Category: Press

Press: “It’s So Hard to Be Right”: The Comedy Actress Roundtable

The Hollywood Reporter has added an interview from the Comedy Actress Roundtable as well as the interview segments of the rest of the Roundtable actors. Check out the interview & links to the segments below.

Seven of TV’s top funny ladies — Drew Barrymore, Rachel Brosnahan, Alison Brie, Tracee Ellis Ross, Debra Messing, Molly Shannon and Frankie Shaw — open up about pushing boundaries, demanding fair pay and the long, hard battle to keep their clothes on: “It wasn’t until we started having these conversations that I realized I’d been sexually harassed.”

These days, there is a palpable camaraderie when you bring together Hollywood’s highest-profile actresses. At least a few of those who gathered for The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Television Comedy Actress Roundtable have spent recent months in war rooms and on email chains mapping out a plan to change the gender politics that have contributed to a culture of #MeToo accusations and glaring pay inequality. The passion that has fueled the Time’s Up movement was on display during this mid-April conversation, which touched on everything from nudity demands to a yanked episode of Black-ish. Over the course of an hour, the septet — Drew Barrymore, 43 (Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet); Alison Brie, 35 (Netflix’s GLOW); Rachel Brosnahan, 27 (Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel); Debra Messing, 49 (NBC’s Will & Grace); Tracee Ellis Ross, 45 (ABC’s Black-ish); Molly Shannon, 53 (HBO’s Divorce); and Frankie Shaw, 36 (Showtime’s SMILF) — got deeply personal, with at least a few tales prompting spontaneous table-banging and plenty of applause.

Let’s start broad: What’s the most amusing or frustrating feedback you’ve received when trying out for a part?

TRACEE ELLIS ROSS I had a casting director say I need to work on my girls, as they [her breasts] were referred to, because they were too low, which is where God put them, so I think they’re in a really good spot. (Laughs.) But she called down the hall for one of her assistants to bring another bra …

ALISON BRIE During an audition?

ROSS
Yes, ma’am.

DREW BARRYMORE Oh no.

ROSS Yes, ma’am. (Laughter.) She was like, “Does anyone have on a 34B?” They come down, and it was a 32 something or other, and I was like, “That’s not gonna fit.” She was like, “They’ll spill out, it’ll be great.”

FRANKIE SHAW One time I was in an audition for House of Lies, and the casting director said I needed to show more skin. She actually took the shirt off her back and gave me her tank top. I still didn’t get the part.

MOLLY SHANNON I remember going to an audition when I was first starting out, and I bumped into another girl auditioning who, right before I went in, was like, “Oh, my God, have you gained, like, a hundred pounds?”

RACHEL BROSNAHAN No!

BARRYMORE That happened to me recently. I’d gained a bunch of weight, and I was in a restaurant, and a woman goes, “God, you have so many kids.” And I was like, “Well, two.” And she goes, “And obviously one on the way.” I looked at her and, for the first time in my life, I go, “No, I’m just fucking fat.” (Everyone claps.)

There’s been lots of discussion lately about whether we can and should be able to separate art from the artist. Where do you stand?

SHAW It depends on how harmful they are.

ROSS And what the harm is.

This has come up in the context of Roseanne Barr and her controversial social media presence, which prompted some to boycott her sitcom [before it was canceled by ABC a month and a half after this interview].

DEBRA MESSING In a perfect world, we take on a different character, one that’s separate from ourselves. The thing that has made Roseanne and Roseanne Barr so …

ROSS Compelling?

MESSING Divisive.

ROSS Better word.

MESSING … is that, in its day, it was one of the greatest shows ever, and it really pushed the boundaries, but she made it clear from the beginning that this was her — she said, “I’m just being me.” That’s very different from saying, “I’m creating a character.” And then when you have someone who is very outspoken on social media and who says things like “Heil Hitler” or that gay people are pedophiles or …

BROSNAHAN Oh God.

MESSING So, it’s not about having a conversation about health care or about defense of the country, it’s about humanity, racism, sexism.

SHAW
And essentially normalizing white supremacy.

