The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s Rachel Brosnahan has definitely received her fair share of not-so-marvelous career advice.
“Just take the money,” the Emmy-nominated actress, 27, first answered in PEOPLE Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle’s The Jess Cagle Exercise when asked about the worst advice she’d ever received.
“We were shooting a project — that shall remain nameless — that was very unsafe,” the House of Cards alum explained. “It involved a camera drone in the sky and a lightning storm and I turned to another actor on the project and said, ‘I feel like we should get out of here.’”
Despite the bad advice, Brosnahan has gone a long way with her successful career—scoring herself a Golden Globe win and two Emmy nominations.
Most recently, the actress earned an Emmy nomination for best actress in a comedy for her hilarious portrayal of Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel, a 1950s housewife turned stand-up comedian, on Amazon’s hit show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Additional scans from InStyle Magazine have been added to the gallery.
Rachel is featured on the September Fall Fashion issue of InStyle magazine. You can check out the photoshoot in the gallery and the accompanying article below.
At this year’s Golden Globes, Rachel Brosnahan did more than take home an award for her role as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a 1950s Manhattan housewife-turned-aspiring stand-up comic, in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Yes — overnight she actually became a household name. A household name people in households could actually pronounce.
“In the past they’ve said ‘Brushnananhan,’ ‘Brushnahan,’ ‘Branininin.’ Or, you know, just ‘Bleh,’ ” says the actress over a coffee in downtown Brooklyn, near her temporary home while she is filming Season 2 of the hit Amazon series (her Harlem apartment is being renovated). “So now strangers can say my last name. That’s probably the most improbable thing that’s happened since I won.”
Also that storied night, Jeff Bezos, the founder and chairman of Amazon and, basically, her boss, introduced the 27-year-old Brosnahan to the filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
“It was so surreal, the whole thing,” she recalls. “And Steven was Steven. He said, ‘My wife and I love the show. I’ve got to tell you, it’s the best Jewish musical since Fiddler on the Roof.’ ”
Though old chestnuts by Barbra Streisand and Peggy Lee play over the episodes’ end credits, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel isn’t quite a musical. “I’m not really a singer. Or a dancer,” she admits. But perhaps Steven Spielberg’s proclamation is true in the same way that Brosnahan suggests she’s not much like the fictional Midge offscreen either.
“I wish! I wish I were as sharp as she was,” says Brosnahan. “As she is,” she continues. “Well, was,” she finishes. Indeed, Brosnahan and Midge are both fast-talking dames who know how to deliver a punch line after a breathless and circuitous story.
On the aftereffect of the Golden Globes, Brosnahan adds, “The show won, and people went, ‘What the fuck is that?’ And they went and found it. And then, thankfully, they liked it and told their friends, and their teachers, and their children, and their rabbis, and, you know, here we are.”
Brosnahan may be breaking through in her career now, but she has been working steadily for a decade, since and even during her time as an acting student at NYU. She has appeared on series like Manhattan, about the mission to build the atomic bomb (filmed in Santa Fe, where Brosnahan still likes to escape to on a regular basis), and had a star turn on House of Cards (she was so liked on set there that she became a series regular, until her character was murdered in Season 3). She’s also had on- and off-Broadway stints opposite Bobby Cannavale and Daniel Craig.
A career in the entertainment business wasn’t necessarily predestined for this Chicago teenager, whose family was focused more on fashion and sports. Her aunt was the late handbag designer Kate Spade. (Following Spade’s recent death, Brosnahan described her aunt as “effervescent” in a heartfelt social media post: “She was exceedingly kind, beautifully sensitive, insanely talented, funny as heck, and one of the most generous people I have ever known.”) Her dad, Spade’s brother, was particularly athletic and encouraged his daughter to play lots of team sports.
“Wasn’t always great at the sports, but I played them,” Brosnahan says. That included skiing, snowboarding, basketball, and even high school wrestling, which she fell into because she failed to get cast in her freshman-year production of Beauty and the Beast.
“Didn’t make it. Devastated. Not even in the chorus. Not even a teacup,” she says. (She had better luck in later years with chorus parts in high school productions of Cats and The Scarlet Pimpernel.) “And then some buddies of mine were doing wrestling, and I thought, ‘I’ve always kind of wanted to do it.’ ”
Wrestling appealed to Brosnahan because she considered it a gender-neutral sport, grouped by weight class and individual skill set. That said, Brosnahan never wrestled another girl during her two years on the team. “I wrestled at 112 [pounds], so guys who are 112 are pretty stringy, you know?”
In a surprising turn of the screw, wrestling turned out to be like acting.
It involved a “physical kind of listening,” says Brosnahan. “It was so much about being present in the moment. Listening carefully and responding appropriately. Which, I think, has helped me in every single aspect of this art and this business. I will say that I’m very ambitious, and as I’ve gotten older, I’m not apologetic about it.”
Midge Maisel is ambitious too. “She’s trying to have it all,” says Brosnahan. “And sometimes those things complement each other, and sometimes they’re completely at odds with each other. In the second season we’ll explore the ripple effect of that as well.”
When filming, Brosnahan preps an hour and a half in hair, makeup, and wardrobe to make the period transformation. “I couldn’t imagine putting that amount of time into my appearance every single day,” she says. “But really her appearance is an armor, though I don’t think she’s hiding anything or protecting much.”
Offscreen, Brosnahan hopes she’ll “never feel that way. That’s very stressful.” But Midge’s style is starting to rub off on her. “I wear a little less black. I do live in New York, so only a little bit less, though,” she says. “Comfort is key.”
