“So many people ask about this,” says Michael Zegen, the actor who is Joel Maisel to Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.“ Amazon’s award-magnet comedy series is the reigning Emmy champ for comedy set in the late ’50s about an Upper West Side housewife who secretly does a stand-up act at night.
The “this” he is referring to is a scene that is found on Season 2’s 10th and final episode. No, it isn’t when a dejected Midge decides to sleep with her estranged husband one last time. Or when we see a flashback of their engagement that takes place in the middle of a busy Manhattan street. Instead, the sequence that got the show’s fans buzzing is a truly unique bit of sports-related choreography where he and fellow actor Joel Johnstone as his buddy work out their frustrations in a park in the middle of the night by throwing countless baseballs up in the air and batting them one by one without a miss while exchanging dialogue in between.
SEE Sterling K. Brown changes venues from ‘This Is Us’ to ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
“First of all, we actually did hit those baseballs,” reveals Zegen. “It wasn’t all CGI. I will say there was a little bit of CGI. When the camera is in front of us, we had to miss. We had to throw it up and miss the ball and then they painted it out afterwards. Obviously, we couldn’t hit the cameraman.”
The scene was doubly memorable in that the continuous take was also the last shot of the whole season. “We were on this baseball field in Harlem until 4 in the morning then that was it. Then we all toasted with champagne and got on planes the next day to go to the Emmys.” That trip would result in five Primetime Emmys including Best Comedy Series and three Creative Arts Emmys.
Zegen, 40, has had his share of recurring roles in high-profile series before such as “Rescue Me,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Walking Dead” and “Girls.” One of his first noteworthy appearances was as a party-goer on “The Sopranos” in 2004. “It was a tiny little part, but at the time, ‘The Sopranos’ was so huge and it was my favorite show and my parents’ favorite show, so it was really thrilling.”
But the actor was most grateful when he snagged an ongoing gig on the “Late Show With David Letterman” as surly Dwight the Troubled Teen, who appeared on more than 50 episodes. “I just thought it was a one-episode gig. It was weekly for the most part because Dave liked it. So they kept bringing me back. That was kind of fun. My situation at that time in New York was I didn’t have any money and I was able to eat, so that was nice.”
The show started filming Season 3 in April, with Midge going on a six-month tour as the opening act for a popular black singer named Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain). When asked if Joel will be saddled with the Maisel’s toddler son and baby daughter, Zegen admits, “Yeah. I was worried about that, too. These scenes with the kids are kind of difficult to shoot sometimes. I thought I might be in for some trouble.”
SEE Will ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s’ mom get her first career Emmy nomination
Even though he is sworn to secrecy about the third season, the actor did share some hint of what is actually in store for Mr. Maisel that is tied to something that Joel has revealed in the past. “My character talked about opening a club, something we are going to explore.” And Zegen vows, ”It’s so funny.”
The Big Apple resident also discusses that fans often ask why he is riding the subway, that he has never seen “Maisel” creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino‘s “Gilmore Girls,” why Season 2’s Catskills scenes were shot outside of Binghamton, N.Y., and that there is a substantial contingent of “Maisel” mavens who wish that Midge had wed surgeon Ben Ettenberg (Zachary Levi), her nearly second husband, instead of following her showbiz dreams.
PREDICT the Emmys now; change them until July 16
Be sure to make your 2019 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 nominations are announced on July 16. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.
SIGN UP for Gold Derby’s newsletter with experts’ latest predictions