BROSNAHAN There’s a difference between being tolerant and tolerating intolerance, and there is no need to tolerate intolerance. So, can we separate an artist from their art? Yes, we do all the time. We have forever. Should we? I think we need to re-evaluate.

ROSS
And we’re in different times because of what’s happening in the White House. Things that were not tolerated or not acceptable have been lost, and I think there is a recalibration that needs to occur. It’s the reason it feels so frightening right now.

SHAW What’s the answer? How does it change?

MESSING I mean (turns to Ross), there was an episode of your show [Black-ish] that was shelved because it had to do with “Take a knee,” right?

Full Interview: The Hollywood Reporter

VIDEO LINK:

Press/Video/Photos: The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable

Rachel is featured in The Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actress Roundtable. You can watch her segment below, and you can also see her in Drew Barrymore’s segment here. The full Comedy Actress Roundtable airs on Sundance TV July 1.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Press: Rachel Brosnahan Shares Video of Her Aunt Kate Spade

A lot of you have already heard that Kate Spade, Rachel’s aunt, died yesterday from an apparent suicide. I have been a big fan of Kate Spade and her brand for some time. I was very saddened to hear of her passing, especially the way she passed.

As someone who suffers with mental illness, and has had a close family member take their own life, I know how bad things can get. If you are suffering from depression please know you are not alone. You are not a burden. You have people who care about you. Reach out. I know that is easier said than done. If you need someone to talk to you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) 24 hours a day, and if you are uncomfortable talking on the phone they have an online chat available.

I was reluctant to post about the news here, as I felt I wanted to give Rachel and her family as much privacy as I could at this time. However, she has made a public statement, and shared a sweet video about her aunt’s passing. It is with a heavy heart that I share Rachel’s post.

Photos: PaleyFest & Magazine Scans

I added scans from the May issue of Good Housekeeping & Issue #23 of Darling to the gallery. I also added new photos of Rachel at PaleyFest. Check out the links below.

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Press: Rachel Brosnahan on Why ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Is ‘Still Very Relevant Today’


Rachel recently sat down with Variety to discuss her show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Read the article below.

Like the character she plays on Amazon’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Rachel Brosnahan has proved herself to have hidden talents. Previously known for her dramatic work on series like “House of Cards” and “Manhattan,” Brosnahan is showing off a deft gift for comedy as the ’50s-era housewife-turned-standup. That’s what earned her a Golden Globe trophy as best actress in a comedy for the first season (as well as a series prize), and made her a frontrunner in the Emmy race.

During a break in production on season two, she talks with Variety about why a period piece is relevant today, being told she “wasn’t funny” — and the surprising injury she sustained on set.

For a show that’s set in the 50s, it feels so relevant now. What is it about that showrunners Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino are doing that makes the show feel so timely?

I think that the scenes surrounding some of the battles that women faced then are still very relevant today. And then women being considered secondary citizens or this idea of women not being funny or having to fit a certain mold and apologize for their ambitions. Those are all things that women still face today and I think that those ideas have never not been relevant and Amy and Dan have managed to bring them to life with a fresh eye. But also, the story at its core is about a woman finding the voice that she didn’t know she had. And that’s also something that’s happening all over the country and all over the world, right now.

I was just reading an interview where you were saying that you were once told that you weren’t funny. 

This is gonna be the thing that ends up on my tombstone, “Was once told, not funny.”

Thank you, Internet.

I don’t know how to say this in a way that totally makes sense, but it became something that was just understood. When you’re really young and you’re figuring out who you are and what your strengths are, the feedback that was given regarding my auditions, enough times, was kind of “She’s just not funny. Not really for sitcoms.” And so I guess I mostly stopped going into that stuff and focused on other strengths. And so when the show came across my desk, I was very nervous about the idea of even approaching comedy. Because I felt like that was something that I’d internalized, but not in a negative way. But now I’m kicking myself for limiting myself in that way earlier. Because this has been such a fulfilling, learning process and an important one.

I do think it took someone visionary to look at you and your body of work and be like, “Yes, she’s perfect for this and yes, she can do this.” Do you feel that?