As for makeup, “the more I have to do it for work, the less I want to do it in my real life.” Just a touch of concealer and some sunscreen is all it takes. “This is what I look like, you know?” says Brosnahan, with a Maisel-like cock of the head. “And I feel the best like that.”
It took Brosnahan some time to recognize that Midge’s quest for perfection — constant calisthenics, impeccable hair and makeup even in the middle of the night, the consummate marriage — wasn’t necessarily a burden for her alter ego. “For Midge it’s empowering. It just brings joy to present herself a certain way. It makes her feel good to perform ‘mother’ and ‘housewife’ and ‘woman,’ but it was one of the harder things to wrap my head around.”
Still, one of the best parts of making the show, she says, is that it “feels so far out of my wheelhouse. Playing Midge is many things rolled into one, but it’s been really something.”
Rachel attended the Summer TCA Press Tour yesterday to promote The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Photos from the event as well as an accompanying photoshoot have been added to the photo gallery.
In honor of the season 6 premiere of Orange is the New Black I’ve added screencaps from Rachel’s episode to the gallery.
In the television show Pose, which is about the transgender community in New York during the 1980s, Ryan Murphy has created a world full of glory, heartbreak, and sky-high heels that does not—and, seemingly, cannot—exist in feature films. Nowadays, movies must attract a superhero-hungry global audience with mass taste, so television is where directors and actors turn to express their personal interests. Shows like Pose used to be made as independent films—in fact, Pose was inspired by the groundbreaking indie documentary Paris Is Burning, which was released in 1990. For the past three years, we have put together this portfolio to spotlight actors and actresses who shine on TV, and every year there are even more interesting projects, especially for women, on the small screen. Dakota Fanning, for example, was attracted to the strength of her character in The Alienist, which is based on the 1994 best-selling book by Caleb Carr. Originally meant to become a feature film, this potboiler detective story set at the turn of the 20th century was too layered and complex to fit into the traditional two-hour movie format; the TV series, on the other hand, preserves the novel’s dense narratives. Homeland, another complex show, was created with Claire Danes in mind for the role of Carrie Mathison, a bipolar CIA agent. Danes was one of the first actresses to recognize the shifting TV landscape and smoothed the path for women like Rachel Brosnahan, who is wonderful as the frustrated housewife who becomes a stand-up comedian in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Katherine Langford, whose sensitive portrayal of a suicidal teenage girl made her an instant star in 13 Reasons Why; and the brilliant Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is harrowing and powerful as a sex worker turned porn director in The Deuce. TV’s allure is not just about interesting parts but also about creative control. Murphy, for instance, could easily segue to film but has just signed a generous deal with Netflix, where he is free to create unique and multifaceted characters—just ask the actor Evan Peters, who has costarred in eight Murphy projects, playing everything from a cult leader in American Horror Story to, most recently, a besotted yuppie in Pose. Taylor Sheridan, who was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay for the film Hell or High Water, created Yellowstone, writing and directing every episode, and personally casting Luke Grimes, who is riveting as a rebellious son working on his family’s ranch. Frankie Shaw developed SMILF, her semi-autobiographical story about a single mom–actress–basketball player. After her short film received a prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the project found a perfect home on premium cable. There is also less typecasting on TV. When Daveed Diggs was cast on Black-ish as the coolest family member, he had just won the Tony Award for his performances as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton, and had not been offered any compelling film roles. Likewise, Tahar Rahim had routinely been considered for film parts as a stereotypical villain. Instead, The Looming Tower, which details the events prior to 9/11, gave him a chance to create a nuanced hero. Conversely, Aubrey Plaza, who is widely known for her quirky dream-girl charm, longed to play more intense roles, and Legion lets her embrace her darker tendencies. Dominic Cooper is also best known for sunny characters in films like Mamma Mia!, and yet, in Preacher, he gets the opportunity to be malevolent and antisocial. Best of all, working for television no longer precludes a film career, as it once did: Take it from our two cover stars. Millie Bobby Brown rose to stardom as Eleven, a girl with supernatural powers on the hit series Stranger Things, and will soon star in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Letitia Wright cut her teeth on British TV, starring in Holby City, Top Boy, and Humans before being cast as Shuri in the block-buster Black Panther. That’s not to say that they are leaving their TV days behind. Quite the opposite, in fact: Brown reportedly just signed a $3 million deal for the new season of Stranger Things; and what did Wright take on, straight after filming for Black Panther wrapped up? A suitably unexpected, challenging role on the Netflix hit Black Mirror.
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
When I auditioned for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I wore this yellow shirt that I thought was adorable, but they asked me to change my clothes for my second audition, so I guess it wasn’t as adorable as I thought! The costumes are a huge part of Midge, my character. Her outer appearance is something she takes an enormous amount of pride in. Between the corset, the petticoats, the tights and the beautiful dresses, hair and makeup, I feel completely transformed when I walk out of my trailer. That’s my favorite part about being an actor. It always has been.
Mrs. Maisel does stand-up comedy. Were you nervous about being funny in front of an audience?
Comedy is terrifying. It’s probably the worst thing i could imagine anyone doing to themselves–and also the most exhilarating. But I would absolutely not attempt stand-up as myself. Nope. No. No. No. Never. Even as Midge, I do a lot of power posing in my dressing room to gain confidence.
Brosnahan wears a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello dress and boots.
Source: W Magazine
Screencaps & stills from Rachel’s 2013 episode of Grey’s Anatomy have been added to the gallery.
Screencaps from Rachel’s 2009 film The Truth About Average Guys have been added to the gallery.
Screencaps from Rachel’s appearance in the television series CSI: Miami have been added to the gallery.