Features — 27 November 2019
Backstage with Mrs. Maisel’s mom in Miami

By Jane Wollman Rusoff

City & Shore Magazine

All sorts of delectable reasons make The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, starring Rachel Brosnahan, marvelous. And here’s another big one: Last June, the New York-based cast and crew swooped in to shoot a host of episodes here for the multi-award-winning Amazon series’ third season, debuting Dec. 6.

Claiming the bright sunshine and bold vibe as its own, the show – about a ’50s New York housewife who shockingly reinvents herself as a comic after her husband bolts – turned 2019 into 1959-1960.

Marin Hinkle, who plays Midge Maisel’s mom, Rose Weissman, gave City & Shore a backstage glimpse of the show’s Miami Beach experience.

This season, Mrs. Maisel has fully committed to a comedy career, sallying forth as opening act on a star singer’s U.S.-European tour. Miami Beach, as it happens, is a strikingly beautiful stop.

Safe to say that, as her daughter’s show biz career blooms, Rose, warmed by the Florida sun, blossoms too – and not just because of those flowered hats and dresses she rocks in Miami Beach.

How was the experience of shooting the show here in June?

I fell in love with Miami. It was like going backwards in time because many areas of Miami Beach felt like the photographs of the ’50s that I’d looked at. When I saw the beauty of the fancy hotels and the pools they transformed, it didn’t take much to shift to being 1959 or early 1960.The pastels of the ’50s are still there.

What was it like to film in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach?

One day I went [strolling] through and saw 1959 disappearing into 2019: It was seamless. The crew was eating lunch outside by the pool. I looked around and went, wait a minute – who are the people from my show, and who are the people that are actually visiting the hotel? It was delightful not be able to tell them apart. There were 1959 cars arriving and letting out hundreds of extras. You felt that you’d been transported to a different time.

Any juicy backstage tales?

There were some very funny stories, but I’m sworn to secrecy. I’ll just say that a couple of our crew lost their wedding rings. They were enjoying the water so much that they forgot to take them off, and they ended up on the bottom of the ocean!

Where did you stay?

They put us up in the beautiful Faena [Hotel Miami Beach]. When I wasn’t needed on-set, I spent some days with my college roommate, who lives right along the water. We had extraordinary Cuban food and saw people dancing the salsa.

Did anything about Miami surprise you?

Sometimes when you had to get up for a 4 a.m. call, you’d see people still partying. New York is called the city that never sleeps. But I think Miami truly must be.

Describe your character, Mrs. Maisel’s mom, Rose Weissman.

She’s a woman with an absolute love for her family, very devoted. On the other hand, she’s quite an individual and has very strong opinions on what’s right and wrong about how to live. She’s very artistic and, in my opinion, very witty. Rose has a complicated relationship with her daughter being a comedian: It doesn’t feel like what she dreamed would be her future. There’s a sense that she’s selling her mind – like selling her soul.

In playing Rose, did Miami Beach inspire you?

At dusk, I’d be running my lines by myself and look out my hotel window and see the water and little magical lights on the trees. I could see Tony [Shaloub] down at the pool doing laps. I felt like I was Rose looking down at her husband, Abe. It was very similar to the way she would be fondly gazing out the window at him. I thought: Am I myself in that moment, or have I stepped back in time as Rose?

Any scenes that stand out in your memory?

A lot of our show feels like an extraordinary musical theatre dance piece. There’s one sequence shot in Miami that’s so exquisite and enticing that I think it will go down in contemporary television history because it will take your breath away. It follows the characters around outside and incorporates external parts of Miami Beach in a way that you’ll feel is almost like a love letter to Miami. That footage will make people say, ‘Let’s change our vacation plans and go to Miami. That’s where we need to go!’

Tell me about the wardrobe for the Florida episodes.

Rachel [Brosnahan] is in the most gorgeous dresses [Mrs. Maisel] has ever worn. They continued to find her the most beautiful hats, and they added outdoor-wear and gorgeous swimsuits – all the colors and [details] of the 1950s.

How about Rose’s wardrobe?

The costume designer, Donna Zakowska, is a true genius. She picked hats that incredibly articulated who Rose was in the moment. One, in particular, had flowers all over it. Rose is enjoying the outdoor life of drink and sun and flowers! That’s a Miami moment, let me tell you!

