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Stephen Colbert challenges champion weeper Elisabeth Moss to a cry-off

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Elisabeth Moss, Stephen Colbert
Elisabeth Moss, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Trading her all-concealing crimson-and-white “work clothes” for a sunny canary dress, The Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss nonetheless came to Friday’s Late Show ready to get down to business. Quizzed by Stephen Colbert about her career-long facility with onscreen waterworks, Moss sensed a challenge coming when Colbert brought up a recent Vulture article that compared her various ugly cries in projects like Mad Men, Us, and her recent, Courtney Love-channeling Her Smell. Professing to be flattered by the article, Moss yet admitted to be torn over the mascara-smeared tribute, claiming that she halfway “wanted a restraining order against” the article’s writer, Rachel Handler. (Something called, in the pop culture profile game, “the sweet spot.”)

Still, Moss is a gamer, and when Colbert whipped out some tissues in a put up or shut up duel of theatrical tears, she indeed stepped up and got ready to snuffle. Telling the inquisitive Colbert to mind his own business when it comes to the secret of her well-known ability to blub at will, Moss joined Colbert in fighting the inevitable giggles that bubble up when you’re trying to do something deeply and wrenchingly emotional in front of an eagerly tittering studio audience. Colbert claimed a false start at one point, as Moss appeared ready to silently yet movingly mourn the death of her cat or something while he was still deciding whether or not to take off his glasses. “She’s gonna lap me,” Colbert joked, “She’s gonna have snot and everything.” As to just who wound up the wet-eyed winner amongst Emmy-winners, you’ll have to go to the tape.