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Best Performances is TV Guide’s Emmys video series highlighting the best acting performances of the year. Actors take viewers behind the scenes of their Emmy-nominated performances and explain the secrets of their craft.
Doing stand-up comedy is hard, but acting like you’re really good at stand-up comedy might be harder. And yet Rachel Brosnahan has won the hearts of critics and fans alike doing just that through her performance as Miriam “Midge” Maisel on Amazon’s breakout hit The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Over the course of the eight-episode first season, Brosnahan takes Midge from a devastated, deserted housewife to a triumphant New York City stand-up comedienne. The season’s final episode, “Thank You and Good Night,” which Brosnahan has submitted for consideration at this year’s Emmys, shows the full arc of Midge’s journey as she reconnects with her husband Joel (Michael Zegen), fights with his mistress Penny (Holly Curran), and ultimately learns to rely on herself to make her big comedy comeback.
Brosnahan’s real shining moment in the episode comes in the final scene, when she performs her first tight, rehearsed stand-up set and absolutely nails it. While Brosnahan, who is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, cut her teeth on serious dramas (House of Cards, Manhattan), she already knows that pulling off a funny scene means playing well with your scene partner, even if there’s a dozen of them.
“I knew that was a moment where you needed to see that Midge had found her voice as a stand-up. She had grown so much. She’d succeeded, she’d bombed — and both kind of on accident. This was purposeful, this was intentional. It was direct and she killed it,” Brosnahan explained for our Best Performances video series. “It was a lot of pressure, but thankfully we have some of the most incredible background actors on this show, who are scene partners in those scenes, who really give it all they have. They listen to me tell the same jokes for 16 hours a day and they laugh and give so much energy back. Really, I owe them so much for making those scenes come alive.”
The final scene isn’t the only instance in the episode in which Brosnahan pulls from her fellow actors’ energy, though. The actress shared a behind-the-scenes secret that explains why her showdown with Curran came off so electric.
“We went to college together. We’ve known each other for years and years and years, so to actually get to work together was … the best,” Brosnahan said. “Penny had hardly said anything through the entire first season. She had almost no lines and then to see her finally marching in and just opening her mouth, and the kinds of things that came out of it — that scene was a blast.”
“It was really such an incredible moment to see [Curran] shine, and [for us to] go toe-to-toe with each other, to go face-to-face and duke it out,” she continued. “It was cathartic to get to tell Penny off in a real way.”
The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Monday, Sept. 17 at 8/7c on NBC. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is currently streaming on Amazon.
Source: TV Guide
Rachel is looking amazing on the September cover of several Modern Luxury brand magazines. I’ve add photos from them, as well as August 20th People Magazine scans, to the gallery. Check out the corresponding article below.
Rachel Brosnahan’s story reads like aspiring-actress lore. Her career, up until recently, was comprised of a series of impressive recurring roles—the type of roles that would render her face “recognizable” without making her a household name. There was a memorable multiple-season stint on House of Cards as Rachel Posner, a high-end lady of the night who suffered an unfortunate end, which earned her an Emmy nom. There were two seasons of the critically acclaimed Manhattan and a several-episode role on Blacklist, as well as guest stints on Grey’s Anatomy, Orange Is the New Black and several other hit shows. Then came the big one, the career-changing role: She was cast as Miriam “Midge” Maisel in Amazon’s award-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, co-created by husband-and-wife duo Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino of Gilmore Girls fame. That was when things really took a turn.
As the story goes, Brosnahan was so sick during her audition she could have blacked out. What she does recall involves her sweating profusely and her shoes coming off. “When you don’t feel well or you’re overexhausted, all of your inhibitions fall away,” says Brosnahan, who lives in New York City, where Maisel is shot. “You do some of your most fearless work because you have nothing to lose.” That was clearly a good thing because the now-27-year-old got the role. Adding to the string of good luck, Amazon bought two seasons of the series based solely on the pilot. (It was recently announced the show has been renewed for a third season as well.) And, before many people had even seen the show, Brosnahan was onstage clutching a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy series (the show, too, won for best television series, musical or comedy). Just like that, Brosnahan was in need of recurring roles no more: She was a bona fide star. “Sometimes the awards stuff can feel awkward and strange,” says Brosnahan when I meet her for breakfast at The London West Hollywood. “The Globes were a nice reminder that [awards shows] are giant commercials in the best way possible. So many people reached out after the Globes saying, ‘I started watching the show,’ which was really encouraging.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel centers around a 1950s traditional, Jewish, Upper East Side housewife who discovers her husband—a businessman-by-day and aspiring-stand-up comedian by night—has been lifting his act from Bob Newhart and cheating on her with his secretary. In her anger and shock, Midge takes to the stage herself, proving she’s the one with actual talent. “Midge doesn’t start as a stand-up,” says Brosnahan. “She starts as a really funny woman whose life falls apart. And she’s sharp; she’s smart; she’s single-minded; she’s driven; and she finds her voice through stand-up comedy.” During Midge’s impromptu act, she—in a wine-fueled rage—flashes the crowd, sending her to jail for indecent exposure. Oh, and all of that happens in the pilot. “I get very frustrated by gratuitous nudity; it’s tired and distracts from storytelling, but I appreciated this pilot’s relationship to nudity because I think it’s funny,” says Brosnahan. “It’s not about sex or being sexualized. [Midge was] hitting a bottom she couldn’t have imagined.”
