Michael Zegen Interview: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
“We’ve really kind of hit our stride,” says Michael Zegen of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Season 3. He plays Joel Maisel in Amazon’s period comedy, and the newest season moves the character’s life into exciting new directions. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Zegen looks forward to the challenge of each new script, admitting that he is constantly learning “who Joel really is. I find out little bits and pieces from episode to episode.” While the character may have started out as somewhat of an antagonist in the beginning of the series, creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino have charted a sympathetic path to redemption for Joel. Zegen acknowledges that this was probably always part of their plan, “that he was going to be this three dimensional character, rather than this one note villain.”
Of course, lingering regret about cheating on ex-wife Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) still impacts his every action. “I think this guilt will stay with him forever,” suggests Zegen. In Season 3, these feelings manifest as Joel becomes increasingly involved in the marriage troubles of his best friend Archie (Joel Johnstone).
Multiple failed attempts to intervene with Archie lead to friction in the pair of friends. It comes to a boiling point when the duo erupt in a public brawl in a bar. It’s a tense moment for the characters, but the actor had a blast shooting the sequence. “There were a few injuries involved,” jokes the actor. “I knocked knees with Joel Johnstone a few times. I could barely walk for a few days.” But seeing the thrilling finished project was worth the pain. Upon realizing that Joel has fought someone in each season of “Maisel, Zegen adds: “He likes to solve problems with his fists.”
Joel’s romantic life also provides exciting scenes for the actor to dig his teeth into. Though he is constantly asked whether Midge and Joel will ever get back together, he admits “I don’t know if it’s ever going to work with Midge.” Instead he believes that “it’s time for both of them to branch out on their own.”
A new opportunity to branch out arrives courtesy of the new night club Joel opens in Chinatown. This business venture leads him to meet Mei (Stephanie Hsu), and the pair strike up an unlikely relationship. “I feel like he’s self-sabotaged every relationship he’s been in,” says Zegen of Joel’s history. And this new romance is certainly not devoid of arguments. But this pairing feels unexpected and the actor enjoys the possibilities of expanding Joel’s life beyond the scope of Midge. “I think he’s ready for something,” reveals Zegen.