“He seems to be in his comfort zone,” Michael Zegen says of his character Joel Maisel for the fourth season of Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The new episodes pick up with Joel’s new night club in Chinatown booming, which is a change of pace for the character. “I don’t think he’s been content for a while,” Zegen shares, adding that he enjoys playing this “ever-evolving character.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
The fourth season continues to explore the relationship between Joel and his new girlfriend Mei (Stephanie Hsu). “He’s obviously attracted to the same type of woman, these strong, funny,” no-nonsense kind of women, Zegen notes, comparing Mei to Joel’s ex-wife Midge (Rachel Brosnahan). He observes that Joel seems to be “constantly repeating the same patterns,” as we learn in the second half of the season that Mei is pregnant, which leaves Joel “stuck again” just like he was in his marriage to Midge years ago.
Joel finds himself embroiled in Midge’s money problems in Season 4, so Zegen had the opportunity to play more scenes opposite Alex Borstein as Midge’s business manager Susie. “They both have that one common denominator which is Midge and their love for Midge,” Zegen says, adding that he think the two characters are “more similar than not. They have a similar sense of humor, that sarcasm.” He also relishes the opportunity to work closely with Borstein, who he describes as “a dream” and “one of the funniest people I know.”
Speaking of joys to work with, Zegen also gets ample screen time opposite his television parents, played by Caroline Aaron and Kevin Pollak. Zegen has been a longtime fan of Pollak in particular, sharing, “I watched ‘Usual Suspects’ every day when I was in high school.” He talks about the camaraderie of the entire cast off screen, saying, “I love coming to set and seeing these people,” especially since they “know how precious this show is and show’s like this don’t come around very often.”
Zegen had to remain secretive about the upcoming fifth and final season, which is currently in production. In addition to exploring the “mystery” of Joel’s girlfriend Mei in the new episodes, the last season will also see Midge making “some headway” in her career after this fourth season focused on her “regrouping” after being fired from Shy Baldwin’s (LeRoy McClain) tour. Zegen shares, “I don’t think it’s really hit yet” that the series will end so soon.
In the fall, Zegen appeared on stage in New York in the first Broadway production of Alice Childress’ 1955 play “Trouble in Mind,” which just this week earned four Tony Award nominations including one for Best Revival. Zegen celebrated the news, sharing, “I couldn’t be happier for our cast and our play and our director Charles Randolph-Wright.” Zegen notes how “relevant” the show is today, since it explores Black underrepresentation in the theatre. He also reveals that a film adaptation of the play is in the works: “We’re talking about doing a movie version separate from the play […] We have the rights to it.”
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