It’s ironic that the show, which premiered in March 2017, is now being watched in the shadow of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. After all, Midge starts off as a Stepford-esque character (one who takes off her makeup after her husband has fallen asleep and wakes up before him to reapply it), but she quickly becomes a self-reliant, strong, outspoken, modern woman. “The show was made before this moment erupted into what it is now, but it affected the way the audience viewed it and added another layer to the story,” says the actress.
Brosnahan is petite and pretty, dressed in a floral silk dress on the morning we meet. Her hair is down, and she’s in full makeup, which feels a bit surprising for 11am on a Sunday. I quickly find out it’s because she has already had to do press for the show that morning. If she’s tired, she doesn’t show it. Her demeanor is warm and down-to-earth, no doubt a reflection of her Midwestern roots (she was raised in Highland Park, Ill., outside Chicago). In high school, Brosnahan was a multihyphenate, both an athlete and a theater kid. She was on the wrestling—yes, wrestling—team and was a snowboarding instructor. But she soon realized performing was what truly had her heart. “I think it was something I always knew, but in high school I realized I never really wanted to do anything else,” says Brosnahan. “I loved performing and storytelling, and they were the only things I had interest in. At that point, I started pursuing it in an active way with an eye toward a future career.” She went on to NYU, landing roles throughout her time in college and yet still graduating because she promised her parents she would. “My dad made a deal with me when acting started to pick up,” she says. “He said, ‘I will cover your college tuition if you graduate. If you don’t graduate, you owe me every cent of tuition I have paid up until that point.’ I’m so grateful he pushed me to graduate because I don’t think I’d be here without such a well-rounded education,” she adds.
Brosnahan did graduate, but those initial roles led to bigger roles, and, finally, to her current much-buzzed-about Golden Globe-winning role. “The show is very theatrical,” she says. “It’s like shooting a miniplay a day. We do a lot of scenes where the camera is doing a dance with us. It’s heavily choreographed. I lost about 15 pounds shooting the first season, and I think it was just from the repetition of the walking and talking at such a fast pace.”
While Brosnahan plays a woman aspiring to be a successful stand-up, she harbors no secret desire to become one herself. “I have so much respect and admiration for stand-up comedians,” she says. “It makes me want to crawl into a hole. It takes a particular breed of brilliant masochist, and I’m happy to cheer them on from the sidelines.” Yet, playing a stand-up on TV has also given her a small glimpse into the difficult career choice’s appeal. “Toward the end of the season, I began to notice the difference between when the audience was laughing because they had to and when they were laughing because I made them laugh. I understood for the first time that thrill. It certainly would never make me want to go try stand-up myself, but I’m looking forward to doing more of it on the show.”
Beyond the incredible cast of characters that make up the show, including Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle as Midge’s parents, and Michael Zegen as her philandering husband, there is another major character that cannot be ignored: the clothes. “[Costume designer] Donna Zakowska’s process is so thorough,” says Brosnahan. “She pours through vintage magazines and looks for inspiration from Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and other fashion icons of the time. Donna is a real storyteller through the clothes.” According to the actress, approximately 85 to 90 percent of Midge’s costumes in the first season are built from scratch. “I knew I wasn’t allowed because we had a second season, but, one day, I am going to steal all of those clothes,” she says with a laugh.
Off camera, Brosnahan is far more casual when it comes to clothes, an unsurprising reaction to how formal her character is. “Comfort is key in my personal style,” she says. “The more I work, the more I go the other way in my real life. I’m someone who lives mostly in jeans and T-shirts.” When Brosnahan took home the Golden Globe she was in Vionnet. “I love discovering new young designers,” she says. “I just like to have fun with style. I’m learning a lot about designers I didn’t know before.”
Our breakfast meeting comes right before Brosnahan begins shooting the show’s second season, which she says will continue to dive into Midge’s evolution as an independent woman. “In season two, we will be further exploring the tension between her separate worlds: her life as a mother, a housewife, a daughter; and her life as a new working woman; and her life as an emerging stand-up comedian,” says Brosnahan. “I look forward to exploring all of the ways her different realities bump up against each other.”
