Category: Press

Press/Video: Golden Globe nominee Rachel Brosnahan teases season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

“She’s f—ing good!”

Those are the words Midge Maisel’s husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), uses to describe his wife (Rachel Brosnahan) as a stand-up comic in the season 1 finale of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Throughout the first season, Midge kept her new career a secret from her entire family. But in season 2, which launched on Amazon Prime Video on Wednesday, the jig is up and Midge is forced to blend her two lives.

“The first season followed Midge discovering her voice in a brand new way after her picture perfect life fell apart and season 2 tracks the ripple effect how this explosive secret she’s sitting on,” says Brosnahan, who was nominated for a second Golden Globe on Thursday morning. “Her newfound career in stand-up comedy affects everyone around her and then in turn how that limits her well-practiced ability to compartmentalize those different parts of her life.”

Brosnahan is particularly thrilled with how her character’s relationship with her manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), has evolved in the new season.

“It’s been really wonderful exploring how their friendship becomes more intimate and their partnership becomes more real for both of them,” she says.

While the actress is honored to be nominated for her work in season 2 (especially after her Golden Globe and Emmy wins for season 1), she wasn’t exactly waiting by the phone for the Golden Globe nominations to be announced early Thursday morning.

“I’m in Prague and because of the time difference I was a little bit confused about when all this would be going down, so I actually was on a walking tour of the city and had just stepped foot inside a large Gothic cathedral when my phone started buzzing, I was trying not to look at it out of respect to the church!” she says. “But it’s great to know we’re not the only ones who are proud of it and we’re just so grateful that people continue to love the show as much as we do. The real win was to be able to play a role like this with creators and writers and directors that I admire so greatly and with this cast, I mean, come on! All of this stuff is just icing on the cake and it’s nice to be invited back to the party. It sounds so cliché but it’s so true, I’ve already won.”

Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Press: Rachel Brosnahan is thrilled comics don’t hate The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Press: Rachel Brosnahan is thrilled comics don’t hate The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The star of Amazon’s period piece set in the ‘50s New York comedy scene also talks season 2.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is all about the trials and tribulations of Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a wife abandoned by her adulterous husband Joel (Michael Zegen) who decides to radically transform her personal and professional life. It’s also about a slew of strong supporting characters played by the likes of Marin Hinkle, Tony Shalhouband Alex Borstein.

And through it all, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel manages to remain one of the fastest shows on television. It’s almost as if co-creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino purposefully wanted to keep their performers on their toes, but the cast doesn’t seem to mind – especially Brosnahan.

“Our prep time was often short between shooting episodes,” she tells Metro, “so learning that volume of dialogue as quickly as was necessary was definitely the biggest ongoing challenge for us.”

Even so, like Borstein, the Emmy Award-winning actress is up for the challenge. After all, despite the forgivable assumption that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 would slow down a tad following its rapid first outing, nothing could be farther from the truth.

“Things didn’t feel like they slowed down to us,” says Brosnahan. “Midge is still her same fast talkin’, fast walkin’ self. She’s spinning so many plates at once while trying to keep her comedic alter-ego a secret from her family.” As a result, she notes, filming for season 2 actually “felt faster than ever from the inside.”

Throughout the first season, Midge spent her nights refining her natural comedic abilities with the help of her fellow comic and manager, Susie (Borstein), while juggling a day job and two children. Season 2 is much of the same, which makes sense as it services the story Sherman-Palladino and Palladino want to tell. But it’s the show’s attention to historical detail, albeit with a few dramatized flourishes, that has caught the attention of comedy aficionados.

The co-creators are known for their detail-oriented writing style. What’s more, the new season’s writer’s room included two playwrights and two comedians, the latter group consisting of Jen Kirkman and Noah Gardenswartz. Their inclusion is especially felt whenever Midge or another comedian character is performing onstage, but Brosnahan and company also appreciated their involvement for another reason: realism.

Television shows about stand-up comedians are a dime a dozen. This is as true for “Peak TV” as it was for the advent of the modern sitcom. Yet the details in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are remarkable. Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) recurs throughout both seasons, as does the Phyllis Diller-esque Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch). Even the black evening gown, matching gloves and pearls Midge wears in her final performance of season 1 is reminiscent of Joan Rivers.

All of this, and more, helps the program stand apart, and Brosnahan couldn’t be more relieved for it.

“I’m so relieved that most of them don’t hate us,” she says. “It’s been encouraging to hear from quite a few comedians that, despite usually hating depictions of stand-up in film and on television, Midge’s journey resonates with them.”

She concludes “the process of honing material, vying for prime slots and even losing a grip on one’s societal filters apparently seems familiar to them.”

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Source: Metro

Press: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s’ Rachel Brosnahan on sightseeing in Prague as her Golden Globe nomination was announced

Press: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s’ Rachel Brosnahan on sightseeing in Prague as her Golden Globe nomination was announced

There was a sense of déjà vu at work as Rachel Brosnahan received her Golden Globe nomination for actress in a comedy or musical series Thursday. This year began with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star winning the Golden Globe in the same category for the first season of her show. Now, as 2018 draws to a close, she has been nominated for the second season, which debuted Wednesday on Amazon.

