Rachel Brosnahan’s show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is one of the most beloved series that you can stream on Amazon and with good reason. According to critics, the set design is spectacular, the costuming is spot-on, the dialogue is witty and clever, and the acting is some of the best that’s out there. Additionally, the casting is exceedingly well-done, as every character inhabits their roles with gusto and accuracy.
At the center of the period comedy is, of course, actress Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the role of Midge Maisel, a housewife and mother who becomes a stand-up comedian in New York City in the 1950s. Brosnahan has been lauded for her work on the show, taking home the Golden Globe award for best actress in a TV comedy two years in a row, among many others.
But what else is there to know about the young actress who’s stolen the hearts of her fans? And what is she like in real life? Read on to discover the untold truth of Rachel Brosnahan.
Rachel Brosnahan was really sick when she auditioned for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Imagine it: you’re preparing for the audition of a lifetime and bam! You get the flu, and you get it badly. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Rachel Brosnahan, who was super ill when she auditioned for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Dan. “I was all ready to go, and then got so, so sick,” she recalled in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “I mean, sicker than I have ever been in my life.” Yikes!
Brosnahan was in such poor health that she postponed the test, but she didn’t pushed it back a second time as she didn’t want to jeopardize her chances. “I rallied, but I honestly was so sick during the camera test,” she continued. “I was so sweaty Amy kept stopping me because I had to powder my face, I was blowing my nose, I took my shoes off at some point… at best, that test was a beautiful disaster!”
Clearly Brosnahan obviously nailed the audition in spite of her health, as she snagged the role of Midge and never looked back. But that definitely sounds like the audition from hell.
This movie inspired Rachel Brosnahan to start acting
One thing that Rachel Brosnahan knew fairly early on in life was that she loved acting, and she decided to pursue it in earnest when she was a teenager, according to the Chicago Tribune. Part of that was due to the influences around her, including one particular film. “I didn’t grow up watching a lot of movies or TV shows, but the movie that made me want to do this so much was Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century,” she revealed in an interview with Zimbio. That’s… an interesting choice, to say the least.
But Brosnahan has a good reason for citing that movie as influential on her life’s trajectory. “The Disney Channel used to put out so many awesome movies like that. For me, the more ridiculous, the better,” the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star continued. “That movie was so different and about exploring another world — I wanted to do that and play people who were so far from anything I could imagine.”
While Brosnahan isn’t starring in a show in outer space, she’s had a diverse variety of roles, for sure. She’s living the dream!
Rachel Brosnahan almost missed her big break
Rachel Brosnahan got her first big break when she was cast in the 2009 film The Unborn, which starred Gary Oldman and Odette Annable. She was just 17 years old at the time, however, and her naiveté almost caused her to miss out on the opportunity altogether. “I got a callback and it turned out I was going to be out of town the day the part was shooting,” she shared in an interview with Zimbio. “The director, David Goyer, asked me, ‘Would you rather be in a major feature film or take a vacation?'”
While you would think Brosnahan would have opted for the former, she instead told the director that she had been planning the vacation for a long time. “They must have thought I was a complete moron. I’m fairly positive they gave me this part just to f**k with me,” she continued. “I had no idea what I was doing. I’m lucky that anybody ever gave me a job again.” Talk about a learning experience!
Rachel Brosnahan's House of Cards role was originally much smaller
Viewers of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel might also be familiar with Rachel Brosnahan’s work in the Netflix series House of Cards, in which she played sex worker Rachel Posner. But surprisingly enough, that character originally only had five lines and was to only appear in two episodes.
So what changed? According to showrunner Beau Willimon, Brosnahan’s acting caused him to want to make her character much bigger. “She had done such a fine job those first two episodes that I started exploring what it would mean to bring her character back and fully three dimensionalize her,” he explained in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “Rachel was so fantastic when we brought her back that I just wanted to write for her more and more.” That’s quite the testament to her acting chops.
Brosnahan went on to receive an Emmy Award nomination for outstanding guest actress in a drama series for her work in House of Cards in 2015, according to IMDb.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Amy Sherman-Palladino called Rachel Brosnahan a "space alien"
By all accounts, working on the set of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a pretty demanding job. The days run long, the costuming is less-than-comfortable (Rachel Brosnahan regularly wears a corset), and the script required extensive memorization, according to an article in Harper’s Bazaar. But Brosnahan is always up for the task, and she executes her scenes with gusto, something that creator Amy Sherman-Palladino praises Brosnahan for. “She’s a space alien, or she’s some sort of magical creature, or — I believe I’ve described her before as a Tolkien character,” she mused in an interview with Vanity Fair. “She’s just, she’s just kind of not of this earth.”
