Tony Shalhoub Interview: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
“It’s both daunting and kind of exhilarating at the same time,” confesses Tony Shalhoub of the challenges thrown at his character on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” After winning the Best Comedy Supporting Actor Emmy this past year for playing Abe Weissman, he now returns as a nominee yet again for Abe’s most complex season yet. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
While every actor hopes their show runs for many years, Shalhoub thinks that one of the pitfalls is that “often you get squeezed into a limited range.” This can be especially true for comedies, which all too often lock players into the same set of circumstances in order to keep the jokes fast and familiar. Shalhoub says as an actor, that can make you “start to feel a little painted into a corner… but with Amy and Dan it just doesn’t work like that.”
He refers of course, to writer/directors Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. In Season 3 they throw Abe several curveballs, notably the loss of his job and apartment. Shalhoub’s Emmy submission, “Marvelous Radio,” depicts Abe charting a new and unexpected course in life as a rebel writer. “It’s a little daunting,” Shalhoub admits of his character’s many upheavals. But he is ultimately pleased with the new avenues the role allows him to explore.
Part of the thrill of pushing Abe in new directions comes from how he sees the world around him. “He lives in the world of his mind,” suggests Shalhoub, “It’s all high stakes for him.” Since witnessing the life of his daughter Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) fall apart after her divorce he carries the fear that “everything has the potential to go south in a big way.”
So there’s always a big reaction to be had from Abe. He is wildly uncomfortably when forced to move in with Moishe (Kevin Pollack) and Shirley (Caroline Aaron). He boasts about being published in the New York Times to the point of forcing the paper on the attendees of his grandson’s bris. “He’s not a casual, complacent guy,” says Shalhoub with a smirk. “It’s never smooth sailing for Abe.” The new highs and lows of the character provided plenty of fun for the actor because everyday on set was a fresh, exciting challenge.
Shalhoub has won four Emmys out of 11 career nominations. He has three Best Comedy Actor wins for “Monk” and the one for “Maisel” last year. He has also won a Tony Award for “The Band’s Visit,” with additional nominations for “Conversations With my Father,” “Golden Boy,” and “Act One.”