“It’s just wild,” said Brosnahan, reached by phone as she was playing tourist while on location for an upcoming movie set in Prague. “It’s the warmest welcome for Season 2.” Below, she speaks about her nomination and some of the key sights in the Czech Republic capital.
The day would seem to be starting on a good note for you, right?

I’m actually in Prague, so it’s just gotten dark. It’s evening for me. I was very awake when I got the news. I’ve only been in Prague for a couple of days so I’m still not quite with the time difference. I was actually on a walking tour. And I was in a Gothic cathedral, I guess, and was trying not to look at my phone as it was going off. I just continued on the walking tour. I waited until I got out of the church to check my phone.
The Globes have sort of become part of the show’s success story — did it seem that way to you, that last year’s win gave the show a boost?

Absolutely — 100%. We had just aired the first season when nominations were announced last year. It was really what helped people find us to begin with. We are so grateful to be recognized for a second — they are absolutely part of the beginning of our story. It both feels like eternity ago and like yesterday.
Do you think that Midge would do well hosting the Globes?

I think Midge [Brosnahan’s character in the show] would be so great at this; Rachel, uhhhh.
What do you remember from the ceremony last year?

Very little, honestly. I feel like I was just buzzing the whole night. I was so nervous and excited — so many conflicting emotions. I just remember seeing Oprah and forgetting everything, including my name. It was a really special night. One I have completely forgotten and one I will never forget.

An element of the show that people have really admired is the dynamic between Midge and Susie — here were two friends who didn’t spend their time just talking about men. Was that refreshing for you?

It was unbelievably refreshing for me as an actress to read this friendship. And for it to be at the center of Midge’s story. There aren’t nearly enough shows — although, there are more now — but growing up, there weren’t nearly enough shows that explored the ins and outs of female friendships. They can be ugly and messy and intensely intimate and magical all at the same time. We definitely explore more of those dynamics in Season 2.
Have you had time to talk to Alex [Borstein] yet?

Not yet! I just got finished with this walking tour. I’m on my way back to my hotel to send some texts and emails.
What’s been the best part of that walking tour? Maybe we can give Prague visitors some tips.

We went up to Prague Castle, which is extraordinary. And just getting to see so much of Prague in this 2 ½-hour tour. It was amazing. It gave me a lot of ideas of where I’d like to go back to and explore more. I’m here for another 10 days or so. I’m shooting a film out here called “Ironbark.”
How do you plan to celebrate tonight?

I’m gonna walk around Prague some more and find a restaurant and have a beer. And I just found out that Benedict Cumberbatch, who is also in the movie, was nominated for “Patrick Melrose.” I’m gonna have to track him down and give him a squeeze when the walking is over.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Press: Rachel Brosnahan, Star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, on the Funny Women She Admires

Press: Rachel Brosnahan, Star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, on the Funny Women She Admires

When forming her character, the actress looked to both historical and contemporary female comedians.

When we first meet Midge Maisel of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, she thinks she has it all: a husband, a beautiful apartment, and two healthy kids (though she seems to forget about them fairly often). Hell, the rabbi is even coming over for Yom Kippur—a coup that Midge mentions to anyone who will listen.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for her perfect world to fall apart. Halfway through the pilot episode, her beloved husband Joel up and leaves, abruptly revealing an ongoing affair with his secretary. At a loss (and more than a few drinks in), Midge stumbles onto the downtown stage from which Joel once poorly riffed. The starts to tell jokes and she’s good—really, really good.

So begins Midge’s quest to become a Great Stand-up Comedian, aided in no small part by her manager, Susie Myerson, and real-life midcentury comedian Lenny Bruce. By the end of the season, she’s performing regularly, and often getting in trouble for it—whether with the cops or, as in the finale’s cliffhanger, with her maybe-not-ex-husband Joel.

We spoke with Rachel Brosnahan (now up for her second Golden Globe in the role!), to get an idea of where Midge’s head is at the start of season two—and of where she might go in the future.

What comics did you look to when you were trying to figure out how to play Midge?

Before I’d ever met [creators and showrunners] Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino] or spoke to anyone about it—having read the script and done some research about the first female comedians—I discovered a woman named Jean Carroll, who I’d never heard of. She was a whip-smart, beautiful, hilarious comedian, and I found her work as early as 1955. I initially thought that Midge must be inspired by her. I later learned that Midge is just Midge, and sort of inspired by a lot of different comedians.

So I looked toward Jean Carroll, Joan Rivers of course, Phyllis Diller, Moms Maybley, Don Rickles, Elaine May. Yeah, many, many people. I love research; I’m a nerd.

Did you do any historical research to get into a 1950s state of mind?