As Brosnahan’s character evolves, so too does the woman playing the role. She hopes the industry she’s in follows suit. “I feel hopeful about the future, not only about the industry, but also the country,” she says. “I’m hopeful that women are empowered in a new way and that this is a historic moment we won’t look back from. But this is not the first—we are building on something that many generations of women before us started a long time ago.”
Source: Modern Luxury
Rachel is featured on the cover of the special Emmys edition of Vanity Fair magazine. Check out the photos and article below.
Brosnahan had never performed comedy before strapping on her Maisel corset for the first time. Now, with another Emmy nomination under her belt—and a Golden Globe win—Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new muse has plenty of reasons to smile.
There’s a moment in the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when the title character, a 1950s housewife turned up-and-coming stand-up comic, has to work a new type of room. Until now, she’s peddled her jokes mostly to pals at parties and small crowds at the cramped Gaslight Cafe—manageable groups, filled with friendly and slightly drunk faces. This time, though, she’s up against her biggest audience yet—an awareness that hit Rachel Brosnahan, who embodies Miriam “Midge” Maisel with an almost eerie precision, like a particularly sharp punch line. “As I got up onstage to perform that scene,” she says, “I realized that it was also bigger than anything that I was used to. And then I had the realization that it’s only going to get bigger and bigger—and more and more horrifying.”
Brosnahan is laughing when she tells this story, but she’s at least slightly serious about how scary it is for her to do comedy—even now. That’s because, as she’ll tell you herself, Brosnahan is emphatically not a comedian. She is, however, an actress—old-school, Method-trained, perhaps just the teensiest bit Type A. As a kid, she spent hours crafting a PowerPoint presentation in hopes of persuading her parents to let her get a dog. And as a 28-year-old, she channels that same energy into research. While preparing to play the title character in Amy Sherman-Palladino’s criminally charming comedy, Brosnahan didn’t just immerse herself in the work of Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller and Jean Carroll and Carol Burnett. She also made a habit of attending open mikes, so-called “bringer” shows, where wannabe comics must deliver a certain number of spectators if they want to secure a spot onstage.
Brosnahan didn’t get that dog until right before she went to college, but the care she took for Mrs. Maisel paid off immediately. The series, which Amazon has already renewed through its third season, is delightful, a candy-colored screwball throwback that easily stands out among television’s dour biggest hits (Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, HBO’s Westworld, FX’s dearly departed The Americans). Season One debuted last November 29; less than two weeks later, the series earned two Golden Globe nominations, for best comedy and for Brosnahan’s performance. It won both. At the Emmys, it will compete with 14 nominations, including outstanding comedy series and Brosnahan for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.
All that, and Brosnahan still hasn’t performed stand-up outside the confines of a soundstage. “I think that would prevent me from ever being able to do this job,” she says. “I’d be so traumatized.” Instead, when she goes to comedy shows, she dedicates herself to being the world’s most supportive spectator. “Having even had a taste of what it’s like,” says Brosnahan, “I am the one laughing the loudest at everybody’s jokes in the back, because I want them to feel seen and heard and encouraged.”
That’s true even when the comedians are practiced and the environs are significantly slicker. Case in point: this breezy June night, when she’s taking a break from Mrs. Maisel’s corsets and tongue-tripping monologues to catch a show at Caveat, a surprisingly roomy basement venue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Once, Midge Maisel may have visited this neighborhood to hunt for Judaica and discounted leather goods; now it’s a yuppie paradise where Russ & Daughters will add a schmear of goat’s-milk cream cheese to your everything bagel for just $4. In her jeans, leather jacket, and subtly chic gold-framed glasses—a far cry from Midge’s nipped waists and full, rustling skirts—Brosnahan fits right in.
“I’m late to every party. But when I arrive, I arrive.”
When comedians Dave Mizzoni and Matt Rogers take the stage, Brosnahan is the first person in the crowd to jump to her feet. (She’s not just being nice; the three of them went to N.Y.U. together, and other friends are in the audience tonight as well.) She laughs gamely and generously as the evening unfolds, even on the occasions when Mizzoni’s and Rogers’s very targeted references—the name of this program is “The Gayme Show,” and its tagline is “Exactly what you think”—whiz right past her.
Spending 16 hours a day surrounded by Eisenhower-era culture doesn’t leave a person much time to study the complete works of Frankie Grande (Ariana’s brother) or prolific YouTuber and Taylor Swift bestie Todrick Hall—or even to keep up with old co-workers. At one point, an extended riff on the new Ryan Murphy drama, Pose, ends with a pointed crack about series regular Kate Mara. Until she hears the joke, Brosnahan has no idea that Mara—who, like her, was a regular on House of Cards—is appearing on Pose or that Pose has already premiered.
“I don’t have a TV,” she says with a sigh. “I am living in 1957.”
