Viewers of Amazon’s award-winning show (11 awards and counting) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel may know a lot about Miriam “Midge” Maisel — her nighttime skincare routine and ability to ply people with homemade brisket to name a few. But they probably know much less about the actress who brings Midge Maisel to life onscreen, Rachel Brosnahan. Keep reading to learn more about the actress.
You’ve probably seen Brosnahan on TV before
Brosnahan has had minor roles on popular TV shows such as Orange is the New Black, Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, The Good Wife, and The Blacklist. She’s played a variety of characters ranging from a transgender teen, a character with the credit of ‘girl,’ and the subject of a test case for a law firm, to name a few.
But her biggest television role began with five lines on House of Cards, according to IMDB. During filming, she caught the attention of Beau Willimon, the creator of House of Cards, and went on to become a major character on the show, Rachel Posner.
Writers hadn’t thought to name the character before, only naming the character ‘Rachel’ after Brosnahan joined the cast, according to Rolling Stone. “The more we worked with Rachel, the more obvious it became that she had a long and successful career ahead of her,” Willimon told Variety.
Rachel Brosnahan started acting in middle school
Brosnahan’s acting career started with musical theater in junior high and high school, according to IMDB. Acting remained a hobby throughout her youth.
“I guess I just didn’t know for a long time that it could be a career. I always felt like maybe I would have to choose something else,” Brosnahan told Variety.
Today, Brosnahan’s acting career still involves theater. In 2013, she performed in the Broadway play, The Big Knife, according to The New York Times.
At 16, she took an acting class at Wilmette’s Actors’ Training Center with the center’s director, Carole Dibo, who is now Brosnahan’s manager. After graduating from high school in Illinois, she moved to New York to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
After realizing she could make acting a career, Brosnahan landed her first movie role in the horror film, The Unborn, produced by Michael Bay, while in high school.
How Rachel Brosnahan got cast on ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
Co-creators of the show, husband and wife team, Dan Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino (the creator of Gilmore Girls), have vivid memories of Brosnahan’s audition for the role of Midge. “She was ruthless. Cutthroat,” Amy Sherman-Palladino told Rolling Stone. “She brought a steeliness,” Dan Palladino said.
Brosnahan’s impression of her audition starkly contrasts what the co-creators thought of it. “I went in for the preliminary audition and promptly felt like I had bombed it, big time,” Brosnahan told Harper’s Bazaar.
She got called back to do a camera test but got so sick — “sicker than I have ever been in my life” — she had to cancel. “I rallied, but I honestly was so sick during the camera test — 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! But Midge is kind of a disaster sometimes.”
Despite the rocky start in the role, Brosnahan knew she wanted to be a part of Amazon’s latest show. “I fell in love with it from the first page,” Brosnahan told Variety. “Midge reminded me of so many women that I know and love in my own life that I don’t see on-screen enough — unapologetically confident, ambitious women who approach the world with a sense of insatiable curiosity and joy.”
Brosnahan has a famous relative
Rachel Brosnahan is the niece of the late designer, Kate Spade. Brosnahan shared a photo on Instagram of her aunt on what would have been her 56th birthday with the caption, “Happy birthday, Katy B. We miss you like heck. 💛”