Thanks to a recent large purchase, I qualified for 30 days of complimentary Amazon Prime streaming service. This allowed me to search for the episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which I've worked on. Because I hadn't made note of exactly which episodes these were, I relied on shooting dates, memory, luck, and, most of all, the power of fast-forwarding.
By and large, I succeeded. Of all my appearances, there were only two that I either couldn't find, or never made the final cut. (My first time, on Maisel's pilot episode and initially free to all, was dissected here.) I'm particularly sorry that my second appearance was nowhere to be found because, as a 1950s Midtown pedestrian, I wore a great suit, overcoat, and of course, fedora -- an outfit that I was not only born for, but will probably be buried in.
But that was before I found my niche in the role of Garment Worker, which has been my Maisel bread & butter ever since. (Once you're established as a particular character, even in the background, it's yours for good.) Initially, we shot episodes in a real, old-school garment factory in Brooklyn, with many of its employees also in the scenes.
|Me on the far right, stumbling to my work table while|
trying to keep a straight face as Kevin Pollack barks
My glasses were considered too contemporary, so I had to make do walking around while praying I wouldn't bump into any of the principal actors. Fortunately, rehearsals allowed me to wear glasses in order to get an idea of what the hell I was doing.
Rehearsals were also handy in order for me to get used to Kevin Pollack's hilarious delivery, since I would inevitably laugh as he ranted at the top of his lungs in his role as Moishe Maisel, the factory boss. By the time we were ready to actually shoot the scene, I was able to play it straight.
|"Is that an RCA record player I see?"|
The only other scene I could find took place in Joel Maisel's apartment, which was shot at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. The apartment is supposed to be located right off one of the garment factory's floors. This part of the faux-factory was incredibly realistic, right down to the dust on the floor, calendars, and an old list of nearby brothels tacked on the wall -- stuff you might not notice, but which really make you feel like you're working in a '50s sweatshop.
This scene was the first time on Maisel where I was clearly visible. In it, Joel Maisel has invited the workers into his apartment for a brief celebration. I played it like it was my character's first time in the apartment, as I admired the stereo just off the entry. (The prop people gave me non-prescription, era-appropriate eyeglasses to wear.)
On the left, in a faux-apartment that plenty of real
New Yorkers would kill for.
I made my way to left of Joel Maisel (or, rather, actor Michael Zegen) as he made his celebratory announcement, and toasted the workers. Maybe I took the part too seriously, but I actually felt a class difference between the cool-looking, well-dressed actors playing Maisel's friends, and us workers, who were dressed in drab short-sleeve shirts (for men) and dowdy dresses (for women). I had to keep reminding myself, It's only a TV show. It's only a TV show.
The scene runs less than two minutes in its entirety, yet took two days to shoot, due to
the different angles required. Michael Zegen did a particularly good job on the second day, since he had come down with a cold (perhaps caused by the dust and herbal cigarettes permeating the set). That's the difference between a pro like him and a whiner like me. He can fake feeling good; I park myself on the couch and watch TCM while blowing my nose.
|Me on the right, toasting my good health.|
If you take a good look at the screengrab on the right, you'll see three guys in the left rear of the set. The one in the middle is my friend Sasha. We also appeared together in a scene of a previously-discussed episode of Madam Secretary as NATO diplomats. How far the mighty have fallen -- or how flexible background actors can be.