If she woke up one morning and decided to become an expert on the life and times of pop-star-adjacent Instagram stars, though, there’s no question Brosnahan would excel. She may not be as brash as Midge Maisel, who memorably finishes her first impromptu stand-up performance by exposing herself to a crowd of roaring Beatniks, but she’s nearly as self-assured, and every bit as capable. She’s subverted expectations on bigger stages than this one, after all.
“I’m late to every party,” Brosnahan says by way of apology to Mara. “But when I arrive, I arrive.”
Objectively speaking, Brosnahan is being modest. She certainly didn’t arrive late to Hollywood: even before graduating from N.Y.U., in 2012, she was steadily booking bit parts on Gossip Girl, The Good Wife, and In Treatment. The roles were small but professional all the same, as essential to a budding acting career as a one a.m. open-mike slot is to a would-be Sarah Silverman.
“I’ve played Eating Disorder Girl, Girl, Call Girl—many types of girl,” she says, laughing. “That’s my type, all types of girl.” It’s a few hours before “The Gayme Show,” and Brosnahan is picking at a giant slice of carrot cake. Crowds of pastrami-seeking tourists have foiled our original plan to visit Katz’s Delicatessen; instead, we’ve settled into a squishy booth at the self-consciously retro Remedy Diner, a dead ringer for the vintage greasy spoons where Midge Maisel and her curmudgeonly manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), talk set lists over coffee and French fries.
Simple as these starter characters were, Brosnahan was savvy enough to see their value. Being last on the call sheet allowed her to listen, and observe, and take risks in a low-stakes environment before returning to the safe space of N.Y.U.’s Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute—where she could “ask questions, and study, and try to get better. And then try it again.”
As her undergraduate career wound to a close, Brosnahan’s persistence led her to the ultimate “girl” role: a throwaway part in the first two episodes of a new political drama called House of Cards, that of a nameless prostitute. Her handful of lines included uninspiring utterances like “Excuse me” and “I mean, I’m kinky, but I don’t know if I’m the girl you’re looking for.”
Former show-runner Beau Willimon saw potential in Brosnahan’s raw, arresting performance and her immediate chemistry with actor Michael Kelly, who plays pathologically loyal future White House chief of staff Doug Stamper. Soon, he expanded Call Girl into a proper part, one that had an arc and a backstory and a name. One that would, a few years later, earn Brosnahan an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a drama. Kelly, who received his first Emmy nomination the same year, credits her work with elevating his own.
“I was sitting at the lunch table when Beau said, ‘I think we got to give you a name,’” Kelly recalls.
The one Willimon settled on, funny enough, was “Rachel,” which inspired some mild protest from Brosnahan: “I was like, What?! Why?! That’s so fucked up!”
“Rachel was not afraid to not fall apart. She was not afraid to be angry and to stay tough.”
It was, as was Rachel the character’s sorry existence, which began when she was caught beside a drunk-driving congressman and ended, two seasons later, in a shallow grave somewhere in the New Mexico desert. (No wonder Amy Sherman-Palladino likes to classify Brosnahan’s pre–Mrs. Maisel parts as “the girl that someone’s tied up and thrown in the back of a van.”)
But House of Cards also offered another education for Brosnahan—taught her the ins and outs of having a significant part on a prestige series at the dawn of the peak-TV era—and gave her an outlet to display the dark side of her sense of humor, if only among her peers when the cameras weren’t rolling. She and Kelly, her most frequent scene partner, grew close enough that even filming her final moments ended up being a blast; scroll back far enough on her Instagram, and you’ll find a sweet snapshot of the two of them contentedly spooning in the dusty hole that will eventually house Call Girl Rachel’s lifeless body.
Then there’s the matter of Fake Rachel’s dead-eyed head, a silicone model designed solely to be buried. “On my phone somewhere, there are some pictures of Michael and Beau and I making out with Rachel’s head,” Brosnahan says, sounding simultaneously sheepish and proud. “It’s really—it’s dark.”
Though she couldn’t have known it at the time, this was also decent practice for Mrs. Maisel—whose surface whimsy conceals more than a hint of bleakness. The series begins at the end of an era for Midge Maisel—née Weissman—who has spent the entirety of her young life meticulously ticking every box on a very strict, self-imposed rubric for feminine success. She’s a Bryn Mawr graduate with an alabaster complexion and a 25-inch waist; she’s given her husband, the feckless but amiable Joel (Michael Zegen), two children, a boy and a girl. She’s secured the community’s most prominent rabbi as a guest for her upcoming Yom Kippur break-fast. If there were any justice, Midge would spend the rest of her days tending to her picture-perfect family, indulgently accompanying Joel on his jaunts to Greenwich Village comedy clubs until the two of them got old and gray and ditched Manhattan for Longboat Key.
