Rachel Bros­na­han

The star of Ama­zon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel opens up about wrestling guys and driv­ing cross-coun­try with dogs.

Men's Journal - - NOTEBOOK - By SARAH Z. WEXLER


Be­tween the Golden Globe and the Emmy, it’s been a big year for you. How are you go­ing to cel­e­brate?

With some time off and a lot of Net­flix.

In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you play a bud­ding stand-up co­me­dian. Did you hear any great jokes while re­search­ing the role?

I use this one when­ever I need an ice­breaker: What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween a tire and 365 con­doms?

What? One’s a Goodyear, and one’s a great year.

Ba-da-bum! Would you ever do stand-up, or would that give you the ner­vous barfs?

Did you say “the ner­vous barfs”?

That’s what I said.

That’s ex­actly how I feel about it! I will leave the real stand-up to the pro­fes­sion­als. I bow down, but I pre­fer to watch from a very safe dis­tance.

What do you think about the old crit­i­cism about women not be­ing funny?

I feel frus­trated when I hear peo­ple say that. You do still hear peo­ple say that, which is mind-bog­gling. Funny is funny, or not funny is not funny. I don’t think there’s any dif­fer­ence be­tween the genders there.

In Mrs. Maisel, your char­ac­ter’s hus­band leaves her, and she has to nav­i­gate be­ing on her own. Are you more com­fort­able be­ing part­nered up or solo?

I’m com­fort­able both ways. I think no­body needs some­body else to be their best self, but some­times if you find the right per­son, they can com­plete you and lift you up and help you ex­plore new parts of your­self that you didn’t know were there.

Your show takes place in

1958—how do you think things have changed for women since then?

Slowly but surely it’s be­com­ing more ac­cept­able for women to lead their house­holds, to have more fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence and au­ton­omy, but those are still things that feel taboo. The num­ber of women in the work­force ver­sus the num­ber of women who hold po­si­tions of in­flu­ence and power is still com­pletely dis­pro­por­tion­ate. In many ways we’re still fight­ing the same bat­tle that we were, but the nee­dle has moved.

When you were just start­ing out as an ac­tor in high school, you were cast in a hor­ror film pro­duced by Michael Bay. Was that a big deal to your class­mates in Illi­nois?

To be hon­est, my role was like five lines. But I was in my high school theater pro­gram


do­ing mu­si­cals, even though I can’t sing.

I also read that you were on the wrestling team. And that you wres­tled guys.

Yes, but I never felt like the only chick on the team—i was just a part of the team. I liked that it’s done by weight class, so within your weight class, every­body has to­tally dif­fer­ent skill sets; the only thing you have in com­mon is that you weigh the same. So it didn’t mat­ter if I wasn’t as strong as the guy if I was faster or bet­ter in a po­si­tion.

Did wrestling teach you any­thing about act­ing?

It felt im­pro­vi­sa­tional. It was about lis­ten­ing and re­spond­ing to some­one else, and that feels like some­thing I’ve taken with me as an ac­tor. It made me feel pow­er­ful and strong. The work­outs were in­tense and in­sane. I loved be­ing a part of a team but also com­pet­ing as an in­di­vid­ual.

It sounds like you’re a jock.

I was also in the Snowflake Club, which would take kids out on the week­ends on these big coach buses to ski and snow­board in Wis­con­sin. I grew up ski­ing, but when I was 11 or 12 I tried snow­board­ing and found out I was bet­ter at it than I ever was at ski­ing. Ski­ing is hard.

Do you still do it?

My brother lives in Den­ver, so my fam­ily and I go at least once a year. I still love it, but I’m def­i­nitely less fear­less as an adult than I was then. I can’t re­ally af­ford to break my face now.

True. Your dogs show up on your In­sta­gram a lot—are you a crazy dog lady?

I can hang with the cra­zi­est of the crazy dog ladies. They’re my fur chil­dren. Nikki is a pit mix, and she’s so gen­tle and sweet and needy. The girl is needy—she just stares at you with these hu­man eye­balls. Her well is very deep. Then Win­ston is my Shiba Inu, who is filled to the brim with ’tude. He was fiercely in­de­pen­dent, more like a cat, but he’s get­ting cud­dlier.

What’s the most crazy-dog-lady thing you’ve done for them?

I was in Van­cou­ver and go­ing on va­ca­tion for a week, and I didn’t want to board them be­cause Nikki is a res­cue and she’s a lit­tle bit ner­vous. I spent five days driv­ing them all the way to Dal­las to stay with fam­ily. My best friend came along, and we turned it into a big old dog­gie road trip.

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