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Meet Our Winter Cover Star: Rachel Brosnahan

In the opening scene of I’m Your Woman, Rachel Brosnahan’s character, Jean, reclines on a lawn chair, resplendent in “bored housewife” ’70s glamour. Midday cocktail in hand, she’s wearing oversized shades and a Farrah Fawcett flip, and tugging at the price tag on a magenta feather-trimmed robe. She’s simply existing in the mundanity of everyday life until, a few hours later, a series of wild events turns her life upside down.

Like many of us this year, Jean has no choice but to summon her reserves of strength to survive what follows—in her case, it’s a life on the run with a baby in tow, but hey, the metaphor fits. “The isolation element of the film definitely hits different,” says Brosnahan. “I think it helps us feel more connected to Jean that she’s being forced into a moment of self-reflection, and that there’s this invisible, difficult-to- understand danger that feels omnipresent.”

Dress by Bottega Veneta; earrings by Cartier.

The actor is calling from an RV she’s sharing with her husband, actor Jason Ralph, and their Shiba Inu, Winston. She’s road-tripping back to her home in New York after visiting Los Angeles to film Yearly Departed, a comedy special in which she’ll dole out farcical eulogies for the year 2020 alongside some of the funniest women in film and television. “It feels like we’re all going to need to heal through collective laughter by the time this year is over,” she says.

Dress by Louis Vuitton; rings, bracelets, and earrings by BVLGARI.

Cell service is spotty in the California desert, but that doesn’t hold her back from regaling us with tidbits from the first leg of her journey, back in September—late-night firepits at the RV camp, a drive-by peek at Graceland, the rolling hills of Kentucky, a visit to Cadillac Ranch in Texas—it all feels like an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the sensation of a series in which Brosnahan stars as the titular housewife turned comedy star. “It’s an indescribable feeling to walk onto some of those sets; it feels like time travel,” she says. “You forget, when you walk onto our set in a building in Queens, that you’re not in the middle of Las Vegas or in a Miami hotel, and that makes everyone’s acting better. It allows us to focus on just knowing our words and showing up and hoping we can make you believe us.”

Full look and necklace by Dior; rings by Cartier; bracelets and earrings by BVLGARI.

As Brosnahan has become so closely associated with her Emmy-and Golden Globe-winning role that people expect her to be just like Midge Maisel in real life, it’s safe to say that the audience has fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. “Midge is someone who doesn’t know how to do anything at less than 150 percent, and I can relate to that. But apart from that, we’re really different. I’m an introvert, and I don’t think that Midge is an introvert by any stretch of the imagination,” she says.

Jacket and top by CHANEL; watch by Cartier; diamond necklace by Chopard; bracelet and gold necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Next season will find Midge in unfamiliar territory, as an uncharacteristic error in judgment leaves her blossoming career teetering on the verge of disaster at the end of season three. Due to the pandemic, production for season four has been pushed back to January. “This is the first [time] when I have no idea what’s in store for Midge,” she says. “I’m in the same place as everyone else, waiting to know what our writers are cooking up.” Rest assured the fabulous costumes will be back, though—Brosnahan shared a photo from a recent fitting on Instagram, captioned “Mask game strong. Hat game stronger,” while clad in an oversized, wide-brim felt stunner.

Dress by 4 Moncler Simone Rocha; diamond ring by Chopard; bracelets and rings by Cartier; necklace by BVLGARI.

Early next year, Brosnahan will head back to the ’60s to co-star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming Cold War drama The Courier. “One of the reasons I love period pieces is because, growing up, I loved fantasy books and movies that had a lot of world-building and allowed me to use my imagination to guide me to a world that felt really far away,” she says. “Period pieces do that. They give you the ability to dive a little deeper and to completely transform in a way that I find fun.”

Rachel Brosnahan
Dress and belt by Gucci; earrings, rings and bracelet by BVLGARI.

In The Courier, Brosnahan plays Emily Donovan, a female CIA operative central to the infiltration of the Soviet nuclear program. “I really loved the idea of bringing to life a woman who was trying to make a name for herself in the CIA,” she says. “Without giving too much away, I love that, despite the best of intentions, she lets her ambition and her ego get in the way, which feels like something I see a fair amount of with male characters.”

To embody the wide variety of women she’s played—from Emily to Midge to Jean to doomed sex worker Rachel Posner in House of Cards— Brosnahan dips into her talent for empathy. “I enjoy the challenge of trying to understand characters that feel very far away,” she says. “One of the things I loved most about I’m Your Woman, after reading the script, was that I didn’t understand Jean at all. The idea of spending a couple months trying to unpack who she was, who she is, and who she becomes was a very exciting challenge.”

Dress by Prada; earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels; rings and watch by Cartier; shoes by Manolo Blahnik.

Though it might not be immediately apparent, what all of these characters share is a uniquely feminine ability to thrive under pressure, to rise above expectations and do what’s least expected. In Jean’s case, “she discovered the power that was always inside of her all along, and isn’t afraid to wield it.” In Midge’s, she continuously creates space for herself in male-dominated worlds. You could say that Brosnahan self-actualizes through her characters. Or maybe they self-actualize through her. Either way, the results are absolutely marvellous.

Photography by Leeor Wild at The Canvas Agency
Styling by Petra Flannery at Two Management
Makeup by Rachel Goodwin at A-Frame Agency using Dior Makeup
Hair by David Stanwell at The Wall Group
Set Design by Victoria Foraker
Photo Assistant: Delilah Jesinkey