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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Marin Hinkle on the ‘Herculean Task’ of Doing Stand-up Comedy

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Rose Weissman won’t stop. You thought being threatened over a herring lunch in Brighton Beach would bring her burgeoning matchmaker empire down? Well, maybe it did for a few days — Kelly Bishop’s mob widow is terribly persuasive — but in the final two episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s fourth season, an onstage hypnosis doubles as an unexpected epiphany for her future: Rose recreates a segment of her daughter’s strip-club stand-up act in front of an audience of hundreds, and the ensuing chaos makes her realize that she, too, is deserving of professional fulfillment as a woman in 1960. “My journey’s not so different from the one you’re on, mama — mine just involves more naked women and dick jokes,” Midge warmly tells her. “It’s easy to quit, but don’t. Don’t quit. Don’t stop.” And she doesn’t.

Marin Hinkle, who has deftly portrayed Rose and worn hundreds of fashionable hats throughout four Mrs. Maisel seasons, told Vulture that performing the comedy routine was perhaps the hardest task she’s ever had to do in her decades-long acting career. We also discussed her different relationships to Rose, mobsters, and America’s sweetheart, Tony Shalhoub.

I was bummed that our paths didn’t cross during Vulture Festival, but I’m so thrilled to chat with you now.
It’s funny, I’ve been going down a rabbit hole in the last hour about stuff you’ve recently written about and saw you interviewed that Jeopardy! champion with the yellow glasses. It was fantastic because he said this quote that stuck with me: “I thought I was destined to lose, so I just did my best.” I kept thinking about that quote because it relates to Rose so much.

I love that. How so?
I auditioned a lot for this role. It’s a hard business as a woman at a certain age. I had to smash through a lot of stuff to get it. I went to costume shops in Los Angeles and donned wigs and dresses. But I never believed I was very close to being Rose. In real life, I dress so disheveled. I’m a mom of a teenage boy. I’m so messy. Nothing within me understands the presentation of Rose. So it’s like that Jeopardy! guy said; I never thought I’d get the role. And when I got the role, it was suddenly all this imposter syndrome! Everybody is going to find out I’m not at all like her! I still feel like that in season five, but I’m so sad I’m going to have to leave her because she’s so much more exciting than I am.

When have you felt closest to Rose?
I still don’t think I’m very close to her in the reality of living in 2022. As soon as I’m done with my scenes, I always feel, Who is that person I got to be? But I think I felt really close to her during those Paris scenes and when she was studying at Columbia earlier in the show. There’s a connection when women get to regroup where their heads are. When Rose was looking around at how her family wasn’t taking her seriously and then jumped on a plane and left, there’s something about the absolute joy of redefinition that I long for. I felt very connected to that particular journey.

I feel that redefinition happened a lot with Rose this season. We have matchmaking drama, hypnosis stand-up, Kelly Bishop’s character yelling at her in an Italian accent.
I’m madly in love with my whole cast. Trust me, actors do not think that all the time. I tell everyone I meet that if they need an inspired person to look up to, it’s Rachel Brosnahan. I didn’t understand the depth she was doing with the stand-up until this herculean task of Marin playing Rose playing Midge playing Rachel. I sat there with my jaw dropped because I wasn’t given too much time to memorize the scene. I also wasn’t able to get any videotape of Rachel doing that stand-up routine. When we shot it, Rachel was so generous. When it seemed like I was going to fall apart because I was so scared I was going to do it incorrectly, she stood up from the audience and told me to breathe. She held me and played, like, a mother to me, frankly. I’m a theater actor, but I’ve never done comedy acts. I’ve never been that scared. You could’ve asked me, with a closed set, to be naked, and that would’ve been easier. A public stand-up act playing somebody else? Oh my God.

It took three days to film, and it was in the actual Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village. When it finished, I loved that Rose had to basically go, What happened? I felt the same sensation. What just happened? I’ll never be able to do that again! At the end of it, I held Rachel and told her I was even more in awe of her. I did love that Rose got to talk about sex acts and how her son masturbates. Rose has this magic element to her. Such courage. Even if I felt like my lipstick didn’t look good, and I kept sweating!

It was really wonderful to hear Rose say dick and crotch in front of hundreds of people. I like this side of her.
Some of the physical life that Rachel does while doing her acts — like swinging her hands and parts of her body — obviously, that’s not Rose. I started to do it, and the Palladinos were like, “Okay, you can pull it back.” The unfamiliarity was too jarring. We had to do a few adjustments there. I wasn’t supposed to sound exactly like her, for instance. That doesn’t happen when someone is hypnotized. Just a little homage. But dick and crotch? Fair game.

I was surprised Rose was susceptible to hypnotism in the first place!
I have to give a lot of credit to Gideon Glick being cast in that role. He’s very special. When he performs, you do get locked into his eyes. He’s very ethereal and handsome. He has a soothing and odd voice. He did this with me, and it felt like … you know how Rose falls sometimes for dashing young men?

