Rachel Brosnahan, star of the new Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” woke up to learning she was among the nominees for this year’s Golden Globes.
Below, she talks about series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, the importance of women’s voices on TV, and her fear of freaking out Issa Rae of “Insecure” on awards night.
How’s your morning?
I’m in New York, I’m currently walking my dog and tying my shoe.
How did you find out?
I was asleep. I think I might still be asleep. My dog woke me up. My dog made a noise and I habitually picked up my phone and had lots of well wishes, which was very exciting.
The show just came out, were you surprised to be embraced so quickly?
I’m thrilled and surprised and so honored that the show’s gotten this recognition so fast. We’re in incredible company and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Is there anyone you’re excited to be in a room with?
You should see my face right now. Issa Rae is a hero of mine and I’m going to try not to completely creep her out. I love “Insecure.”
It’s one of my favorite shows on right now and I love how smart and capable specifically the two main characters are but, as any woman in their 20s can relate to, they’re struggling to get it together despite how amazing they are. I love the friendship between Issa and Molly so much. You don’t often see true depictions of a female friendship on TV that way, and I need to see Season 3 already.
Your show is about a friendship of sorts.
It’s a blossoming friendship. They’re still in denial about it — or at least Susie [Alex Borstein] is.
I’m not sure they have much in common and I think that’s what’s exciting about it. I’m used to one-dimensional female friendships. It’s become a kind of trope. That’s what’s so exciting to me about it. They feel completely different from one another. Susie and Midge’s [relationship] is at completely different time but the friendship between Issa and Molly is one that I totally recognize. One where you can cuss each other out and tell each other that you hate each other and show up at their door the next day and drink wine and move through it. It’s complicated and it’s flawed and it’s beautiful.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is about this very specific scene and very specific time period in New York. Why do you think modern viewers are embracing it?
First of all it’s a fun show, and the world is on fire and it’s nice to escape for a little bit. But additionally I don’t think there are many women like Midge on TV, and there should be more.
I think a lot of the women in this category represent that — different kinds of women and different kinds of stories, and there are still so many more that need to be told. I hope that the success of this show and shows like “Insecure” and “SMILF” encourage people to make more content like this and tell more women’s stories.
And it’s about women in comedy, which is something we’re still having conversations about in 2017.
I would argue that our show hasn’t quite reached the conversation on a deeper level about women in comedy. At this point it’s still about this woman whose life has fallen apart, struggling to reinvent herself and find her voice. As we move forward we’ll get more into the conversation about what it means to be a woman in comedy.
There’s this repeated idea that people ask if Susie and Midge can sing because you’re not valuable unless you have other skills, because women can’t just be funny. Jane Lynch’s character [Sophie] says to her, you want them to laugh at you, not want to … you. You need to be a character, or you need to have a [penis].
I think that’s also frustrating for Midge. That’s been Sophie’s experience of the world up to that point. Midge defying that is valid, but Sophie’s feeling that is also in response to her own experience.
Amy Sherman-Palladino’s dialogue is known for being really fast. Were there any lines that gave you particular trouble or kept you up at night?
Yes, there were quite a few I think I still remember. The one that I had a lot of trouble with, I think it’s in Episode 2 where she says, “I could be a cool chick with a doorman and a Kelvinator Foodarama refrigerator, can’t I?”
Also there’s one later on where Midge and Imogene are packing goodie bags for her son’s birthday and she says something like, “You’re putting the tiny Tina baby carriages in the boys’ bag.” I could not get that one out of my mouth. There is so much B-roll of my saying “the Tina Turner baby carriages.”
I also yelled at Amy at one point for naming my children Ethan and Esther. Trying saying “Ethan and Esther” five times fast.
So how do you prepare for that? Do you just say “rubber baby buggy bumpers” over and over?
I actually do. I do a full Shakespearean mouth warm-up and just vats of coffee. It’s really all of that, all those tongue-twisters — red leather yellow leather, unique New York unique New York. Or just saying the lines on repeat.
The reason I can say them is because I spent so much time rehearsing them. [Really, really fast] “You’re putting the tiny Tina carriages in the boy’s bag. You’re putting the tiny Tina carriages in the boy’s bag.” Just to try to get it out of my face.
So when do you go back to work?
We have a Season 2. I don’t know exactly when we’ll start, but I’ve been hearing rumors of sometime in the spring.
What are you up to until then?
Currently I’m at the dog park. Holidays coming up, so I am going to go see some family. I have a project or two swirling I may be able to squeeze in before we start again. But it’s up in the air in a lovely way.
Have you seen any of the nominated movies or shows?
No, I’m so behind. I don’t have a TV and I’ve been trying, I’m excited to see all of these projects, all of these movies, now that I’m back and all of the screeners are coming. I’ve been trying to put the technology down a little bit.
“Lady Bird” is top of my list. I can’t wait to see “I, Tonya.” It looks amazing. I saw “The Big Sick,” that was one of my favorite movies this year.
So before Midge, did people recognize you as Rachel from “House of Cards,” and do you feel like Midge is erasing that?
That’s probably the one I get recognized from the most. But it’s only when I look like death and I’m leaving the gym or have gone to the dog park with pink zit cream on my face. I don’t know what that says.
I think one of the things I enjoy about acting is the transformation and part of that is certainly the physical transformation. If people are confused forever, wondering where they have seen me before, that feels like exactly where I want to live. It feels like something’s working.
How does it feel going into an awards season at a time when the industry is going through a serious reckoning about the treatment of women?
As somebody who’s never really previously been involved in the awards scene generally, I’m curious what that will feel like in person.
I’m hoping… it feels like we’re on the cusp of a major shift in this industry. I think shows like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” are one part of a very multifaceted solution to this problem. This is a show that is written, produced, directed, created by an extraordinary woman, and produced by an extraordinary man [Daniel Palladino] who loves extraordinary women, about an extraordinary woman at a time when women weren’t encouraged to be extraordinary.
This is a show that lifts women up, that highlights some of our battles and employs us behind and in front of the camera. Amazon gave and continues to give the money to make this production great, and so I hope that the success of shows like this is part of this new frontier in Hollywood.
There are so many other women’s stories out there that need to be told and I hope we recognize that as the way to move forward.