We’re used to seeing Rachel Brosnahan in dark, dramatic roles, like the doomed call girl Rachel Posner in "House of Cards." But as Miriam "Midge" Maisel in Amazon’s bright and breezy "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," she’s tackling comedy head-on.
“It’s been a very cool transition,” Brosnahan told ABC News Thursday at the 2017 Stonestreet Granite Awards in New York City. “It’s a dream I didn’t know I had.”
Midge is a fast-talking 1950s housewife whose seemingly perfect Upper West Side life gets turned upside down when her aspiring stand-up comic husband announces he’s leaving her.
But Midge has the last laugh, literally. Turns out she’s the one with the comedy chops.
Brosnahan, 26, looked toward a host of female comedians of that era for inspiration, including Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers. But the comedy scene back then was largely a boys' club, which Brosnahan says will be addressed in the second half of the first season.
The show, which airs on Amazon Prime, has already been picked up for a second season.
“This is the very beginning of Midge’s comedy career, although there is an episode late in the season that deals with that very directly where another woman begins to talk to Midge about what she has to be and the other kind of performance put on to be a female in the comedy world,” Brosnahan explained. “And she doesn’t like what she hears.”
Midge is determined to do things her way; in heels, no less. The show gives "Mad Men" a run for its money when it comes to the costumes, which Brosnahan attributed to costume designer Donna Zakowska.
“These costumes were almost all designed by her. Almost none of them are actual vintage clothes,” Brosnahan said. “She was inspired by the pages of French Vogue and Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, and she continues to outdo herself. The costumes just get better and better and better as the season goes on.”
It all feeds into a distant aesthetic created by showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino, who also created the beloved series "Gilmore Girls."
"Mrs. Maisel" has that familiar fast-talking flair for which Palladino has come to be known.
But Brosnahan said spouting pages of dialogue at top speed came naturally to her.
“I appreciate that she has such a distinct fingerprint on everything that she does,” Brosnahan said of Palladino. “She’s a wonderful leader who runs a right ship. She has a crystal-clear vision and I’m so proud and honored to be part of executing it alongside her.”