This story about Rachel Brosnahan first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
This Emmy’s season marks Rachel Brosnahan’s second go-round for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, a category she won last year for her portrayal of Miriam “Midge” Maisel on Amy Sherman-Palladino’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” This time around, she’s up against such formidable adversaries as Natasha Lyonne from “Russian Doll,” Christina Applegate from “Dead to Me,” Catherine O’Hara from “Schitt’s Creek,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge from “Fleabag” — plus the most nominated and winningest woman in the history of the category, Julia Louis-Dreyfus from “Veep.”
“I am ready to lose gracefully, and stand on my feet and clap my ass off for Julia Louis-Dreyfus in September,” Brosnahan said, laughing to acknowledge that Louis-Dreyfus had won the category six years in a row before last year, when she wasn’t eligible.
“She is a goddess of comedy. She’s been one of my heroes — icons — for as long as I can remember, and ‘Veep’ is one of my favorite shows on TV. I’m a big, big Julia Louis-Dreyfus fangirl.”
The “Maisel” star also made a point to appreciate how rare it is to get any recognition at all. “I’m really lucky to be a part of a show that has caught wind, that’s broken through the Peak TV-ness of it all,” she said. “There’s so much good TV on, and this show has been particularly visible. Because I’ve been a part of great shows that didn’t get eyeballs on them.”
To get this much notoriety for a comedic performance is also a feat that’s not lost on Brosnahan, who had never before acted in a comedy.
“It remains a very different side of me as a performer,” said the actress, whose first Emmy nomination came for “House of Cards” in 2015, and whose other work includes “The Blacklist” and “Manhattan.” “I don’t come from comedy — it’s been terrifying every step of the way.”
But diving into a new skill headfirst is something Brosnahan and her character have in common.
“The hardest thing about Season 2 is that Midge is no longer an amateur comedian. She’s learning, and she’s learning fast, and by the end of Season 2, you have to believe that she’s ready to go on tour. I definitely felt that pressure to make sure that Midge and I were at the same level. She’s just a woman who’s funny, and I have a funny woman writing the dialogue that makes her funny,” she said, referring to Sherman-Palladino. “So thankfully, I got to learn, alongside Midge, the more technical aspects of playing a comedian.”
Read more from the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.