I don’t know what they were thinking. But, yes, it was a leap for sure and one that I’m eternally grateful that all the powers involved took.

Are there things you didn’t get to do in the first season that you want to do in the second?

Something I’m looking forward to exploring more in the second season is the tension between Midge’s three very distinct and different worlds. She’s a mother and a daughter and a, possibly, wife/ex-wife, as it left off in the first season. She’s a working woman now. She has a job that she loves and she’s also a budding stand-up and none of those worlds really gel together. Though I’m looking forward to watching her try to balance and I think that the more invested she becomes in each of the three, particularly the work and the stand-up, the harder that juggling will become. I’m looking forward to seeing how that unfolds.

What have you learned from the experience of making the first season?

I feel like I learned to be braver in the first season than maybe I’ve ever felt. Midge is an extremely empowered and confident and pretty fearless woman and finding that on a daily basis is not always easy. And I feel like, hopefully, I’ve absorbed some of those things myself, moving into season two. There’s both less and more pressure going into season two, right? We know what it is, we’re so grateful that people responded to the show but also now we want to make sure that this season’s even better than the last one.

Do you feel that pressure?

A little bit, but it’s motivating. It’s a nice kind of pressure. The pressure that only comes from feeling that people responded to the art that we’re putting out into the world. And though we don’t want to let them down, but we also don’t wanna let ourselves down and I feel good about what we’ve done so far and we’re excited to keep pushing those boundaries.

Now that the showrunners have seen what you can do, is more coming?

I’m sure it’s going to get more challenging in ways that I couldn’t possibly imagine, in some of the weirdest ways. I’ve already sustained an injury from an unexpected stunt.

What happened?

Well, I can’t say much without giving everything away but it involved a rolling chair and some choreography. Took a little tumble, so I’m learning new skills. Again without giving anything away, we finished last season and I got this text from Amy going “Can you ride a bike?” And heard that [co-star] Marin [Hinkle] got a text from Amy going, “Can you speak French?” So they’re definitely going to keep challenging us in season two. I’m thinking they just like to watch us suffer a little bit.

You just mentioned you were just at a costume fitting. How much does that inform the show? Does that help you get into character?

Enormously. But the ability to transform so completely with costumes and hair and makeup makes my job easier. There’s less pretending involved. I can look in the mirror and see someone very different from myself and those are my favorite kind of characters, the ones that feel furthest from me. Midge’s outward appearance is very important to her and I think that it’s something the attention paid to her appearance and the way she is presenting herself to the world is part of what makes her feel empowered. So the costumes are huge and Donna Zakowska, our costume designer, is absolutely brilliant and her attention to detail continues to astound me. The creations and the places that she looks for inspiration, I’m blown away every time I step foot in the new fittings.

The awards consideration, the fact that you’re getting all this buzz, what does all that mean to you?

It’s such a lovely feeling to know that everybody’s hard work and literal blood, sweat and tears has been recognized. The awards stuff is great but actually feels less important than the fact that it feels like the show has touched such a wide variety of people. That’s what makes us feel the best. And awards stuff is great because it means that, hopefully, we get to keep going. That we get to have a job for a little bit longer and a job we love, at that. And it’s obviously an honor but the coolest part has been to hear from young women, especially, but also older men who couldn’t say that they were essentially coerced into watching the show by their wives or daughters and have fallen in love with it, as well. It’s nice to know that people love it as much as we do. That feels like the greatest reward.

Are you recognized more because of this role?

In New York, that’s not as much of a thing as it is in say, Los Angeles, so if people are recognizing me, I may not always know it. But I also look very different in my real life when I’m walking the dog up in Harlem, you know? So it’s not been something that feels like an enormous shift. The question I keep getting asked is, “How has your life changed?” And it feels like that’s a funny question because at the core, I feel like it hasn’t. But strangers can say my last name now, which has been very exciting. That’s never happened to me before.

Is there a moment you’re proudest of when you look back over the first season?

