How 'Mrs. Maisel' and a Trip to Paris Is Helping Marin Hinkle Learn to Let Go of Fear (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Marin Hinkle delivered one of ET's Standout Performances of the season for her role as Rose Weissman on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
A working actor since the mid-'90s, Marin Hinkle has spent decades as a supporting player on shows like Once and Again, Two and a Half Men and Madam Secretary. Her ability to flawlessly lay the groundwork for her co-stars to shine has made her into the secret weapon of television -- but as Rose Weissman, the tightly wound, devoted mother to Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, she took center stage.
In fact, the first two episodes of season two follow Rose to Paris, where she has spontaneously moved. While her husband, Abe (Tony Shalhoub), and daughter struggle to understand the motivation for her midlife crisis, for Hinkle, however, it was easy to relate to.
"I'm a mom," Hinkle simply states to ET over the phone. The actress and Randall Sommer, her husband of 20 years, have a teenage son, Ben. "Thank goodness I was fortunate enough to keep working, but you do sort of put your own needs and your own development a little on the back burner because the truth is you are just putting so much love and energy into helping somebody to develop. It's your offspring."
Hinkle doesn't outwardly equate her awareness of the sacrifices of motherhood to Rose's midlife crisis, but she doesn't seem bothered by the label. "I think what's so beautiful about the term midlife crisis, is it has a negative connotation so often, but in the end, it really means that people do kind of a reevaluation of their own journey of where they've been and where they want to go," she explains.
The actress thus felt lucky to take on Rose's storyline this season, which saw her trading her ritzy Upper West Side apartment for a bohemian Parisian studio with no bathroom. Rose ate what she wanted, drank what she wanted, smoked heavy cigarettes and adopted a dog named Simone -- all of which Hinkle did on location in Paris. It’s the same place she fell in love with her husband, making the experience all that more personal for her. "That was when I started thinking about maybe getting married. I was reliving that," she remembers fondly.
"I haven't done that kind of journey privately in many, many years, where I get on the plane and actually take walks through a city where I don't speak the language. I really felt so lucky that I, too, was able to kind of find an independent life that I haven't been having in my own life for quite a while," Hinkle says, indulging in the parallels between fiction and reality. "It's like a blessing in disguise."
When she was initially cast as Rose, Hinkle expected the character to do nothing more than service Brosnahan’s titular Midge, playing the supportive yet overbearing mother. In season one, Rose tried tirelessly to fix her daughter's crumbling marriage to Joel (Michael Zegen) and devoted herself to supporting her husband. She was strong, but not flashy. "She was the captain of a ship that is silently captaining," Hinkle notes, acknowledging that Rose got a lot louder by season two. “[She] became a much more evolved, intricate and complicated person that I got to develop the second season," she says.
Now she’s ready to dig into even more in season three. In fact, she’s hoping for scenes with Alex Borstein, who plays Midge’s gruff manager, Susie. "Alex Borstein is a comic genius, both on screen and off as a person," she says, recalling how she and Borstein bonded while promoting season two of Maisel. "It just is such an exquisite concept taking characters that seem diametrically opposed, and then throwing them together -- that is something I'm hoping for this season. Whether or not it happens, I can't say. I don't know yet, but I would love more of that."
Pairing Rose with Susie in season three just might be the way to give the former character more of the independence Hinkle would like to see from her. Rose isn't exactly feminist, she notes, but she's starting to push the limits of what is expected from women in a way that parallels what's happening in the industry now.
"Ageism, of course, is rampant and sexism is still something we're dealing with and the #MeToo movement is shedding a light on it," the actress says, praising Maisel for touching on these subjects in a manner that fits with the time period, tone and story. "What about this woman who had gone to college but probably hadn't thought after she got married that she would actually have a job?"
Abe allowing Rose to audit art classes as he did after their Paris reconciliation is step one for Hinkle, whose dream is to see Rose kill it in the workforce as a woman in her 50s -- just like Hinkle herself. "I mean this from my heart," she says. "The true joy is that I'm in my 50s and have a job today because what I recognize is the difficulty of how few and far between available jobs there are for people of my age. That's the truth. As a woman, in their 50s, it's still a huge struggle right now."
"[When I took the role of Rose], I didn't really think, How will she actually look in the mirror and say, 'Who am I now?' And I felt so lucky by that," Hinkle shares. "All these things that I think Rose would have been deeply frightened of that first year [and] as an actor, it kind of asked me to let go of the fear too."