Rachel Brosnahan takes you behind the scenes of ‘Mrs. Maisel.’ Her guided photo tour
With her star-making turn in Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” playing a 1950s housewife-turned-stand-up comedian, Rachel Brosnahan had a lot to get acclimated to in taking on the first major comedic role in her young career. And learning how to tell jokes for minutes at a time, understandably, leaves few opportunities to take a step back and take it all in.
“I look back on the first season, and I was so overwhelmed and terrified all the time that I hardly took any pictures at all,” Brosnahan says on a recent weekday from her home in New York over Zoom. “I wish I had more to remember that beautiful nightmare.”
So she started taking more.
Alex Borstein relishes the craft of the character actor. She doesn’t have to carry ‘Mrs. Maisel’ or even be likable.
“There’s been so many moments working on the show for the last three years where — I overuse the word ‘surreal,’ but that’s how it feels all the time,” she said. “We’re moving at such a fast pace, the days are long and we’re pumping out 8, 9, 10 pages a day. I worry that I’m going to forget how insane and special and surreal this whole experience has been.”
Brosnahan, who is once again an Emmy nominee for lead actress in a comedy, now can be found more often snapping those behind-the-scenes moments, ever so slyly, with her trusty iPhone, which she recently upgraded.
“When we do eventually go back [into production], the shots will be fancier,” she teases. “Amy [Sherman-Palladino, the show’s creator], hates phones on sets, and I understand completely, but sometimes I can’t resist. I sneak a quick shot, and then I put it away.” (At times, others do the photo taking for her.)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan, creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and other key creatives break down the series’ dazzling stand-up act.
Here, Brosnahan offers up a selection of behind-the-scenes images captured during the shooting of Season 3, which sees her Midge embark on a nationwide tour as the opening act for famous crooner Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), and tells The Envelope about them.
“This was on stage at the Barrymore [Theatre in New York] after watching these guys shoot their side of “Miss Julie,’ [a play within the series]. God, they are so funny. One of the most complete photos. We rarely remember to take photos all together, so I am glad we took this one. Jane [Lynch] made me laugh out loud, and I was not supposed to be laughing all the time. She’s so talented. The three of them [Cary Elwes, Lauren Norvelle and Lynch] were so funny and striking that balance between performing badly on camera but performing badly so well. That was a treat to sit back and watch.”
“My smile is like threatening to jump off my face. I am such a huge, dorky fan of Wanda Sykes. And Moms Mabley. [Sykes portrayed Mabley in the season finale.] I studied Moms Mabley in preparation for this role, in addition to a number of other comedians from this time. We so often have experiences working on the show where we feel like we’ve walked onto the set and time-traveled. I’m not sure any of those experiences has been as vivid as watching Wanda do Moms Mabley from the wings at the Apollo. It was incredibly moving and hilarious and powerful and really emotional, for reasons I can’t describe. She’s just one of the greatest comedic talents paying homage to one of the greatest comedic talents. I think she did like two takes. She blew the whole room’s socks off the second she opened her mouth. My smile looks like it hurts.”
"I love this shot because it’s a true behind-the-scenes. You get to see so many people in action with this shot. This would have been coverage on either just me or Caroline and I, who were sitting next to each other at this dinner scene. This is the scene, I think, where Tony [Shalhoub] and Marin [Hinkle] are talking about their death plans. When they’re shooting our reactions to that, Tony and Marin are sort of snuggled together behind the light, leaning into the camera, getting as close as they can for our eye line. Jim McConkey, who you see, is our extraordinarily talented Steadicam operator. He’s the one that executes all the crazy oners [long, continuous shots] that the show has become known for. And we have our sound team here, Mathew Price and Carmine [Picarello] in the back. I love this shot in action. The bagels were delicious; they’re delicious the first time and then they are no longer delicious.”
“Alex [Borstein, who plays Midge’s agent, Susie] and I fell into this weird ‘Smidge’ pose sometime during the first season. I have no idea how this happened, but now the two of us take pictures in this exact same position, on the exact same side, looking out into space, any time we want to commemorate something. So here we are by a giant billboard that’s supposed to be in Vegas in Episode 3. In real life, it was in a parking lot. I can’t remember what happened, but we’d been trying to shoot the scene for a long time, and I think weather was an issue and scheduling became a problem, and it took a really long time before we finally got this shot. And this billboard was pretty special in person; it’s a real moment, obviously, for Midge and Susie to see Mrs. Maisel’s name next to Shy Baldwin’s in lights for the first time. It was a moment for us too. Again, just one of those wild moments that reminds us that we’re a part of something that none of us really ever thought we would be. It’s unlike anything else. It literally stopped us in our tracks.
“I guess the first time I saw my name like this was in Times Square. A friend and I were walking by, and there was this enormous billboard that was the length of a city bus and had my face on it. It was before the first season aired. We were in shock. We stopped in the middle of the street and like looked around and looked at it. My friend wanted me to pose so she could take pictures of me with it in the background, and I was like, no, I look terrible! And she was like, ‘I’m going to be your mom right now. Pose! You’ll be so glad you have these in 15 years.’ And I am glad that I have them.”
“This is us taking over 19th Street [in Manhattan] to re-create the Garment District shot that Michael Zegan [who plays her ex-husband, Joel] did in Season 1, where he heads into the garment factory. I love this shot because it’s never not incredibly special to be shooting in the middle of the city. I live in New York, and it’s moments like this where it feels like the show is a love letter to the city. There’s always some grumpy commuter deliberately walking through the back of the shot trying to ruin it — ah, New York.
“This is fun because this is us rehearsing, and in the brown building on the left, or right next to it, there was a class of design students or something, and they were all sticking their heads out of the window, waving and saying hello.”
“I forget who took this picture, but we shot in the Barrymore in Times Square. And someone got this capture of me sitting alone in the theater. Something about it reminds me — I feel like I am gushing, but it’s true — it reminds me how I feel all the time on this show. Not alone! But that I’m wide-eyed and sitting in the center of this magical thing that’s happening all around me. And sitting in the Barrymore was one of those moments. I felt like whoever nabbed this picture really captured that. You can see it in my face. I am having a moment of disbelief. And shortly after this, we shot at the Apollo, which was another moment like that. I didn’t perform on the stage at the Barrymore, but even just to walk around it — I come from theater, and it has such a rich history. I can’t believe they let us inside.”
From the Emmys to the Oscars.
Get our revamped Envelope newsletter, sent twice a week, for exclusive awards season coverage, behind-the-scenes insights and columnist Glenn Whipp’s commentary.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.