There’s a set in episode seven. It’s been fondly referred to as the epic take-down of Sophie Lennon and that set, in discussions with Amy and Dan was kind of being talked about as a place where Midge really comes into her own as a comedian. Really is able to combine her impulsiveness and her stream of consciousness style with a more polished understanding of what it means to, say, interact with an audience or to have certain pieces prepared and then she naturally goes off the rails. But i was the first time where I noticed I felt more comfortable stepping onto the stage and I was able to kind of clock how much I had learned about the more technical side of doing this form of comedy. I remember looking out at the audience and feeling, so distinctly, like we were in it together and it was the first time I really went into one feeling like it was gonna be okay. It was a place where I really felt that parallel journey between Midge and myself. And it was a very cool moment.

Is there one moment where you feel like you really owned this, that the part really became you?

No. But I think if I ever really reach that point, I’m not working hard enough.

Source: Variety

Press: Kristen Bell, Frankie Shaw, Rachel Brosnahan Embrace Complicated TV Roles

Rachel was featured in a new Variety article. Below is an excerpt of her part.

“People are inspired by a woman finding her voice…”
Rachel Brosnahan

Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge Maisel, the centerpiece of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” is perhaps the most upbeat progressive fighter on television. Even if the aspirational stand-up comic is battling to make it in the intensely conservative Eisenhower era.

“A woman breaking into comedy in the 1950s was about the biggest way to give the middle finger to any kind of gender norm or expectation, I think,” Brosnahan says. “Maybe not the biggest, but certainly one of them. She’s starting to notice a lot of gender disparity. She’s starting to become aware of some of the unrealistic expectations that are placed on women, or and were placed on women, and some of the hypocrisy in the expectations surrounding men and women and their roles in society.”

A Golden Globe winner in January, Brosnahan has discovered that, for many, in this #MeToo era, Midge’s journey been something of an inspiration.

“I think one of the things that I’m hearing a lot is that people are inspired by a woman finding her voice anew, finding a voice that she didn’t know she had, at a point in her life where she felt like she had already established who she was and what she wanted and set a goal for herself and reached it,” Brosnahan says. “Everything fell apart and she rose from the ashes and found a new passion, and a new path. Something that is largely right now a part of the national conversation as well. It’s taken on new meaning since after we created the show.”

Read the full article here.

Press: Rachel Brosnahan infuses her ‘Mrs. Maisel’ with fearlessness, even when it’s misguided

Rachel Brosnahan, the Golden Globe-winning lead actress of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” has a good strategy when it comes to judging her own work, and it’s maybe not that unique but somehow Brosnahan’s naturally self-deprecating demeanor makes it sound refreshingly blunt.

“I don’t think you ever know that something works until you’ve seen it cut together. Personally, I’m not sure I ever leave a scene being like, ‘Nailed it.’ That’s just not really how I go,” Brosnahan says. “I mostly leave scenes like, ‘I’ve ended my whole career. I’ll never work again.’”

That perspective makes a lot of sense since the 27-year-old considered herself strictly a dramatic actress, having appeared in films such as “Beautiful Creatures” and a memorable, Emmy-nominated run on Netflix’s “House of Cards,” before landing the role in Amazon Prime’s breakout comedy program.

“One of the things that people say all the time, that working on a film set is a lot of hurry up and wait … we don’t do so much of that on this show,” the actress says while on a break early this spring at the London West Hollywood. “We really just go. We go and go and go, and so it helps keep up the pace and the energy of the show on-screen too. We talk faster than most people talk. To fill an hour of television, there are about 15 more pages of dialogue.”

In Amy Sherman-Palladino’s critically acclaimed series, Brosnahan plays Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a seemingly content late-1950s New York City housewife who, much to the dismay of her philandering husband (Michael Zegen) and parents (Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle), discovers she has an unexpected talent for stand-up comedy.

Her exploration of this gift inevitably leads to a series of career ups and downs. One memorable scene finds Brosnahan impressively depicting a terribly botched set thanks to the stomach-churning horror of Midge’s cockiness and her decision to ignore the advice of her manager (Alex Borstein).

