of Western Sydney
Yvonne Strahovski officially decided to pursue acting after finishing school. She enrolled in the University of Western Sydney’s acting program where she trained for three years, as she told TV Guide. According to the university’s website, the program involves a mixture of performance theory and practical acting classes. The final year is dedicated to putting on two performances.
Strahovski spoke in more detail about her time at drama school in an interview with an old classmate for Aussie Theatre. “That degree was predominantly stage based … I think we weren’t too prepared for the camera world when we graduated, even though most of our castings and auditions and things were for camera.”
Things weren’t exactly easy for Strahovski during her time at drama school. As she recalled to Stuff, she spent her three years of University trying to make ends meet with odd jobs like waitressing and ushering at a movie theater. “I enjoyed waitressing,” she recalled. “It was kind of like going to the gym for 10 hours. … It felt very satisfying after a hard day’s work.”
Yvonne Strahovski started acting in commercials and TV in Australia
Shortly after graduating from drama school, Yvonne Strahovski began working professionally in Australia on TV and in commercials. As GQ reported, her early work included ads for razors, Pepsi, and A4 paper. She was also cast opposite Rachel Taylor in a show called “Headland” that never got picked up.
As Strahovski told her old classmate in an interview for Aussie Theatre, her lack of camera training meant that these first few jobs were like further training in screen acting. “It was more like I hit the ground running and learnt on the job in a way,” she explained.
As she began to rack up a list of credits, Strahovski reportedly never imagined moving to the States so quickly. However, she did visit for pilot season with some friends. While in Hollywood, she also found an American manager (via Stuff). After that, things started to happen pretty quickly.
Yvonne Strahovski moved to L.A. in 2007 and got her big break within three days
Strahovski’s early acting career in Australia lasted for three years — however, everything changed after one fateful audition. Strahovski’s American manager sent her a script for “Chuck” and the rest is history. Within three days of arriving back in America for her audition, she’d gotten the role. As she shared in a chat with Aussie Theatre, “I call it my fairytale story.” At the time, Strahovski also told KTLA 5 that her parents were “ecstatic.” “They’re very, very supportive, very excited,” she gushed.
At first, Strahovski was sure she’d have to return home. “It was me and my little blue suitcase for the rest of that year because I kept thinking, ‘Oh, I’m probably going to go home now,'” she confessed to Stuff. However, when the pilot of “Chuck” was picked up, she decided to settle down in the States. “I realized I probably should rent a proper place because I was living in a shoebox studio apartment and rented eight cars by that point from a Hollywood rental place,” she recalled.
Yvonne Strahovski changed the spelling of her name
When Yvonne Strahovski moved to America and landed a role in “Chuck,” she was set on the path to Hollywood stardom. However, she had to make a difficult decision as she began her American acting career. As she told GQ, her management team were keen to give her a more Hollywood-friendly name — her real last name is actually spelled “Strzechowski.” Initially, they suggested “Yvonne Stryker.”
In the end, Strahovski was able to keep her own name, although she did change the spelling. “Look, at the end of the day it was my call,” she revealed. “And I understood the reasoning behind it — the spelling of my name is a mouthful of letters.” With the new, phonetic spelling, it was a lot easier for Strahovski to become a household name. “I have the same last name — but now it’s spelt phonetically, so people know how to pronounce it,” she added.
Yvonne Strahovski took on a series of impressive starring roles after 'Chuck'
After starring in “Chuck,” Yvonne Strahovski’s American career really started to take off; she followed the show with a series of roles in well-known TV dramas. From 2012 to 2013, Strahovski starred in “Dexter” as the deadly Hannah McKay for the show’s final two seasons. As she explained to Collider, she didn’t initially realize her character would last for so long. “I was surprised when I got to the end of Season 7, and I read that scene where she leaves the black orchid at his doorstep, I thought, ‘Wow, this is a pretty open ending. This might mean that they want me back,'” she recalled. Strahovski went on to explain that she was shocked her character was never killed. Not surprisingly, the show was something of a career highlight. “Every day was amazing!” she gushed.
Another major career turning point came when Strahovski was cast in “24: Live Another Day.” As she told Collider, this show presented new challenges for her. “Well, I think the style and the way that this show is filmed, with the cameras always moving, means that you can’t really lie in front of these cameras,” she explained. “That’s what I like about this show.”
Playing Serena Joy in 'The Handmaid's Tale' was a life-changing experience for Yvonne Strahovski
One of Yvonne Strahovski’s biggest roles to date came in 2017 when she starred in the Hulu smash hit “The Handmaid’s Tale.” She was cast as Serena Joy, a well-off barren wife who’s trying to become a mother through a surrogate “handmaid.”
For Strahovski, the show marked an opportunity to explore a fascinating, complex role unlike any that had come before in her career. “It was very hard to relate to her; I don’t really relate to her,” she told Flare. “She’s very unfriendly, she’s unapproachable, she’s very harsh, she’s brutal, at times, and you’ll see her be more brutal as the show goes on, and it’s not something that came easily.” Eventually, Strahovski came to see Serena as “an empty carcass, a shell.”
