The Emmy-winning Mrs. Maisel star says Susie has to deliver for Midge in season 3, 'and it's terrifying.'
Small-time comedy manager Susie Meyerson (Alex Borstein) is in for a host of new experiences when The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returns for season 3. Not only will she hit the road with her star client Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) and singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), she’ll also start earning a steady income and getting a taste of the good life. “It’s the first time Susie’s ever been in a hotel that has a hallway,” notes Maisel showrunner Daniel Palladino. But will she add to her success by taking on a challenging new role — manager to demanding comedy megastar Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch)? EW talked to Borstein about what’s ahead for Susie, surviving the heat in Miami, and working with season 3 guest star Sterling K. Brown.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Susie was faced with a big decision at the end of last season, when Sophie Lennon asked Susie to become her manager. What can you preview about Susie’s arc this season?
ALEX BORSTEIN: Well, she’s on the road with Midge, and it’s kind of like do or die at this point. It’s almost like a love triangle — I’ve lured her away from Joel and her old life and promised this new life to her, and now I have to deliver, and it’s terrifying.
Why is it important for her to branch out a bit this season?
BORSTEIN: I think she realizes that you can’t be a one-trick pony, either as a performer or as a manager. You have to diversify and branch out to see if you can actually do this. But it is kind of biting off a little bit more than she can chew, and then having to scramble to keep herself afloat. Can she actually do this?
Sterling K. Brown joins the cast this season as Shy’s manager, Reggie. What is he like to work with, and how would you describe Reggie’s dynamic with Susie?
BORSTEIN: Well, we become lovers. [pause] Why is that so funny? No, he was great. The thing about this show that’s such a pleasure is that anyone who kind of comes in contact with it, everyone is such a pro and such a grown-up, like we’ve never had to deal with any morons on this show, or any young people. There’s no one who’s confused about why they’re there. Everyone’s just there to work and do it well. We’re never waiting for anyone, and Sterling just kind of fell into that beautifully… Our dialogue is so fast, and we move so fast on the set, and he didn’t miss a beat.
Is he an adversary for Susie?
BORSTEIN: He’s on Shy’s team, and I have to bring my best game when this guy is around. Susie definitely wants to impress this guy and not look like she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s always worried, too, about who’s on whose team, and is poaching a possibility? It’s not adversarial, but they have an interesting relationship.
How would you describe working with Jane Lynch, and what does Susie really think of Sophie Lennon?
BORSTEIN: There are similarities in a sense, with Susie being given this opportunity by Sophie and then also Alex working with Jane. Susie sees that this is a bright woman. Susie sees that this woman is capable and quite talented, and regardless of how she’s chosen to cash in and make her money in the comedy world, she’s good and she knows how to deliver and she’s created this persona whether you like it or not. She’s kind of a master in the field and Susie recognizes that. Similarly, having Jane Lynch on the set — I’ve met her before, years and years ago we did some live little theater pieces, we were on the same bill and whatnot. But this was the first time we really worked together, and it’s the same feeling. You kind of know, like, “Oh, wow, this woman knows her s—,” and working with someone on that level makes you better. You have to bring your A game.
Midge is a white woman who will be opening for a black star, and certainly 1959 isn’t the most progressive timeframe in American history. How will race factor into the story?
BORSTEIN: It can’t help but factor in, just with the fact of this character being African-American, especially during this time… The ‘50s, these years, ’57, ’58, ’59 and into the ’60s were so different for every class of people. From Jewish-Americans like the Maisel family versus Jewish families of immigrants, like my family. It’s such a different experience. And a completely different experience for African-Americans, too. I think it’s cool, I really like that we kind of tackle it in a really natural way. We’re not really commenting on it, we’re just saying here’s what it is. Here’s Midge all of a sudden entering this [situation], and Midge’s eyes being opened.
You shot part of this season on location in Miami — how was that?
BORSTEIN: Hot. Thankfully everything that was scripted for Susie was exactly how I felt. It was hot, there were mosquitos everywhere. I like to say that Miami was great from 7:30 p.m. until 6 a.m. That’s when it was doable for me. I would go out and go swimming at midnight, that’s when it was perfect, when there was no blaring sun and sunscreen needed.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3 premieres Friday, Dec. 6 on Amazon Prime Video.
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