“I’ve got no experience with stand-up at all, and fortunately, that’s a parallel journey with Midge,” Brosnahan says. “Maybe she starts out as a funnier woman than I am naturally, but Midge is not a comedian when you meet her, and so the time she bombs, she’s still not a stand-up. And that’s why she bombs. She hasn’t practiced. She doesn’t have a set. She’s just talking.”

Because the stand-up scenes were so important to the show, they were purposely filmed at the beginning of each episode’s production cycle. This one in particular began filming at 6 a.m. and Brosnahan notes she needed a little bit of help to calm her nerves.

“It was not the greatest idea I ever had, but you know when you’re really drunk and you can taste alcohol in your mouth, even when you’re not drinking? I was taking just teeny, teeny, tiny sips of wine out of a cup while we were shooting. I mean teeny sips, just to get that taste in my mouth,” she recalls. “But after enough takes and enough teeny sips, I was like — I was not even close to drunk, not buzzed, either, just to clarify — more like, ‘Bleh, it was too early to start drinking wine.’”

“All I remember is Alex Borstein going, ‘Don’t … it up,’ but I’m pretty sure she said that before every stand-up scene, so I’m not sure that one was unique.”
– Rachel Brosnahan

She adds, “All I remember is Alex Borstein going, ‘Don’t … it up,’ but I’m pretty sure she said that before every stand-up scene, so I’m not sure that one was unique.”

Consequently, one of the most compelling aspects of Midge’s character is how Sherman-Palladino and Brosnahan have crafted her fearlessness. While those around her question her choices, for the most part, she moves forward with a fearlessness that is wonderfully self-assured.

“Some of that comes from a naive place, some of that comes from a sheltered and privileged place, and some of that’s something you’re born with,” Brosnahan says. “She’s not a passive player, but she is reacting to all kinds of new stimulus, to ideas and people and places and things that she doesn’t understand, and that’s what fuels her stand-up.”

There were many women forging their own path during this period, but few in comedy and few from the picture-perfect world Midge’s family has crafted in upper-middle-class Manhattan.

“You didn’t see women being autonomous, or outwardly ambitious, openly ambitious,” she notes. “That wasn’t socially acceptable, and that’s maybe her biggest act of resistance.”

Source: LA Times

Press: WBEZ 91.5 Chicago Radio Interview

Rachel recently sat down for the WBZE 91.5 radio show WTF with Marc Maron to discuss her acting career, and what it’s been like playing a stand up comic on the Amazon hit show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.


(Click the bar on the left to start if you do not see a play icon.)

Rachel Brosnahan related to the pressures and insecurities of standup comics when she got the lead role of a 1950s standup in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. That’s because she feels constant dread as an actor, going from project to project, always worried it’s not going to go well. Rachel compares notes with Marc about being a standup vs. being an actor, learning the craft in school vs. learning on the job, and why working on episodic television may be the best training for actors.

Source: WBEZ

Press: Rachel Brosnahan and Other Stars Take Aim at TV’s Patriarchy: ‘There’s No Going Back’

It’s a different day for Hollywood, and for our culture. From the time allegations of sexual misbehavior rained down on mogul Harvey Weinstein last October, this business and many others have been rocked by revelations and allegations, and by a sense that the time is long overdue to afford women equal respect and equal opportunities rather than treating them.

In this climate — with hashtags like #MeToo and organizations like Time’s Up working to affect real change — TheWrap convened seven television actresses to discuss what they’ve experienced in their careers, what they’ve seen in the last nine months and where they’d like things to go from here.

TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman and Beatrice Verhoeven asked the questions; Zazie Beetz from “Atlanta,” Alison Brie from “GLOW,” Rachel Brosnahan from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Claire Foy from “The Crown,” Gina Rodriguez from “Jane the Virgin,” Yara Shahidi from “black-ish” and “grown-ish” and Evan Rachel Wood from “Westworld” answered them.

Read more at The Wrap

Photos: The Wrap Magazine Scans

Rachel is featured in the May 25th Power Women of Television issue of The Wrap. I’ve added scans to the gallery. Thanks so much to Girl Jay for her donations.

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