Don’t we all …
In a way, it helped my performance. There’s a promotional photo that was recently sent to me, and it’s me looking at his back during that scene. I can see I was mad for him. I think, similarly, Rose opened her heart. Oh, this boy, where is he taking me?

After that hypnosis scene, Rose and Midge have a pretty affecting conversation about the merits and influences of their work. Do you think Rose will ever accept her daughter’s career as a comedian?
I think back to a scene from season three when the two of them have a confrontation about work and Rose tells Midge something to the effect of “I don’t understand the prostitution that you do, but we’re joined by the fact that we should never depend on the whims of a man.” Abe had just decided to leave his job, and Rose realized she had no money. That scene outside the theater comes full circle. It was my favorite heartfelt moment this season. Rose doesn’t get vulnerable much, so this is the little kernel pearl of her being insecure and thinking she can’t keep on being a matchmaker. Even though Rose hasn’t been able to completely open up so far to what her daughter does, Midge is guiding her and changing her life. Rose is doing a road-not-taken in her life too, and it wouldn’t have happened without her daughter’s impetus.

My son is of an age where he’s starting to do things differently than what I think he would do, and I hope the inspiration for me is that he’ll encourage me to take that kind of risk, too. When we get older, we get stuck in our ways. But I feel Rose is getting younger as she gets older, and that’s because of her absolute adoration of her daughter, even though she doesn’t say that. She’s not a sentimentalist, is she? She’s not mushy. Maybe that’s why everyone speaks so fast. The Palladinos don’t want to see that kind of sharing; they like the opposition.

I’m nervous that Rose will go into season five at war with the matchmakers, but I’m mostly proud of her.
Me too. I’ve seen a little bit of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s life, and I’ve always wondered if I’m a little bit of this or a little bit of that. I think she’s had this vision of all her women being able to be surprised every step of the way. Every time I think I’ve figured out something else about Rose, I’m thrown an awesome curveball and she gets even fiercer. Hey, in our fields as writers and actors, we’ve got to be crazy-courageous. There’s so little work at times, and we’re fighting constantly. There isn’t anything to sit back and rest on. There’s never any rest for the artists! Can I talk about my love of Tony Shalhoub for a second?

Only if I can also talk about my love of Tony Shalhoub for a second.
He’s a real chameleon. Tony knows how to find childlike joy in all of his characters. He pops up in every scene he’s in and is like, Hey, I’m so happy to be here! I always want to take a little bit of Tony with me and make sure I pinch myself in as many moments as possible.

I wish Rose and Abe got to wear matching his-and-hers opera capes. He looked fabulous in his, but still.
Okay, let me tell you: There were more cape scenes that were cut. We filmed an entire scene where Rose presents him with a cape, and he puts it on in the apartment. That didn’t make it in, did it?

I can’t believe we were deprived of more Tony Shalhoub cape content.
Maybe it can be released as a deleted scene or something. It goes like this: Rose gives him the cape gift, and this giant box gets opened. We had to work really hard so he could lift up the cape and put it around his shoulders. The two of us were dancing with this cape! It was like when they danced in Paris but with capes. It was a lovely callback.

I’d love to know everything about filming that matchmaker power-lunch scene. How did you not break every time Kelly said “Rose Weissman”?
There are many actresses who I have watched and admired for years on the screen; Kelly is one of them. I heard rumors that she would be a guest star, but I didn’t realize I would be sharing a scene with her until very late after the fact. And then when I saw that Rose stood up to her character’s aggressiveness? Hell, she’s the godfather of it all. Even when I walked into that shadowy restaurant, it felt like an homage to all of those Italian mafioso films. I watched The Godfather to get into the spirit of it. I have a few off-camera photo moments of all of us matchmakers. It’s one of my most precious visual memories. Rose is wearing a suit and pants, which she never gets to wear. It helped me feel powerful.

Rose thought she was attending the Small Business Women’s Council! She was dressed to impress.
She’s in a women’s power suit and walks in and thinks, This is going to be extraordinary! And, of course, it’s nothing like it. I felt the awe of those women and responded as naturally as Rose would. I had to realize, I belong here too. As does Rose. So yes, it was very hard not to break. I love watching Amy watch us do stuff. Sometimes there are hundreds of takes when we do scenes, but it was one of those days where it zoomed by so quickly. When we finished, I felt, Oh no, that wasn’t enough! Kelly only needed two takes, I swear. She’s so perfect. We didn’t even rehearse.

How bloody should we expect this matchmaker war to be next season?
Everyone is so secretive to me. I want to call Kelly’s agent and be like, “Hello, is Kelly coming back? And for how long?” This looks like this could be a very rich story. It’s odd and peculiar but grounded in reality for the time period. Remember when someone put a hit on Susie a few seasons ago, but the two guys ended up bonding with her and now they’re great friends who hang out in her office? Not exactly a Godfather ending, but it’s so funny.

Season four’s winner was absolutely the Italian mobster community.
I regret not being able to say, “Where’s the cannoli?!”

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Marin Hinkle on the ‘Herculean Task’ of Doing Maisel Comedy