'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s' Marin Hinkle on How Rose Has Bloomed
Marin Hinkle, who plays Mrs. Maisel’s mother Rose Weissman, talks with us about how her character has evolved over the seasons
(NOTE: If you haven't watched the series, this will contain spoilers!)
When Next Avenue spoke with Marin Hinkle, we talked about the fourth season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." But she and the other actors have already started filming on the fifth and final one of this beloved series on Amazon Prime. Set in the late 1950s in New York City, it's the story of Miriam "Midge" Maisel, a young housewife who becomes a stand-up comedian.
Before playing Rose, Hinkle, 55, graced the casts of many television series and movies. In addition to playing Judith, the ex-wife of Alan Harper (played by Jon Cryer) on "Two and a Half Men," Hinkle has appeared as a recurring character on shows such as "Madam Secretary," "Speechless," and "Homeland" among many others.
In real life, she's also a wife and mom, having married Randall Sommer in 1998; their son Ben is now 18 and on his way to college next year.
What follows is our interview, edited for length and clarity.
Next Avenue: How do you think Rose has evolved as a woman, a wife and a mother as the show has progressed?
Marin Hinkle: I think she's evolved in all three of those ways. I think the way that she saw the role of wife was quite traditional in the beginning of the series, and we didn't know at that point, as an audience, that she would end up leaving her husband and family to go to France, and would turn around and educate herself, taking art classes and then other classes at Columbia.
"I love that she's grown in such a surprising way."
We didn't expect that she would end up with a job and say goodbye to the trust fund her family was giving her, as well as weather the news that her husband [Abe Weissman, played by Tony Shalhoub] was leaving his job – not just once, but twice. He left Columbia and Bell Labs.
So, I think that if you had asked her at the beginning of the series, 'How would you be with being the leader and the important breadwinner? Would you crumble or not?' She may have said, 'Oh, I might.'
But actually, the truth is that she's proven that she's not crumbling.
I love that she's grown in such a surprising way. I think that connects into an idea of her as a woman, because I think that she thought of herself as bright, and I think that she loved learning.
But I do think she probably put it aside as time went on and she had her children, and she was caring more about other things in her Upper West Side life.
I also think she's a person who's educating herself in ways, now two years or three years into this, that she hadn't really been doing. And then that brings me to her as a mother.
I think that she doesn't admit that she is growing in her acceptance of her child, Miriam [played by Rachel Brosnahan], doing stand-up. They don't really represent in the dialogue that Rose is accepting it more.
But I think that it's one of those cases, which maybe I even saw within my own family, when I decided to be an actor, and my parents had nothing connected to the world of entertainment. Even though they were so scared, and they said from the get-go, please, you need to get a graduate degree, so that if you want to teach, you're going to teach.
As the years went on, they came to visit sets, and they said, 'These are kind of exciting places, and this is sort of a unique opportunity, and who are all these strange actors?'
I sense that Rose doesn't necessarily have any of that concretely yet that we've seen, but I think she recognizes that her daughter's path is actually inspiring her own path. That's my private take.
How Rose and Abe Are Aging
We've seen how Rose and Abe are getting older. Life is changing. How do you see them navigating that next time of their lives?
I wondered if they were going to let us jump time, so we actually could have more of an evolved understanding of what happens with them. I don't know yet, because you know we're just starting to shoot the next season.
"I think Rose and Abe are ready for that time in which you turn around and look at the newer generation and say, okay, what do you have to offer to me that I can continue to grow?"
I'm not clear how much time they're going to allow us to jump. We might just pick up a week or two after where we left off in season four.
I'll answer it for Rose. I think that her daughter's path had repercussions that rippled out in a way that really touched everyone. That's one of the beautiful parts of the series; they took these eight or so other characters, besides the lead woman, and she touched our lives so much.
And even if it seemed like the first two years, I [as Rose] was so angry and at times, still get angry at her, I think she inspires me so much, and I think she does with her father, too. I think the greatest thing that I can also say as a real-life parent is that my son is so different from me.