And then Joel delivers his sucker punch. “I just don’t want this life, this whole Upper West Side, classic six, best seats in temple,” he tells Midge, after an embarrassing attempt at delivering his own jokes at the Gaslight. Oh, and he’s also been sleeping with his secretary, a skinny shiksa named Penny Pann. Sherman-Palladino and her husband and collaborator, Dan Palladino, asked every actress they considered for Midge to read three scenes in their audition, including the big breakup.
“Most of the actresses, great actresses, came in and broke down—fell apart, as sometimes you will when somebody walks out on your life,” Sherman-Palladino says. “And Rachel was not afraid to not fall apart. She was not afraid to be angry and to stay tough. Because the thing about that scene is it was not there to show her vulnerability. That scene was there to show that pain brought out the comic’s voice.”
Sure enough, shortly after Joel up and leaves—packing his things in Midge’s suitcase, a final insult to injury—Midge ends up back at the Gaslight, sloshed on kosher wine, and wanders onto the stage. Before she knows it, she’s telling a roomful of strangers every sordid detail of her wrecked marriage, but sculpting the story so it sounds amusing rather than pathetic. She heckles one dim-witted audience member; she interrupts her stream of consciousness to talk real estate with another. In the midst of explaining why she made a perfect wife, she announces that there’s no truth to “all that shit they say about Jewish girls in the bedroom᠁ There are French whores standing around the Marais district saying, ‘Did you hear what Midge did to Joel’s balls the other night?’ ” She doesn’t stop until the police show up to book her for public indecency and performing without a cabaret license, and even they can’t keep her from landing one last zinger as she gestures toward her exposed breasts: “You think Bob Newhart’s got a set of these at home? Rickles, maybe!”
The performance is spontaneous and exhilarating and very, very funny, everything that Joel isn’t—and from the moment she grabs the mike, it’s clear that both Midge and the actress playing her are going to be big, bright shining stars.
Sherman-Palladino, still best known as the creator of the fast-talking, culturally omnivorous Gilmore Girls, has no shortage of colorful descriptors for her newest muse. In her eyes, Brosnahan is simply not human: “She’s a space alien, or she’s some sort of magical creature, or—I believe I’ve described her before as a Tolkien character. She’s just, she’s just kind of not of this earth.” Then again, Brosnahan’s appeal as a performer may be even more elemental. “She’s a very smart girl, and she understands things—which is 90 percent of the job.”
Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Brosnahan was a shy and serious kid who spent much of her time immersed in fantasy—Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, the kiddie adventure novels of Enid Blyton. During the summers, which she spent with her mother’s family in England, she’d work her way through an entire carry-on bag filled with books before replacing them all with new volumes for the trip home.
Her family, she says, tends more toward the athletic than the arty. (They obviously have a creative side as well; one of her father’s sisters was the designer Kate Spade, who died in June.) Brosnahan herself is a snowboarder as well as a former high-school wrestler—a fact that greatly amused Sherman-Palladino—but also fell for acting at an early age: “Something about the transformational process just felt magical, like a lot of those books.”
It’s easy to picture Brosnahan as a thoughtful little bookworm, a Hermione Granger type with a slightly morbid edge. Even now, she speaks with the careful deliberation of someone who values and understands the weight of words; her diction is flawless, with crisply pronounced consonants and no trace of a midwestern twang. “You work with her on set, and then off set you’ll kind of chat with her—and then you’re occasionally reminded that she’s 28 years old,” says Dan Palladino. Sherman-Palladino had a rude awakening along those lines when she told Brosnahan that she resembled a more smiley Tracy Flick: “She’s like, ‘Who’s that?’ I’m like, ‘Election?’ She goes, ‘What?’ And I’m 100. I’ve officially—I just turned 100.”
So perhaps it comes as no surprise that Brosnahan wasn’t the most obvious choice to play Midge, a gregarious macher who speaks as quickly as, well, a woman dreamed up by Amy Sherman-Palladino. David Oyelowo, who played Othello to Brosnahan’s Desdemona in New York Theatre Workshop’s 2016 production, said in an e-mail that his co-star was worried about Mrs. Maisel initially because she didn’t consider herself to be funny. (“She is of course saying this while we’re taking silly selfies backstage just before I had to go onstage and murder her,” he added.) Brosnahan isn’t even Jewish—though Highland Park itself was Jewish enough, she says, that she’s been to “hundreds of Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs. I could maybe Bat Mitzvah you.”
