Rachel Brosnahan (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’) on how Midge’s privilege ‘blinds her’ [Complete Interview Transcript]

Rachel Brosnahan just scored her third consecutive Emmy nomination for playing standup comic Midge Maisel on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” She won in 2018 for the show’s first season.

Brosnahan recently spoke with Gold Derby senior editor Susan Wloszczyna about how much Midge has rubbed off on her, her dynamics with various characters on the show and what might be in the works for Season 4 of “Maisel.” Watch the exclusive interview above and read the complete transcript below.

Gold Derby: Rachel Brosnahan has won an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her starring role in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and the third season of the show just earned 20 Emmy nominations, equaling its record of 20 from last year. One of them went to you, Rachel. Congratulations on that.

Rachel Brosnahan: Thank you very much.

GD: I was thinking about you and Midge, and I know she’s not you, but I just wonder, playing such a vivid character who is so unique and specific in what she wants, needs and desires has it rubbed off on you at all? Have you changed a little bit because of her?

RB: I think I maybe talk a little faster in my real life after I spent a few years playing Midge. But I really admire her confidence. I admire how willing she is to leap into a brand new situation. She doesn’t know how to do anything at less than 150 and I’ve definitely tried to borrow a little piece of that into my own life, for sure.

GD: Well, when I watched the first episode of the season, I just was blown away. But to be there on that stage in the hangar with all those hundreds of guys. I mean, oh, my God. What did it feel like?

RB: It was crazy. I felt like Bono. In theater, you might have an audience of that many people, but you don’t get to acknowledge them or they’re not responding to you in the same way. They’re there to view a performance and there’s that fourth wall. This was nuts. Unlike any experience I’ve ever had and those actors were incredible. You could feel how excited they were to be there. They gave it. It was hot. They were in very close quarters. They gave it for hour after hour after hour. Leroy McClain and I, who plays Shy Baldwin, I just remember us looking at each other going, “This is so insane. This is a day, this is a moment I will never, ever forget.”

GD: I still take great pleasure in your buddyship with Alex Borstein as your manager because the whole second season with that plunger, I was just like, “How does she do that?” I mean, it’s just a little thing but she made a very unique tool to her performance.

RB: Comedy is just in her bones. She can make something that wouldn’t be funny to anyone else on paper so funny that the whole crew is trying to stifle laughter while she’s shooting it. She’s a monstrosity of a talent.

GD: Well, this season, I think I laughed the hardest when you were teaching her how to swim doggy paddle and when you held her up by her suspenders, I was just losing it. It was just great. Did you know each other all before you started acting together?

RB: No. We had a chemistry read early on in the process. I think I had already been cast and Alex and I read once together and we had this immediate and very strange chemistry that I think works so well for Susie and Midge. We are so different but love each other very, very much. I have so much respect for Alex as a person, as an actor, as a mother. I’m so in awe of the way that she moves through the world and it makes absolutely no sense and yet it works completely on and off-camera.

GD: Well, I think you guys are right up there with Lucy and Ethel, Mary and Rhoda and even Laverne and Shirley.

RB: That’s the highest compliment we could hope to receive. Thank you.

GD: Well, I do want to ask you about something that Alex said in an interview this week in “The L.A. Times.” I don’t know if you saw it, but they were asking her about how many times people ask whether Susie is gay and she replied, basically, she thinks her character is absolutely in love with Midge to some degree, but instead of saying she was gay she just said, “I think she falls in love with minds.” So that was an interesting conclusion. But have you thought about who exactly Susie is in her life? It’s kind of weird when, like at the USO show, she’s mistaken for a man and things like that. But it seems like, Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino] want to not focus on that. Just let Susie be Susie. So I don’t know how you take it.

RB: Yeah. I mean, it’s never been something that’s been explicitly addressed on the show. So I think really, whatever that is to Susie is for Amy and Dan to know and for Alex to know. So it’s not really something that we’ve talked about or something that I feel particularly entitled to have an opinion on. I think all I can really go off of is what the show tells us about Susie. But we’ve definitely talked a lot about the relationship between Midge and Susie and how much their relationship has evolved over the last couple of seasons. Alex early on lovingly dubbed their relationship a “womance” and that feels would be true to me. But it’s also deepening. You know, they need each other. And by the end of Season 3, a difficult lesson that they’ve both learned in different ways is that they are each the only person that they can trust in this moment, in this business. They have a very intimate relationship, definitely. They’ve seen the ugliest sides of each other and not many other people in either of their lives have seen that. So I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship continues to develop and how we learn more about Susie moving forward.