Sherman-Palladino’s adoration for her newest acting muse isn’t misplaced, either, as Brosnahan is extremely capable on set. “She’s a very smart girl, and she understands things — which is 90 percent of the job,” the Gilmore Girls creator added. The other ten percent must be her fitness and skincare routines, as Brosnahan is totally gorgeous.
These are the actors Rachel Brosnahan looks up to
Though she had been in the acting world for nearly a decade when she scored The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Rachel Brosnahan was a relative newcomer compared to other folks in the industry when she found fame. Unsurprisingly then, Brosnahan looks up to other actors in the business and cites them specifically as inspirations. “Meeting Emma Thompson while working on Beautiful Creatures was a dream come true,” she gushed in an interview with Zimbio. “She’s one of my idols as a woman and as an actress.” Brosnahan also worked with Frances McDormand on Olive Kitteridge, and called her “kind, beautiful, and strong.”
Brosnahan’s specific reasoning for singling out these two women extends beyond their acting capabilities, which she calls brilliant, too. “From what I can tell, they manage to lead really rich and fulling lives outside of this, which is exciting to me,” she continued. “You don’t really read about them in the tabloids. They’re class acts.”
If Brosnahan’s career thus far is any measure, she’s well on her way to becoming their equal.
Rachel Brosnahan didn't like living in L.A.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is very much a “love letter” to New York City, showcasing everything the city has to offer the people who live there. And though Rachel Brosnahan is originally from Illinois, she loves her adopted home of New York dearly, and she can’t see herself living anywhere else.
So when Brosnahan took the advice of a studio executive to move to Los Angeles early in her career, she felt like a fish out of water. “In New York, you go to the grocery store however the f**k you can get there, whatever you look like, wherever the line is shortest,” she shared in an interview with Rolling Stone. “In L.A., the grocery store was a runway. People are done up to go to the grocery store.” It’s crazy but true!
Additionally, Brosnahan found herself “talking about juice a lot and drinking juice a lot and spending a lot of time planning yoga.” She continued, “I was changing in ways I never thought I would and did not like.” So after eight months, she packed it up and returned to the Big Apple.
Rachel Brosnahan and Jason Ralph kept their marriage a secret
Rachel Brosnahan has been walking the red carpet with The Magicians actor Jason Ralph for quite a few years. But up until 2018, fans didn’t know that the pair were married — and had been for some time! “I’ve been quite private about my personal life for a few reasons,” she revealed in an interview with People magazine. “The first being that it’s just that…personal.”
But that wasn’t the only reason the couple kept their marriage private, as sexism also played a role. “Jason and I also noticed early on that, while we are both the leads of successful television series, he has almost never been asked about our relationship while I have been asked on almost every red carpet I have walked in the last 2 years,” the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star continued. “We both find this double standard problematic and frustrating and opted to redirect those conversations to our work.” Nothing but respect for that reasoning!
This is Rachel Brosnahan's natural hair color
Longtime fans of Rachel Brosnahan have gotten to see her with a variety of different hair colors and styles over the course of her career. For example, for her role in House of Cards, Brosnahan sported both brunette and ginger tresses throughout the series. And in Crisis in Six Seconds, Brosnahan rocked blonde locks, a style that’s completely different than her signature Midge Maisel brunette look. And in Beautiful Creatures, she had dark brown curls spilling over her shoulders, reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.
Of course, if you’ve only seen Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, it might be hard to picture her with anything other than dark hair. But which of these is her natural look, and which are dye jobs? “Blonde is my natural hair color, but I started dying it dark when I was 16,” she confessed in an interview with Us Weekly. “I feel more myself with dark hair.” Mystery solved!
Rachel Brosnahan isn't Jewish like her Marvelous Mrs. Maisel character
Judaism is front and center in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as Midge Maisel and all of her family members are Jewish. At the beginning of the series, Midge has secured the most in-demand rabbi in the city as a guest for her upcoming Yom Kippur breakfast, a marker of status. Plus, she and her family have the best seats at temple, something Joel says he no longer wants when he leaves her for Penny. And when Midge gets sloshed after Joel walks out, it’s kosher wine that she’s drinking before her spontaneous debut at the Gaslight.