Going into her Mrs. Maisel audition, though, Brosnahan had two things working in her favor. The first was that she’d recently finished playing a Jewish wife and mother with a well-to-do background and an enviable wardrobe on the little-watched but very good WGN America drama Manhattan, set within the desert compound where American scientists raced to design and build the first atomic bomb. Sam Shaw, that show’s creator, remembers that Brosnahan originally wanted to play the role of physicist Helen Prins. She worried that Abby Isaacs, the part she ended up getting, “would become Wife No. 3, like signing on for seven years of making crudités or something,” he says. But while Abby was not the show’s lead, she wasn’t a background character, either. The part gave Brosnahan an opportunity to imbue a woman of a bygone era with real depth, and to learn how to navigate restrictive, period-appropriate shapewear. (“I have learned so much about undergarments,” she says, deadpan. “And I truly don’t understand how anybody survived the 50s.”)
The second thing working in Brosnahan’s favor was that she wanted the part of Midge Maisel. Like, really wanted it, maybe more than anything since her parents got her that dog. Before she read the Mrs. Maisel script, Brosnahan was planning to turn away from TV and toward theater and film. After, there was no question that Midge had to be hers. She’s the kind of character, Brosnahan says, that “I often don’t see represented on television—somebody who is unapologetically confident, who has an innate sense of self-empowerment, who isn’t afraid to pat herself on the back for accomplishing goals. And who’s unapologetically ambitious.” While Midge is charming and lovable, she’s also superficial and flighty and a breathtakingly terrible mother who measures her baby’s forehead when she’s worried it’s getting too big; a flawed, recognizably human person, rather than a plucky proto-feminist who conforms precisely to 21st-century ideals.
That’s catnip for a determined young actress—and for a viewing audience beaten down by a news cycle of ever mounting tragedy and violence, not to mention a TV landscape dominated by dreariness. Even the comedies sharing Emmy space with Mrs. Maisel (Atlanta, Barry) are as likely to punch viewers in the gut as they are to make them laugh. “It’s a pretty shit time to be alive, and this show’s like a little ant moving a rubber-tree plant,” says Alex Borstein, who plays Susie, the wannabe agent who persuades Midge to pursue showbiz in a serious way. “You want to see these two people succeed. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
That was especially true in November, when the series debuted its full first season just as the #MeToo movement was reaching its zenith. It was a moment when every Twitter refresh seemed to expose a new, horrifying story of sexual misconduct. And then came Mrs. Maisel, a burst of cleansing light—colorful, fast-paced, sunny as an old-fashioned musical, but without anyone breaking into song. Ironically, it’s one of the only female-oriented shows that was green-lighted by former Amazon Studios head Roy Price before he resigned last October, after being accused of sexual harassment himself. (Price has not commented on the allegations.) Though there’s some darkness at its core, Mrs. Maisel is, above all, the jubilant story of a talented woman who works hard, triumphing over the odds and her mediocre loser of a husband. It is, as Brosnahan points out, partly a fantasy. But what a fantasy.
It’s impossible to know to what extent Mrs. Maisel’s exultant reception has been affected by fortuitous timing. Brosnahan grows more thoughtful than usual when asked whether she believes it was, noting that the show’s story would be inspiring no matter the surrounding context. But possibly, she continues, Mrs. Maisel had an even greater impact because it debuted at a time when “we’re talking about women finding voices they didn’t know they had,” and—her words coming faster now, and more emphatically—“young people finding voices they didn’t know they had. This is a theme of the moment.”
Brosnahan has given a lot of thought to The Moment and, more specifically, to its momentum—how her industry, and all industries, can parlay this surge of righteous anger into lasting change. Though she’s never been a particularly active social-media user, she’s backed away from Twitter, she says, “because it just feels like we’re all shouting into a vacuum, and I’m trying to focus more on taking those active statements out of Twitter and into the real world.”
As her star rises, Brosnahan has also found herself being more careful about the things she posts online—for practical reasons, as well as the understandable desire to keep her private life private. “As somebody who’s always felt like a pretty open book, I find myself being very protective of whatever the elusive real me is,” she says. Famous performers sometimes become celebrities first and actors second, a fate that would have robbed Brosnahan of her prized ability to disappear fully into a role. (That said, she does have a very cute Instagram largely devoted to her dogs: a Shiba Inu named Winston and a pit bull named Nikki.)
Brosnahan doesn’t just hope to keep her on-screen options open. She’d love to do another play in the near-ish future, to produce, to direct. She wants to see and make more stories that focus on the nuances of female friendship, like one of her current favorite shows, Issa Rae’s Insecure. She’s already developing a pilot with a couple of friends, one that focuses on young people in politics. Brosnahan doesn’t plan to star in the show, but perhaps it’ll be a stepping-stone to the next phase in her career—just as those “girl” parts led to House of Cards led to Manhattan led to Mrs. Maisel.
As of now, Brosnahan’s success hasn’t had a hugely measurable impact on her day-to-day life. She can walk her dogs in broad daylight without being swarmed; she can laugh at a comedian’s joke about Oprah without anyone around her recognizing that she actually knows Oprah. (Or at least said hello to Oprah from the stage after winning a Golden Globe.) The biggest shift, she says, is that people finally know how to pronounce “Brosnahan.” But if she keeps climbing the way Mrs. Maisel’s heroine certainly will, all this could change as well.
