Marin Hinkle has one of the best jobs in television. As Rose Weissman, Hinkle plays onscreen mother to Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge Maisel on the Emmy winning series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Hinkle has had recurring television roles on “Homeland,” “Speechless” and “Madam Secretary.” She also appeared in films including “Frequency,” “Friends With Money,” and the upcoming “Before/During/After.”
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Marin Hinkle about her character arc in season two of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” In the first episode, Rose has absconded to Paris in search of herself, leaving behind her husband and daughter. We talked about Rose’s journey, the joys of filming in Paris, and the new age of television for women. Please enjoy our conversation:
Karen Peterson/Awards Circuit: I am so excited to talk to you today. I love “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” It’s such a fun show.
Marin Hinkle: Thanks. You know, it’s a great thing that not just women, like you, enjoying it. But last night I was at an event for my son, who’s a teenager, and it was a group of moms. One of the moms ended up finding out that I work on the show and she was so adorable. She says, “Oh my god, I haven’t seen it.” I said, “Oh, well, enjoy it if you see it.” She says, “But my husband loves it!” And I’m happy that when it first came out, I wasn’t always clear, will this be a show that will resonate beyond young women? Which, that in itself would be great! If it’s just young women, that’s all great! But the idea that my son who’s 15 loves it, or an older gentleman loves it, my father who’s in his 80s loves it. It isn’t one of those shows that has such a small reach. I feel very fortunate that it’s a widely embraced show.
KP: Absolutely. I think we’re getting into this time where films and television that star and are about women and by women are being accepted by everybody. It’s not “just a girl’s show.”
MH: I agree with you. You’re absolutely right. We’re so lucky. Sometimes I ask Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino], why now? What you just said is so significant. It’s like we lucked out that this is a time in which people don’t shut off the TV because it has a title character of a woman, that it’s about a young woman. That’s one of the best things about this time period. There are plenty of things that are still a problem – politically potentially, what have you – but this is a great, great thing about this show and this time.
KP: It’s so fun because the show is set in the 50s. I’m guessing season 3 will go into 1960. But it’s set in the 50s, which is a time when women were pretty repressed, and yet it shines such an interesting light on that. And your character in particular, Rose, really came alive and opened up in season two. Can you talk a little bit about finding out about Rose’s journey?
MH: I’d love to. When I first signed on to this show, it’s almost like everything that comes after this is gravy. But I already was in love with Rose because they describe the character as she enters the room as if in an MGM musical, in a satin robe lined with a feather boa. I remember when I auditioned for it, I thought, Okay, right there, that description is more articulate and more clever and unique than putting together a handful of characters I’ve played! I was so lucky that first season to even delve into who Rose was.
But then when I got the scripts for #1 and 2 of season two, I thought, Wow! They are so good at turning what I thought over. The underbelly of it is this opposite of, like you said, what did we think of this woman who was slightly seemingly judgmental about her daughter. Suddenly she’s almost having a mirrored experience to what her daughter’s done. Thrown caution to the wind and says, “Okay, I’m going to go after the things that make me happy, and I want to find out what it is that I am without its connection to other people, and in particular without its connection to a man, i.e. husband.”
So I love that side of Rose. And it was complicated when she came back to the States. Because I think there was part of me as Marin playing the character that thought, No, please! Keep going! Keep growing in this way that feels like the feminist in the 50s finding herself. But the truth is she also has parts of her that needed to be sewn and reaped in terms of her love for her husband and the need to go back and continue a life that she had already started and needed to support. In a way, I think she grapples with, How do you play both sides of it? And that’s something that I think in the future of Rose we’ll see. How does one have it all? How can you still be good to yourself but also be in a union with somebody else that needs to be supported emotionally? All the stuff that me as a mother am dealing with. How do you go after what I want but also make sure I’m home for my kid?
KP: It will be interesting to see how Rose continues into the 60s as society is changing. To see how she takes some of those things she has experienced here and what she does next. How excited were you to find out you were going to Paris?
MH: I loved it. Have you spent time there?
KP: I have. It’s beautiful.
MH: Yeah, so you know. I had done a little bit of time in my high school and post college, I had spent a total of like six days there. But there were those days where in your mind, they’re forever indelible in you. And you think, is there anything more beautiful than the architecture and that gray and the way you can feel history as you’re walking around? And so when I got the news I was going there, I thought this is such a dream come true. I can’t believe that not only am I playing a role that I’m in love with, but I actually go to the city that I’m that in love with. It kind of mirrored the way Rose was feeling, I think.
KP: What was one of your favorite parts about getting to film in Paris, and taking Rose there?
MH: I think now in terms of what happened earlier this year with Notre Dame, I think being along the Seine, in the middle of the night when they have boats that were shining lights and dancers they had hired to dance around us. There was something so dreamy about that and I had a little bit of a moment once when it was the middle of the night. We were actually shooting those scenes near the restaurant, and it’s kind of a silly moment on my own. Kind of an odd lack of realization. I turned to somebody and looked at the buildings and I said, “Oh my god, that scrim that they’ve put down is so beautiful to look at.” And they looked at me like, Are you crazy? I said, what do you mean? They said, That’s not a scrim. That’s what is real in front of us! I couldn’t believe it was that beautiful. Something that beautiful couldn’t be real.
