“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” event promoted by Amazon Prime Video was one of the most interesting pre-Emmy events that I’ve been to so far. People came dressed up to the Hollywood Athletic Club like they were from the 1950s and admired an array of clothes that was worn by the main character, along with parts of the sets that had visual effects as well.
After the first episode screening, we had a panel of the creators and actors with Paul Feig (actor/producer of “Bridesmaids” and “Freaks and Geeks”) hosting. He related that he used to do stand-up comedy himself but could not be persuaded to do any that night (unfortunately).
What followed was a thoughtful discussion about the differences in time periods, both the 1950s and today, and what a day was like on the fast-paced set.
Feig started off the panel by asking about where the idea came from for the show?
Amy Sherman-Palladino (producer, director and writer) told of how her father was a comic and how she grew up with “New York City Jews making cigarettes and telling stories about the Playboy Club and Catskills.”
She longed to be back in that time era too.
“Maybe there was damage to my psyche and I never had time for therapy,” she joked.
Sherman-Palladino also wanted to come up with a heroine with a specific reference and place, with “some way to break out of her role.”
“If you’re going to put a woman in the hardest role there is, it’s comedy. But to do comedy in 1958 and talk about betrayal and your husband leaving? It’s like a tidal wave, it f’d up a lot of people around her,” she explained.
Daniel Palladino (writer/producer) added, “It’s like a big bang and it is shooting off into space, continuing on into the second season.”
For Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the main character, stand-up comedy is “terrifying.”
“What I’m doing is performing the jokes written, and there is an audience being paid to laugh,” she related.
Actress Alex Borstein, who has been a professional comic, had told Brosnahan that she had an advantage, that if she had done standup and was pretending to do it, it would’ve been tougher.
Added Palladino, “It’s a story about a woman who is finding her way — taking steps as to what her persona will be and we are showing her honing her craft.”
For Tony Shalhoub, it was thrilling to read the script and talk with the creators about the show.
“As you all know, the part of Abe is not hugely visible in the pilot, but it really didn’t matter to me. I love this period and feel they had nailed it,” he said.
“I liked that it wasn’t the typical dad butt-of-the joke. “
Shalhoub explained that because they shoot wide-long shots, it felt like doing a play.
Actress Marin Hinkle talked about how early in her career, she was doing a play with Judd Hirsch and was watching him work with comedy.
“He never stopped and the audience was laughing – I learned I didn’t need to pause. You’re only as good as the writing.”
In regards to Michael’s Zegen’s character Joel, there was a little bit of a different reaction than probably to the other actors’ characters.
“I had a woman in an elevator say to me after the first episode came out, ‘You are LOATHSOME,’” said the bemused Zegen.
“Someone else asked me what it was like playing a villain and I said, ‘He’s not the Riddler!’ You are looking at someone who is at the lowest level of his life and I feel he has more layers to him.”
Sherman-Palladino added, “These are two people (Joel and Midge) who were madly in love with each other. She is a woman of her time and he’s a man of his time. We have people write letters to ask, ‘please let Joel be happy.’”
Palladino agreed, “People in the 1950s thought they were in the modern world, so I tell actors to act modern, not like you are in a period piece. I didn’t want it to be too lollipop-ish.”
Feig asked what a day on the set was like.
Shalhoub answered, “It’s like getting shot out of a cannon, but in a good way. You have to step on that bus and allow it to carry you.
There’s a lot of pages and it’s an ambitious schedule. It’s also exhilarating and the only downside is that there is a lot of cracking up. We are talking so fast that it’s a kind of a crazy absurdity. By the end of the day, you feel you’ve earned your keep.”
Moviehole is certainly looking forward to more developments from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”!