What’s the focus of the costume style for the Florida episodes?

Donna said that we weren’t going to dress in a casual way for Miami – we’re going for the bold. So they stepped up Rose’s eveningwear: a little more shine, a little bit more ‘money,’ a little more starry. I got to wear a beautiful silk dress with a lot of gorgeous flowers. Also, there were more pastels, and the fabric was a bit different. The cotton was a little more breathable.

Anything different about hairstyles?

It was decided that they would shift a bit. There was a looser feel to who Rose was in Miami; so in the scenes there, her hair had a looser, less structured quality too.

How did the part of Rose come about for you?

It was my first role after being out for a while with an injury. My agent sent me the piece, and I said, ‘How can I not audition for a role and pilot like this!’ So I went to a costume shop and rented clothing that was appropriate to the way they described Rose: a clotheshorse. I got a feather boa, which I sewed on to a red velvet collar, and a satin dressing gown fit for a queen. I wore a wig. For my four auditions, I tried to embody Rose as strongly as possible.

Did you do any research for the part after you won it?

I went through my mother’s photographs from the late 1950s. I look like my mom when I put on the wig that I wear on the show. I looked at similar photos my mother-in-law had, and I talked to them about [the women] they were in 1959. I did research on Jews during that time and a little bit on comedians. I looked at all the research that Donna and the hair and make-up designers had.

Did Donna give you any guidance?

Yes. She showed me the palettes of color schemes and explained the trajectory of Rose’s journey and how she was going to exemplify that by changing colors as a mirror to the way Rose [would progress].

Why did you decide to be an actor?

I wanted to be a ballet dancer but got injured and couldn’t continue to pursue that. So I found myself on a journey to become an actor. I like the idea of being a time traveler. Sometimes, when I’m working, I get this buzz and think I’m not really in the present time and have to practically pinch myself.

What was your career path?

I’ve definitely been more of a tortoise than a hare. I didn’t jump to any kind of big bouncing success. For five years, I was in regional theatre, and then I did off-Broadway, which led to Broadway and co-starring in [a 1996 revival] of A Thousand Clowns. Then I got cast in TV shows like Once and Again and Two and A Half Men.

What do you like best about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as a series?

It’s more than eye candy for the senses or an amusement park ride. One reason it touches people is that it reminds them of their own families. It goes to the heart of a woman’s relationship to her family and children and then to her new best friend, her manager [Alex Borstein]. I love that it’s a story about a woman finding herself.

O N L I N E   B O N U S

What we know about Season 3

The story so far

At the end of the show’s second season, Miriam “Midge” Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan, landed a gig as the opening act for a singer’s world tour, which may explain the stop in Miami Beach for the new season, debuting on Dec. 6. In the 1950s, Miami Beach was a tourism boomtown with hotels including the Fontainebleau offering entertainment from crooners Frank Sinatra and comedians such as Jerry Lewis.

The location

Crews spent a few days at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Miriam “Midge” Maisel and her manager Susie, played by Alex Borstein, were seen hanging out under a poolside umbrella at the resort.

What they’re reading

Donning a pink swimsuit, Brosnahan was seen reading a vintage copy of Vogue magazine.

Local talent

In May, before production crews arrived at the hotel, the show had a casting call for extras who were comfortable receiving 1950s haircuts such as short coiffed bobs for women and short-groomed styles for men. “They can’t have any facial surgery. Men as well,” said Melanie Moreno, casting director and owner at the FrontRunner Casting Agency, which has offices in South Florida and Orlando. She added that potential extras could not have “extensive tanning” or be “super tanned.” Extras will be a mix of upscale-looking folks as well as beachgoers.

Fun fact

The Fontainebleau, designed by famed South Florida architect Morris Lapidus, has been the backdrop for many films and TV series over the years, including Goldfinger in 1964 and, most recently, ABC’s Grand Hotel.

What they’re saying

“It was such an honor to host The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on property,” said Phil Goldfarb, president and chief operation officer of the Fontainebleau. “Having them here brought an incredible amount of excitement to our guests and staff. As a historic property, we are looking forward to watching the new season to see how they bring the original Fontainebleau Resort of the 1950’s back to life.”

  • Johnny Diaz            

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