While the role of Serena Joy may have been difficult, Strahovski made it look easy. Not only did she become the show’s captivating villain, she even earned herself an Emmy nomination for the second season of the show.
For Yvonne Strahovski, Canadian nature was like therapy while shooting 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Yvonne Strahovski was grateful for a role like Serena Joy in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but she didn’t always find it easy to play someone so cruel. As she told Flare, the character was “a monster.” To that end, Strahovski quickly realized that she had to find a way to escape from Serena Joy’s mindset when she wasn’t on set. “This wasn’t easy to shake off or let go or leave at the studio,” she confessed. “It was something that would weigh heavy on my mind when I went home, just because I felt like I was always trying to figure out why would this person do this and why would she be so mean, why would she be so brutal.”
To switch off, Strahovski found some respite in the nature of Canada, where “The Handmaid’s Tale” was filmed. She explained that she would escape to the lake, or to national parks. “I skipped off to different areas like Algonquin Park and I went to Nova Scotia and did the Cabot Trail and just really embraced Canada and what it has to offer,” she continued. “It was my therapy.”
Yvonne Strahovski married Tim Loden in 2017 in a super chill ceremony
In the same year that “The Handmaid’s Tale” was first released, Yvonne Strahovski married her partner, Tim Loden. As Vogue reported, the low-key ceremony took place in Paso Robles, CA. In fact, the wedding was so chill that the public didn’t even find out about it until months later; Strahovski revealed the big news at the Emmy Awards that year. As she told an E! News reporter, “Yes I got married. There was a heatwave, and we ended up jumping in the lake in our suit and gown, just to cool down. It was ridiculously hot. But we had a great time.” Talk about an easy-going bride.
Strahovski met Loden, also an actor, back in 2010 when he guest starred on “Chuck” (via the Daily Mail). Loden’s other credits include “Bloodlines” and “Vantastic,” and he’s also worked as a producer. These days, the couple appear to be as happy as ever. On January 1, 2020, Strahovski wrote a touching tribute to Loden on her Instagram that called him her “greatest support.” “Here’s to continued adventure, life and love without limits, amazing health and balance, connection and community, more outdoors and crazy good creativity,” she wrote.
Yvonne Strahovski returned to Australia for the first time in three years in 2018
Yvonne Strahovski’s acting career has largely taken place in America. However, in 2018, the star returned to her homeland to work on “Angel of Mine,” which was shot in Melbourne. In the film, Strahovski played a woman who went mad after losing her daughter. As the actress explained, it was her first time back to the country in three years — and it had been even longer since she had worked there.
Even though Strahovski was born and raised in Australia, she actually had to relearn her Australian accent. “It does help being here in Melbourne and surrounded by an Australian crew and having friends here in Melbourne who are keeping it real for me and my weird, mashy accent,” she shared in a chat with Vogue.
In another interview on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Strahovski said, “I feel so un-Australian saying that it’s harder to do the Australian accent now than it is [to do] the American one. I’ve spent 12 years here and most of my roles, in fact all of them except three, have been in an American accent of some kind” (via Yahoo! News). It sounds like this actress has changed a lot since her arrival.
Yvonne Strahovski had her first child in 2018
In 2018, Yvonne Strahovski and Tim Loden welcomed their first child, and Strahovski worked steadily in the lead-up to the birth. As she told Vogue in July of 2018, “I’m due for a break. It’s been a little nonstop.” Strahovski announced the birth in a touching Instagram post in October of the same year. “My heart has melted into a billion pieces a thousand times already,” she wrote. “We have been blessed with the greatest joy of our lives, our baby boy. “
As Strahovksi later told Glamour, she’d worried that the bad energy of her character on “The Handmaid’s Tale” might rub off on her baby. “So, I was always envisioning him, growing inside of me, separate in this safety bubble that nothing could touch,” she revealed. “No matter what kind of emotion I was portraying on camera, I just really tried to separate it.”
When Strahovski returned to set after giving birth, she said her husband was there to help. “[He] came to work with me every single day with my baby so I was never far away and could still breastfeed on demand,” she recalled. Luckily, her new son gave her another way to switch off in between takes.
In 2020, Yvonne Strahovski starred in 'Stateless' alongside Cate Blanchett
Yvonne Strahovski managed to find time in between seasons of “The Handmaid’s Tale” to take on another very different role, this one in the 2020 mini-series “Stateless.” The show was filmed in Australia.
While playing Sofie was a nice change from playing Serena Joy for Strahovski, it definitely wasn’t easy. “As I got myself into the mode of playing Sofie Werner, I realized, ‘Wow, we’re really in for it.’ And I was,” she told TellTaleTV. “It was an incredibly intense journey, but I definitely loved going down it.” While Strahovski had struggled to find anything in common with her character on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Sofie was much easier to relate to. “I sort of melted into her, I don’t know,” she continued.
“Stateless,” which centers around a detention center, gave Strahovski the chance to meet real refugees. “Just in talking to them, it was so eye-opening for me,” she recalled. “I had not met anyone before who had been through something like that … which just made the experience much more powerful.” Based on Strahovski’s whip-smart approach to her work so far, we know there are many more great things to come.
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