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10 Quick Questions for Tony Shalhoub

As father to ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ he gets awards for being cranky

portrait of Tony Shalhoub

Keith Barraclough

 

After decades in the entertainment industry — onstage and on screens large and small — the award-winning Tony Shalhoub has never really stopped having a moment. Now in the fourth season of Amazon’s period comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Shalhoub’s Abe Weissman is getting a spotlight of his own.

Let’s talk about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Describe Abe in a sentence or two.

This season I would describe him as going through a major midlife shift and coming out on the other side smelling like a rose, no pun intended. [Abe’s wife’s name is Rose.] With his position at The Village Voice, he has more freedom, his instincts and his creativity are valued and encouraged and fostered.

 

Tony Shalhoub as Abe Weissman with Rachel Brosnahan as his daughter Midge in a still from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Sarah Shatz/Amazon/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Shalhoub plays Abe Weissman, the father of housewife-turned comic Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) in 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.'

Have you learned anything about reporters over the years that Abe can put to good use in his new job at the newspaper?

I’m the theater critic, so I kind of get my revenge on all the times I got bad reviews in my life — and there were many.

 

Bad reviews notwithstanding, you have four Emmys, a Tony and many more nominations. Where do you keep those statues?

They’re all in my closet right now. They’re usually a little more prominently placed, but we had a wedding in our apartment. Because of COVID, we volunteered our place to my niece Rachel. It was obviously a small gathering, but I thought it might be kind of tacky and didn’t want to steal her thunder. So we just kind of moved the statues away from the center of the mantel and into a closet, and we never restored it. So we’re ready for more weddings, if you know anyone.

 

Speaking of COVID, how would your popular character from TV’s Monk, with his severe OCD, have handled the pandemic?

We actually did a PSA [public service announcement] about a year and a half ago when COVID was first ramping up — the writers put together a piece which we shot in my apartment. My wife [actress Brooke Adams] shot it and directed it. We had the cast members on Zoom, and Monk was, as you can imagine, in very rough shape.

 

And you and your wife both had COVID. How did you fare?

It was a challenging couple of weeks. It was before everybody kind of knew what the long-term effects were or how long the symptoms would last or even what the symptoms would end up being. There wasn’t much doctors could do for us other than just say, “Get rest. Drink a lot of fluids. Steer clear of other people.” We came through without having to be hospitalized.

 

Who’s your favorite person to do a scene with on Maisel?

This past season, I did get to work with Jason Alexander again. He comes back — he and Abe go way back to their college days so they have a really interesting, complicated relationship, which we learn a lot more about in Season 4. It’s never a dull moment.

 

What was your last TV binge?

We just finished the final season of [the Netflix Spanish crime drama] Money Heist. I just became obsessed with the cast and the writing. I just thought it was phenomenal. I never wanted it to end, but they did wrap it up beautifully.

 

What do you wish most would return to normal?

Theater. We are in New York, so we’ve been to the theater several times. But it’s not quite the same. I long to have the freedom to be chatting during intermission and interacting and going backstage. As an actor and as an audience member, that’s an important component to it all. And not just the backstage part of it, but the going out after and the schmoozing with the people you’ve seen.

 

Tell us about Rachel Brosnahan, who plays Mrs. Maisel.

Rachel is our leader. We all take our cues from Rachel. She always brings levity and grace and humor to it. I just love her presence, her level of appreciation that she has for the position that we’re in, the good fortune that we have to be a part of this piece. I really wish that I had had that kind of confidence and courage when I was her age.

 

What would you tell your 20-something self?

Focus on the work at hand and try not to worry about the future too much. It will unfold as it’s supposed to. Enjoy it. That’s the thing that Rachel brings to it, this kind of relish. If she has anxiety or worry about it, she certainly is not showing her hand at all. She just carries it off so beautifully.


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