Remember, she admires Midge for being unapologetically ambitious. And when asked if she’d describe herself the same way, Brosnahan doesn’t hesitate: “Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah!” Then, after a brief, perfectly timed beat, the TV comedian turns to the magazine reporter and nails another punch line: “How about you?”
Source: Vanity Fair
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.
“What group of totally complete a******s needs a skating rink in the middle of summer?” asks the first look at the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that Amazon dropped today.
There wasn’t a launch date unveiled yet for the Golden Globe winning and multiple Emmy nominated 1950s set comedy from Amy-Sherman Palladino, but we do know where they are going. The location would be the Catskills as the spurned housewife-turned-comedian played by Rachel Brosnahan takes her particular style of comedy and her Alex Borstein played manager on the road out of NYC and upstate.
Having debuted in November last year, the Lenny Bruce portrayed cameoed series from the House of Bezos is looking like the lead contender in a slew of comedy categories for the September 17 Primetime Emmys.
Even with 14 nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Brosnahan, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Tony Shalhoub, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Borstein, TMMM doesn’t look to be taking anything for granted in a continuous FYC campaign.
Already renewed for a third season, the tale of the sharp tongued Upper West Side divorcee is planning to pop up all over the City of Angels on the 13th, 20th and 27th of August with Maisel look-a-likes, pop up pink lemonade stands and old skool ice cream carts to keep those Emmy voters hydrated and happy. Additionally, with doors opening at 6:30 PM, Amazon Prime Video will be holding a screening at Hollywood Forever tonight of the first two episodes of Season 1 and a whole lotta NYC delicacies.
Sorta like the Catskills, but different.
Additional scans from InStyle Magazine have been added to the gallery.
Miriam “Midge” Maisel has it all. Beauty, wit, a home that belongs in a magazine spread, and an alliterative name. Then she loses a major piece of the puzzle: her husband, who philanders and leaves her high and dry after sparking an interest in stand-up comedy in her. It’s on the stage that she finds success and herself, and it’s online that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has found similar success.
An effervescent comedy from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, the Rachel Brosnahan-starring series also tackles modern sexual politics with quick quips and antique flair. Here are 10 facts about the Amazon Studios series, which was just nominated for eight Emmy Awards.
1. THEY BORROWED AN HERB FROM ROSEMARY’S BABY.
In an early episode, a fortune teller hands over a charm to Midge’s mom, Rose (Marin Hinkle), that includes tannis root, which is made up. Specifically, it was invented for the Roman Polanski horror film Rosemary’s Baby, which doesn’t involve comedy so much as it involves a New York City apartment complex filled with Satan worshippers.
2. SOME INITIAL ADVERTISING MADE A CONFUSING RELIGIOUS STATEMENT.
Amazon promos described Midge’s home as “an elegant Upper East Side apartment perfect for hosting Yom Kippur dinner,” which may have confused potential Jewish fans since Yom Kippur is marked by fasting. There is a meal called a “Break-the-Fast,” and while the pilot episode of the show gets that right, the advertising does not.
3. AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO’S FATHER WAS A COMIC IN THE 1950S.
The show opens in 1958, which required a healthy amount of research, but Sherman-Palladino had the inside track. Her father was Don Sherman, who started off in the Greenwich Village comedy scene. “I grew up with stand-up comedians hanging out in my house,” Sherman-Palladino told Variety. “Stand-up comedians either work a lot or they have a lot of time on their hands to hang around with each other eating deli and making each other laugh. It was like Broadway Danny Rose a lot of the time at my house.” She also dedicated an episode to her father.
4. RACHEL BROSNAHAN WAS TOLD REPEATEDLY THAT SHE WASN’T FUNNY.
Up until she was cast as Midge, Rachel Brosnahan mostly played haunted-eyed girls in severe dramas (see: House of Cards). A lot of bad stuff happened to her characters. She also lost a lot of acting jobs because, while talented, casting directors didn’t think she was funny. “It happened enough times that there was a pattern,” Brosnahan told Glamour. “I thought, ‘Maybe I should listen to it.’ Now I’ve realized you can continue to learn things even when you’ve formed a really solid sense of self.” Now she’s an award-winning comedic actor. Not bad for someone who isn’t funny.
5. THE CREATOR KEEPS ASKING ACTORS IF THEY HAVE MORE HIDDEN TALENTS.
Beyond making a dramatic actor learn how to be a convincing stand-up comic, Sherman-Palladino continues to keep the actors on their toes. After wrapping the first season, Brosnahan got a text from Sherman-Palladino asking if she could ride a bike. Marin Hinkle got a text asking if she could speak French. They also made Brosnahan do something involving “a rolling chair and some choreography” that we’ll have to wait for season two to see. “Took a tumble, so I’m learning new skills,” Brosnahan said.