But despite the prominence of Jewish culture and life in the show, Rachel Brosnahan herself isn’t Jewish, according to an article in Vanity Fair. She did grow up in a very Jewish neighborhood near Chicago, and she’s played a Jewish woman before in Manhattan. But Brosnahan herself simply isn’t Jewish, which honestly is a little surprising given how synonymous she’s become with her character Midge.
Rachel Brosnahan was on the wrestling team in high school
You can tell that Rachel Brosnahan is in great shape just by looking at her: Her skin is flawless, her hair is super healthy, and her figure is super fit. As it turns out, Brosnahan has always been athletic, and, believe it or not, she was really into wrestling. “I was on my high school team,” she recalled in an interview with Shape. “I’d always been curious about it. Then in my freshman year, when I didn’t get a part in the musical Beauty and the Beast, I was devastated, and wrestling was there for me.” What a trip!
Brosnahan looks back on her grappling days fondly, as she learned a lot. “I loved it! I won some matches; I lost some,” she continued. “I remember wrestling someone who was 119 pounds (I was 112) and getting pummeled. But I enjoyed how difficult the training was and watching my body change because of the work I was putting in.” That will certainly get you into fighting shape, for sure.
This fashion designer was Rachel Brosnahan's aunt
One thing you might not know about Rachel Brosnahan is that the late fashion designer Kate Spade was her aunt. Naturally, losing her was very painful for Brosnahan and her relatives. “This past year has obviously been very challenging for my family,” she confessed in a 2019 interview with Shape magazine. We’re so sorry for your loss, Rachel.
To honor Spade’s life and work, Brosnahan looked to fashion for inspiration. “When you lose someone you love, you search for ways to commemorate and honor them and keep their memory alive,” she continued. “Katy inspired me greatly as an artist and a human being, which is why I have partnered with Frances Valentine, the fashion brand she created, to celebrate her life and legacy and the impact that she and her work had on so many people.” That’s a fitting tribute to one of the most talented fashion designers the world has seen.
Rachel Brosnahan holds this cause near and dear
If you spend a little time on Rachel Brosnahan’s Instagram page, you’ll notice that she’s quite socially engaged. For example, she has posted about ending global poverty, has implored followers to advocate for closing the camps at the border, and has written about the importance of education. “We’re living in a moment when there are so many challenges we’re facing as a country and in the world, and we all have a part to play,” she explained in an interview with Shape.
But there’s one charity in particular that Brosnahan does a lot of work for that’s near and dear to her heart. “I’ve been a member of the board of Covenant House for the last two years, and I’m deeply inspired by the work it does,” the star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel continued. “The organization serves homeless young people in 31 cities across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.” It’s nice to see celebrities putting in the work to help others.
Rachel Brosnahan wants to work with more women in the future
One thing that’s great about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is that women are at the center of the show. For one, the star of the comedy is a woman, as is the primary creator of the show, Amy Sherman-Palladino. Additionally, Midge’s manager on the show is also a woman, which gives Midge ample time to have conversations that pass the Bechdel Test.
In the future, Rachel Brosnahan wants to see more estrogen in the movie business, both in front of and behind the camera. “I’m dying to work with more women in all different facets of the industry,” she revealed in an interview with Variety. “I hope that there’ll be more opportunities to work with more women as we continue the conversation about the need for more women to be represented in different parts of this industry, whether in front of or behind the camera.” We are definitely here for this!
Rachel Brosnahan lost out on jobs because she wasn't funny enough
Rachel Brosnahan is obviously killing it on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as is evidenced by her multiple awards for playing Midge. But believe it or not, Brosnahan didn’t recognize her innate comedic talent for many years, as she was never recognized for being funny — quite the opposite, in fact. “I’m laughing [at the fact that] I’m now an award-winning comedic actress,” she shared in an interview with Glamour magazine. “Like, that feels absurd! I spent most of my life being told I wasn’t funny. I’ve lost many jobs because people would say, ‘We really liked her, but she’s just not funny.'” Well, who’s laughing now?
It wasn’t just a one-time thing either, as Brosnahan tells it. “It happened enough times that there was a pattern,” she continued. “I thought, Maybe I should listen to it. Now I’ve realized you can continue to learn things, even when you’ve formed a really solid sense of self.” It’s a good thing she didn’t give up, as look at where she is now!
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