GD: Well, your Emmy submission was “A Jewish Girl Walks Into the Apollo.” That episode just drained me. Because you’re worried the whole time and there’s little hints that things are not going well, but it all comes to fruition in a weirdly bad way. But, I got to talk to Wanda Sykes about being Moms Mabley.

RB: She’s amazing.

GD: It’s almost like Midge is a little too full of herself by that point. I think she doesn’t realize she should be paying homage to this woman rather than talking a mile a minute if she’s going to meet her.

RB: I think that’s her way. I mean, I think Midge is a genuine, huge fan of Moms Mabley. But her privilege certainly blinds her to the very complicated dynamics at play. Someone like Moms Mabley shouldn’t be opening or before someone like Midge in this world. That’s absurd. And I’m not sure that Midge really clocked that until her conversation with Moms.

GD: Well, I was thinking she kind of put a little hex on you in a way because things started going further downhill for you guys. It was almost like she said, “OK. Yeah. Yeah, girl. You’ll see.”

RB: She knew. She knew it was a tough crowd that Midge was going to be facing, for sure.

GD: But I think my favorite episode, though, was “It’s Comedy or Cabbage.” And that’s because of Luke Kirby and you together, because that was just beautiful. But I did talk to him and I asked him, “OK, you and Midge, people kind of were thinking maybe they would have a little interlude romantic,” but I asked him if he knew why maybe Midge turned him down and he just said to me, “I plead the fifth,” which is a cop-out. But I think you might have thought about it a little more. And I think I know. I mean, you already remarried your husband.

RB: Can’t keep track of how many times we’ve remarried and unmarried.

GD: Why do you think Midge would not go that far with him?

RB: Lenny is one of the few relationships in this new version of her life that means the most to her. I think she idolizes Lenny as a comic. I think she wants to be a comic like him and I think she feels the weight of the risk of putting that relationship in danger by changing what it is. Neither of them are really in a place in their lives, and they both acknowledge this, where they want to be in a relationship, and crossing that line, it could be great, but it could really screw things up. And I just think she doesn’t want to go there. She values the relationship as it is too much.

GD: Well, I’m sure you’re missing Midge by this time because you would have been filming around this time. But I just wonder if you know if Amy and Dan are working on a fourth season yet.

RB: Yes. My understanding is that they have done a lot of thinking and they’re about to start very seriously writing the fourth season. So they’re working away while we’re unfortunately not able to shoot right now.

GD: So should I stop worrying about Midge’s work situation and Susie’s gambling habit and her sudden urge to commit arson? This is one of my favorite shows so I’m worrying about these people all the time.

RB: I think we have some reason to be worried about what’s going to happen as we head into Season 4. But I’m excited to see what Amy and Dan come up with.

GD: Have you kept any of the costumes or accessories in your life or you’re not like that?

RB: I mean, I would love to. I have one coat from the first season that I treasure. Most of that stuff though, I mean, I’m in a corset, I’m in a petticoat, I’m in the pantyhose. It’s a lot of work to wear those gorgeous, gorgeous clothes. So as much as some of them I look at and they feel like a visual feast, I don’t know that I would love to wear them in my real life. I’m a little more like this.

GD: Two of the costumes are at the Smithsonian, which is very cool.

RB: Which is so cool. That’s insane and well deserved by Donna Zakowska, our freaky genius costume designer. She’s amazing.

GD: Well, Season 3 was so much bigger and everything was more, more, more. So I think now you’re going to have to cut back a little bit.

RB: I think we’re going to get creative. I know that it’s really important to this entire creative team not to lose the spirit of the show and that feeling of the scope of the world. Technology is amazing. I feel like there may be some very creative solutions to help keep what makes our show so special alive. And I know that that’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind so I’m really curious to see what the smart people come up with.

GD: Well, congratulations on your Emmy and good luck there and they’re doing crazy things virtually. So who knows what…

RB: What are they doing?

GD: Well, I think they’re going to go to where people are, like if you ever watch any reality shows, they just individually, like “American Idol” and other shows have pulled that off.

RB: Interesting. I’m so curious (laughs).

GD: You’ll probably get a letter or an email at some point saying, “This is what you have to do.” But it won’t be bad. I mean, maybe you could dress like this probably in this room.

RB: I won’t need to wear pants. Well, unless someone shows up at my house, I thought I might not need to wear pants. I’m not sure anymore. I think it’ll be good. It’ll be nice for everyone to be able to celebrate and hopefully, we can find a way to make the audiences feel included in this moment in a way that maybe they don’t always get to be.

GD: It is a different experience, but they’ve been fine-tuning it with other shows like that, live shows. Hopefully, it’ll be fun for you still.

RB: I get to bring my dogs to the Emmys. I’m stoked.

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