6. MIDGE IS A SALUTE TO JOAN RIVERS.
Midge is brimming with the same kind of pioneering spirit exemplified by early female comics like Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers. Midge has a certain brashness that would resonate particularly with the latter. Brosnahan watched a lot of Rivers’s performances to prepare for the role, and even though their styles are somewhat different, their drive and tenacity in a male-dominated field is the same.
7. SHERMAN-PALLADINO WANTED TO MAKE A PERIOD PIECE BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T LIKE TECHNOLOGY.
The writer/producer is known for caffeine-powered dialogue that’s laced with pop culture references aplenty, but she’s not the biggest fan of modernity. Besides creating an homage to her father’s early career, mounting a mid-century series appealed to Sherman-Palladino because of its technological limitations. She relished “the opportunity to do any sort of show where I don’t have to think about Shapchat—I’m thrilled, delighted because I don’t understand technology. I just want to go back to a time where there wasn’t any,” she told Vanity Fair.
8. COFFEE IS ONE KEY TO THE CHARACTER.
How does one spew all those lines written by Sherman-Palladino? “It helps when you really love the project and the role,” Brosnahan told Harper’s Bazaar. “But as we went on, it definitely involved digging pretty deep, and a lot of coffee. Lots and lots and lots of coffee.” The show’s scripts are 10 to 15 pages longer than the average television series.
9. BROSNAHAN GOT THE ROLE DESPITE BOMBING AN AUDITION AND GETTING APOCALYPTICALLY SICK.
After years of being told she wasn’t funny, Brosnahan almost missed the Mrs. Maisel boat, too. She thought she’d done horribly in her initial audition, and then she got sick just before a second chance test with Sherman-Palladino and executive producer Dan Palladino. She postponed the test to see if she’d get better, but she only got worse.
“I rallied, but I honestly was so sick during the camera test,” Brosnahan admitted. “I was so sweaty Amy kept stopping me because I had to powder my face, I was blowing my nose, I took my shoes off at some point … at best, that test was a beautiful disaster. But Midge is kind of a disaster sometimes.”
10. BROSNAHAN DOESN’T THINK OF MIDGE AS A FEMINIST.
Despite treading on traditionally male ground, Brosnahan doesn’t apply the feminist label to her character. Hers is more of a quiet, personal, subversive revolution. “What I love about Midge is that she is so not a feminist,” she told The New York Times. “She’s a creature of her time. What she is, is curious. She’s insatiable. If she doesn’t know things, she wants to know them. And she doesn’t know any other way than forward.”
Source: Mental Floss
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) has a commanding lead in our Emmy predictions for Best Comedy Actress. The vast majority of Gold Derby’s users are betting on her to win, giving her leading odds of 2/11. But one can’t help but wonder, would she still have such a commanding lead if she had to battle Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”)? Vote in our poll at the bottom of this post.
Louis-Dreyfus won Best Comedy Actress six times in a row (2012-2017) for playing inept politician Selena Meyer in “Veep.” No one has ever won the category that many times, and certainly not for the same role. Louis-Dreyfus’s record is even more impressive because she also won that race in 2006 for “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” and she won Best Comedy Supporting Actress for “Seinfeld” back in 1996. Those eight Emmys mean she is tied with Cloris Leachman for the most acting wins ever at the Primetime Emmys.
But it’s rare to discover a breakout star like Brosnahan, who is reminiscent of 2007 Best Comedy Actress champ America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) and 2016 Best Drama Actress victor Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) in how quickly she has made a name for herself with her breakthrough role. She’s the reigning Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice winner for her performance as the title character, a wife and mother who becomes a defiant stand-up comic.
“Maisel” is one of the most nominated comedies of the year with 14 bids (behind only “Atlanta” with 16). And on top of that, Brosnahan was a surprise Emmy nominee in 2015 for Best Drama Guest Actress for “House of Cards,” so the TV academy liked her before it was cool.
Louis-Dreyfus is out of the running this year because she was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2017, and her treatment delayed production on the seventh and final season of “Veep.” So we won’t get to see a showdown between the two leading ladies — at least not this year.
After six straight wins Emmy voters might have been ready to move on to a new winner even if Louis-Dreyfus were around this year. Then again, it might have been tempting to reward her for her “Veep” swan song and complete an undefeated streak that seems unlikely ever to be repeated.
It’s impossible to know for sure how Louis-Dreyfus would have fared for a season that hasn’t aired yet, but what do you think? Given her history and Brosnahan’s breakout, which one of them do you think would have won in a head-to-head match-up?
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.
Source: Gold Derby
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.”