I think Rose and Abe are ready for that time in which you turn around and look at the newer generation and say, okay, what do you have to offer to me that I can continue to grow? And I saw that with my own parents. There was something beautiful in that moment.
I think that's something that Midge's character has offered to her parents. Like, you're here to keep learning, guys. Stop getting stuck in your ways.
Do you think that Rose would have changed if her daughter hadn't started performing comedy and gotten divorced and all the other things? I mean, they've changed a lot in four seasons.
You're absolutely right. I think that that totally changed their lives, even though they didn't want to admit it first. So, yeah, I think that really altered them so much, and yet, they circle back as people into places of judgment.
The truth is that there are some habits that die hard, and some habits that don't die.
My mom is always reminding me, if I try and sort of move her into a new direction, sometimes she'll say, 'Listen, I'm not going to change that. I've been around for eighty-something years. This is what you get.' There are sides of Rose and Abe that are that way.
I'll give you another example. I want Rose — in her matchmaking business — to start going into the core of how all people's psyches are, to really understand the educational backgrounds of all of her clients.
The truth is — you'll see throughout the season — she looks at clients and decides, based on what they look like, who they should match up with. Part of me wants to go, are you kidding? That's a terrible way to be, and then I think about the possibility of a lot of dating services and dating sites: what's the first step that they have?
They look at each other, and they swipe right or left, right? The only reason I bring that up is I just think Rose is very evolved. But she circles back, at times, to places of her own touchpoint of safety, where she has not evolved as much as we all want her to.
The Joy of Playing Rose
What's your favorite part about playing Rose?
There's something that I've always loved about being an actor which is that I grew up in a family where I wanted to be a pleaser. I'm very close with my mom and dad, and I always wanted to make sure I was doing what was right and ethical and kind. For lack of a better term, 'the good girl.' And I love that Rose doesn't always do the 'right thing' that Marin would want her to do, and that she can be sort of self-involved.
I hesitated when I said that because I hate to say anything negative about her. I love that Rose has a strength of purpose of what she knows she wants sometimes that is so far removed from how I am able to express myself in life. I take, you know, days and days or months and months or years to go after something.
"I love that Rose has a strength of purpose of what she knows she wants sometimes that is so far removed from how I am able to express myself in life."
And Rose I think, on a moment's notice, will be like, I'm choosing my life. Nobody seems to be watching me or listening to me, so I need to just take care of myself. I think that that kind of self-care is something that I long for in my own life.
Also, that kind of strength of women is something I see in some of the older women in my life, like my dance teacher or the woman who ran my theater program, or my mother or my mother-in-law. These are women I was always drawn to.
All my best friends are the strongest women, and I am very nervous and insecure, and so I love that Rose is closer to those people I aspire to be than who I tend to define myself as.
Traveling Through Time on Television
How does it feel to know that you're filming the end? This is it; this is the end of this character?
It is so hard.
I don't want to lose that part of self that you get to have when you're playing another character, because the other character stretches you — that person who's not exactly you, but is part of you, that someone's writing for you.
Rachel really is the greatest young inspiration that I can imagine. This young woman, has been such a source of joy and love in my life.
Then there's Tony Shalhoub, who you can't say a negative thing about. I get to work with him. I get to hang out with him, learn from him. Then there's Amy [Sherman-Palladino, creator of and writer on the show] and Dan [Palladino, Amy's husband and a writer on the show]. Their brilliant writing and the smartness of those characters — I'm going to miss that speedy, smart, quick, and funny dialogue, you know? And then the whole rest of the cast…
Then there's another thing, which is time traveling. Part of the reason you become an actor I think is because we want to step away from where we are in our own life, right?
And I got to go back in New York history and see what once was in that city and see the beauty and the glory. And see the difficulty of what it was like to live there during that time. I'm going to miss that terribly, and I can only sort of really pray that they'll do some sort of a film. Ten years from now, let's see where Rose is, something like that, you know?
Right. Right. You can only hope.
I can only hope.