I did a lot of research about what it meant to be a woman and a housewife during that time. I went on eBay and bought a lot of vintage Good Housekeeping magazines, and other women’s magazine titles that are escaping me. I read the kind of advice that women were being given, and taking in, and teaching their children. And yeah, watched a couple documentaries about New York in the 1950s. I just tried to place myself in the period.
Was there any advice in those magazines that stuck out to you as particularly insightful?

Oh gosh. The stuff that disturbed me the most were the articles advising how to get a husband. You know, “make sure you smell nice; make sure you don’t talk too loudly, or wear colors that are too bright.” Basically, “be seen in an appealing way, but not heard too much, but enough that you seem smart.” I mean just the number of rules and restrictions— how much you should eat, you know, in front of a man—were… disturbing. Unpleasant.

To say the least.

Yeah. But you know, but there was also some great advice about dress patterns and good decor. It was fascinating.
I’m sure. It seems like a whole other world.

Yeah it was. I found some amazing advertisements. Because I’d obviously read the pilot, with that now infamous scene where Midge goes to sleep with her makeup on, and wakes up in the middle of the night to take it off, and wakes up early in the morning to put it back on. I pulled an advertisement where a woman was pictured in bed with a full face of makeup on. I was like, “this, this is the message we were sending.”

Do you have a favorite costume that you got to wear?

So impossible to choose. We have so many incredible costumes. Our costume designer Donna Zakowska has continued to outdo herself in this season. She really has.

We’ve entered summer, which is a new season for the show, so Midge has some fabulous summer dresses and a good swimsuit. I go back and forth on my favorite. It’s probably her summer dress which she arrives in the Catskills in, which you see a little bit of in the trailer. It’s this beautiful yellow floral dress, and it has a yellow hat and matching yellow shoes and a cute little yellow bag. And I just love it. It’s a happy dress.

Do you have to wear period undergarment like girdles or corsets?

So I’m in a corset. It’s not a period corset, thank goodness. It’s not one of those stick your foot in someone’s back and pull as tight as you can corsets. Its purpose is only to change the placement of my waist. Because per our brilliant Donna, in the 1950s it was very fashionable to have a very long waist, the longer the better. And so a lot of the costumes and designs are done that way. My waist is more of a 1940s shape, it’s kind of right in the middle of my body, and so the corset just punches my waist down a little bit lower. But it is tight. And I’m in stockings and petticoats and heels and things.

I’m grateful that we’ve done away with a lot of that. Although the Kardashians are bringing corsets back. I’m very confused about that.
Yeah, I’ve met some people who do waist training.

No, no! As someone who accidentally waist trained, don’t!
Are there any contemporary female comics that you admire?

Yeah. I love Sarah Silverman. Ali Wong is one of my favorites. I watched Baby Cobra a bunch of times to get ready for shooting the pilot. I’ve seen this comic Laurie Kilmartin a couple times in and around New York and she cracks me up. So many good ones out there right now.

Did you ever do any non-Midge-related stand-up to get the hang of it?

No, absolutely not. I would be so traumatized; I don’t think I’d ever be able to get up on a stage. Because a huge part of being a stand-up is writing your own material. And I’m not a writer, I’m an actor. I’m so fortunate to have such brilliant writers creating Midge’s stand-up for me.

No, I’ve definitely never tried my hand at stand-up, but I’ve gone to see a lot of it. I enjoy watching from a distance. From a safe distance.
What do you want see for Midge in season three?

I want to see her be wildly successful. I want to see her make a firm commitment to pursuing this path. We’ve watched try her hand at something new and rise to the top of it very quickly. And in season two I think she’s going to be confronted with the sometimes gritty reality of what that chosen career path looks like. It’s not easy to break barriers in a completely male-dominated industry; the kinds of unique obstacles that she will face as a result are not all sunshine and rainbows.

So in season three, I would like to see her be willing to fall without a safety net. She’s always had this support system, she’s got her family and her friends some kind of back-up finances. The stakes are not quite as high for her as they are for Susie. I’d like to see her willing to take the leap and let them be higher for her too.

Source: Town & Country

Press/Video: Best Performances: How Rachel Brosnahan Nailed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Perfect Set

Press/Video: Best Performances: How Rachel Brosnahan Nailed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Perfect Set

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

Press/Photos: Modern Luxury + People Magazine

Press/Photos: Modern Luxury + People Magazine

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

Press/Photos: The Funny Thing About Rachel Brosnahan

Press/Photos: The Funny Thing About Rachel Brosnahan

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

Press/Videos/Photos: Rachel Brosnahan Once Received Career Advice Involving a Drone and a Lightning Storm

Press/Videos/Photos: Rachel Brosnahan Once Received Career Advice Involving a Drone and a Lightning Storm

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.


Press/Video: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Is Going To The Catskills In Season 2 Teaser

Press/Video: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Is Going To The Catskills In Season 2 Teaser

“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.

Source: Deadline

Press/Photos: InStyle Magazine Scans

Press/Photos: InStyle Magazine Scans

Additional scans from InStyle Magazine have been added to the gallery.


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