“Handmaid’s Tale” and “Marvel’s Runaways” film actress Ever Carradine ’96 did not come to Lewis & Clark to study theatre. In fact, her father, Robert Carradine, didn’t originally want her to pursue acting.
“He didn’t want me to have to handle the struggles that come with the industry,” she said.
A “third generation actor,” Carradine hails from the prominent Carradine acting family, meaning she grew up in the film and television world, yet she began her time at LC as a sociology/anthropology major (SOAN). However, she quickly found herself drawn back to the theatre. To Carradine, SOAN and theatre, while very different disciplines, were similar in that they both explored human nature. In her sophomore year, Carradine was cast in a production of “A Piece of My Heart,” a play about American nurses in Vietnam. She switched to a theatre major after that, preferring to act in the Black Box Theatre over the Mainstage because she felt that at the time more contemporary or experimental works were put on there.
Carradine went on to perform in several LC shows, including “Our Country’s Good,” a play about prison camps in Australia. This show was directed by Associate Professor of Theatre and Department Chair Stephen Weeks, who had arrived at LC in 1995 and still teaches to this day.
“Ever’s a terrific person,” Weeks said. “I so much enjoyed working with her, she was great all the way through the production process. It was a happy time.”
Professor Weeks recalled the audition process for “Our Country’s Good,” wherein Carradine’s character, Liz Morden, required particular talent to embody.
“The character of Liz Morden, she speaks in a heavy Cockney accent, so it’s a dialogue part, and also it’s a very emotionally trying role, there’s a nice arc by which that character comes into her own,” Weeks said. “I wasn’t sure at first if Ever was going to be the actor to play the role, I called her back a couple of different times, and I finally decided that she was the right person. And that was a good casting decision, she was excellent.”
“(Stephen) really breathed life into the Theatre department,” Carradine said.
As many college seniors do, Carradine weighed plan for the future as she approached graduation. She had been cast in a production of “The Sisters Rosensweig” at Portland Repertory Theatre before she graduated, the opening of which coincided with graduation weekend. After that run, she was offered an audition for a production of “Three Tall Women” at the same company but felt that if she accepted the role, she would never leave Portland.
Instead, she moved back to Los Angeles and started her career in film and television. A friend’s father was an agent, and he brought her in for an audition, which led to her being signed with the agency. Carradine earned early gigs on television shows like “Diagnosis Murder” and “Veronica’s Closet.” She continued to work in television and film throughout the 2000s and up to today; currently, she stars in two shows produced for Hulu as Janet Stein in “Marvel’s Runaways” and Naomi Putnam in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Janet Stein and Naomi Putnam are very different characters, but as a seasoned actress, Carradine does not find oscillating between them to be too difficult.
“Once you rehearse, once you put the clothes on, it becomes real,” she said.
Specifically, her role as a Wife in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is supported by the costume. The costumes in the show are now iconic, from the red cloaks of the Handmaids to the teal dresses worn by the Wives.
Carradine cited a few different factors that she feels boosted her success. For one, thanks to her role in “The Sisters Rosensweig,” Carradine was eligible for a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card. That, plus getting signed by an agency so early in her career, helped her be considered for certain roles. Going to a liberal arts college helped her search for and eventually find her true passion. She offered this advice to LC students and artists of all kinds as to how to succeed in the industry.
“Make art, make bad movies, make good movies …make things with your friends. You need people around you.”