It’s been more than five years since she made her debut as Midge, but Rachel Brosnahan remembers her first scene from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel like it was yesterday.
Brosnahan—who stars as Miriam “Midge” Maisel in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—is the cover star of StyleCaster’s February 2022 issue, the Love Is Funny issue. In honor of the issue, we asked Brosnahan to take a trip down memory lane and react to her very first scene from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel pilot, in which Midge performs an impromptu standup routine at her wedding. “Everyone looks so young!” Brosnahan said as she watched the scene.
In her cover story for StyleCaster’s Love Is Funny issue, Brosnahan, who had starred in shows like House of Cards and Manhattan before she was cast in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, revealed that she was often told she wasn’t funny enough for comedy before she played Midge, a 1960s housewife-turned-standup-comedian. “When someone is like, ‘You have a fair amount of skills, but this isn’t one of them. Maybe you should consider heading in a different direction,’ it becomes a part of the narrative you tell yourself,” she said.
Brosnahan also told StyleCaster about how her final audition for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in front of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was a complete disaster as she had been sick with “what felt like the plague” at the time and was nursing a fever. “I was so sweaty. My shoes were a slip-and-slide. I kept having to blot my face with a tissue. Amy stopped me at one point and asked me to powder myself,” she said. “But something magical happened in that room.” Brosnahan explained how her illness may have helped in her audition, where she performed Midge’s impromptu standup routine at the Gaslight Cafe hours after her husband left her from the pilot of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. “I was so sick I didn’t have the capacity to care what anyone else thought about what was happening,” Brosnahan said. “I didn’t have the energy to be self-conscious and I’m sure me and all my sloppiness were pretty much just the fuel and fire that scene needed.”
Brosnahan also teased season four of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which premieres on Amazon Prime Video on February 18, 2022, and sees Midge confront the aftermath of season three after she almost outs singer Shy Baldwin and is fired as his opening act. “I believe we all have the capacity to keep growing and changing and that only comes when we take missteps, fall down and figure out how to pick ourselves back up,” Brosnahan said. “That’s something Midge certainly is confronted with and handles in her very Midge way. When we meet her this season, she’s in the first stage of grief, which for her is fury and revenge. But I think, maybe for the first time, she comes to terms with the role she played in her own downfall. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. She watched her career ambitions fly away on that plane and she’s going to have to rebuild.”
She also discussed Midge’s privilege and what she’s learned about it as the opening act for a Black singer in the 1960s. “This experience of both going on tour with a Black man at that time and a closeted Black man no less was hugely eye-opening for her and quite, let’s be real, late in her life,” she said. “This is somebody who’d been shrouded in privilege, and I share that frustration with a lot of viewers that Midge’s progress isn’t linear and sometimes slower than you’d like it to be. But I appreciate that she shows it’s still possible to learn.”
Since the premiere of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in 2017, Brosnahan has won an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her role as Midge. When asked how she thinks The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will end, Brosnahan revealed what Palladino—who has also created shows like Gilmore Girls and Bunheads with her husband Dan Palladino—told her about what her plan for the end of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel looks like. “I’ve asked Amy 2,000 questions and one was, ‘Where do you see Midge ending up in the future?’” Brosnahan said. “This isn’t how the show ends, but for whatever it’s worth, what she said was she envisions Midge living in a penthouse apartment with 20 poodles one day. She’ll be wildly successful, but she’ll always look back on the day before Joel left her as the happiest day of her life.”