I think it’s moments like that where it’s sort of the middle of the night and the city’s kind of gone to sleep and you’re shooting and you’re overtired. Those were the moments that were my favorite. They transported me in a way back through time. Which is why I turned to being an actor, because I was a kid who never wanted to grow up and so my love of play acting was so large that I just thought, Can I do this forever? And that was one of those moments. It doesn’t happen often. There’s plenty of times where the rejection is fierce and the amount of time you’re not working actually because you’re unemployed. But in a moment like that in Paris, you go, Okay, this is all worth it. It fuels you.
KP: So Rose comes back to her family, kind of back to reality. And then she enrolls in art class at the university. Did you study any art on your own to prepare?
MH: No, I didn’t. I actually was fortunate when I was in college. I grew up in a family that was incredibly quite an intellectual family where academic life was really honed and most deeply respected. They also love the arts, but I didn’t really do any serious art classes. I was a ballet dancer, but I didn’t do that. But when I thought about being an actor, I did this acting program at the O’Neill Theater Festival. One of the things they thought was really important, which I loved, is that we took art classes. They wanted us to understand what it meant to draw people and shapes. There were these art classes, we were all ferried in a bus over to Lyme, Connecticut. And we were doing extraordinary drawing naked women, naked men.
I did kind of use that part of my past to go into the delight of what Rose was doing and the joy of developing that side. And that scene where she sees the naked man was honestly one of the most fun things I could ever imagine shooting. Because I was just as embarrassed if not more so than Rose. And so I was really stunned and turned to the director at one point and asked, How did you cast him? And then I completely blushed because I think my question was implying, Did you have a naked session where you had to look at peoples’ private parts to decide if this was appropriate to 1950s? And it was really fun. That particular director is someone I know, Scott Ellis. And he blushed too and said, “Let me tell you, it was one of the strangest casting sessions! They come in, we talk about things, we didn’t ask them to be naked, but we looked to make sure their physiques fit the 1950s because if they were too muscular–” and I was like “Okay! I don’t need to know anymore!” It was a really fun day to shoot. I loved shooting the scenes with those women.
KP: You were hilarious! You’re so funny all throughout, but that scene especially.
MH: Oh, thank you!
KP: What is one of your favorite things about Rose? If she was a real person that you knew, what’s something you love about her?
MH: You know what I love? I have an aunt, my mom has two sisters but this sister in particular, whenever we’re in a setting like a family dinner or a holiday, she always can be relied upon to have the most wonderful, biting, hilarious remarks that kind of come under the event. And I think Rose, it’s no accident that her daughter is so funny. It’s not like Rose is going to be a stand up comic. That’s not the way her humor works. But in those moments of the Jewish holidays and we’re all together and Moishe is there and Shirley’s there. I love those scenes the most to shoot because I feel like Rose’s hilarity and how she handles those scenes is so delicious. I love that everything that happens in those scenes makes her a little crazy, and I think she just wants to drink. And that’s not the way I handle those situations. I’m a much more earnest person, but I think all she wants to do is secretly take out a cigar and roll her eyes at everybody. But in the time period I don’t think she can quite do it that way.
KP: I think her dialogue gets funnier every time you rewatch it too. It’s so layered. What’s something about her that drives you crazy?
MH: I am such a passionate supporter of everything to do with Rachel Brosnahan/Midge Maisel, that the idea that Rose sort of takes her down at times and isn’t completely supportive of all of Midge’s choices. That’s the hardest thing about playing the role. Because everything that is Rachel Brosnahan, I’m her biggest fan. Let’s put it that way. She can do no wrong in my eyes. So it’s always funny to play someone who’s the antithesis of that at times. That’s basically saying to her, “Oh my god, no, I can’t believe you’ve gone to work!”
But I did love, I have to say, to turn it around I did love those scenes in the beauty parlor where I was filled with all my gossiping ideas of who she has to date next. I loved that stuff! So as much as I don’t like that my character at times can be a little, shall we say judgmental about Midge, I do love that my character’s also deeply enjoying the maneuvering of motherhood. The way that we massage it to seem as if she’s coming up with some choices on her own, but secretly we believe we’re in charge of all.
KP: Well, we are!
MH: Exactly! We women are! You’re right! I also love that about her relationship to her husband, where often she kind of supports him in a way that makes it seem like he’s in charge. But the truth is, Rose is really in charge.
KP: It reminds me of that line in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” where Maria says, “The man is the head of the house but the woman is the neck.” I feel like Rose is the neck.
MH: That’s great! I remember seeing that film and remembering that line, but you’re absolutely right! She’s stirring the pot to make it all work, but secretly doing it.
KP: What is maybe your favorite scene from season two?
MH: I love what the natural elements of the world do. Like I said when we were in Paris with the outdoor scenes, and what the historical buildings were actually offering to what kind of acting was happening. But then let’s jump to what happened in the Catskills. Those scenes were so beautiful. Even if I didn’t say much. I’m thinking of a scene which was just sitting out on the porch, talking to my daughter. When the character of Pauly comes over. Saul Rubinek plays that roll. A scene like that, there’s something about it. The dragonflies were out and the water was gentle that day and the sun was setting and they brought us lemonade to drink, and you had to sort of use your hat to fan yourself to be cool.
There’s something about being in the natural elements that make me feel so connected to a character. And to be honest in New York because of the sounds of shooting outside, it’s not as easy to shoot as when you’re in an outdoor space like that in the Catskills. So I just thought they were incredible to shoot. On a picnic, sitting out on a blanket, watching the sky. And Rachel and I just sort of laughing. Those are the moments that will forever be in my head. The way that I feel about my own relationship to my own child, sitting outdoors with him, those are things that I think are the most beautiful moments.