'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' star Stephanie Hsu on what she loved about her character Mei and her similarities with Midge
Speaking to MEA WorldWide in-studio, the actress describes what attracted her to the role, juggling her Broadway play and shooting for the show.
If you're one of those who binge-watched the third season of 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel', a new character might have caught your attention. Joel (Michael Zegen) has a new love interest, Mei Lin. Stephanie Hsu plays the mysterious Chinese woman who has connections to an illegal gambling ring underneath Joel's new club.
Speaking to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) in-studio, the actress describes what attracted her to the role, juggling her Broadway play and shooting for the show, creating the look for her character and whether Mei will return for season four.
Explaining about what attracted her to the script, Stephanie says, "At the time I was preparing for a show on Broadway and I was really focused on it. But then I read the script and thought it was unlike any character we've ever seen on TV before and certainly not for someone who is an Asian woman. The thing with Amy's writing is that you can really hear it off the page and I fell in love immediately."
Juggling between the Broadway play and shooting for 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' was also quite a challenge for her. "Pretty much the entire time we were shooting 'Maisel', I was also doing this show called 'Be More Chill,'" she reveals. Luckily for her, both the teams took care of each other to make the scheduling work. "I was taken care, both by Broadway and the Maisel team but it was definitely a hyper-focused year." After both shows released, she realized how tired she was.
Putting the spotlight on the similarities in the way Maisel was shot and directed as compared to Broadway, Stephanie says, "Amy and Dan are avid theater lovers," adding, "I like not only how they write but how they love an ensemble cast. The show is shot on steady cam in parts so there's a lot of dancing that happens. We rehearse quite a bit before we perform and the way the sets are built, they are meant to be playgrounds for you to practice, to really fill the space and fill the world. So, in a lot of ways, the two go hand-in-hand."
Stephanie admires her character, Mei, for being a "modern woman." Talking about the preparation for the part, she says, "It was very clear that they wanted to make Mei a modern woman. There was something very contemporary about her. Instead of using a Chinese 1950s look, they chose Audrey Hepburn as a source of inspiration. I felt this was the right direction to take. There is something very American about her."
Her character is also slowly developing into a new love interest for Joel. So we asked her if she found any similarities to Midge because Joel does seem to have a type? "Midge and Mei alike are strong modern women doing things that are unheard of during that time," she says, adding, "They are not afraid. They are tough cookies in their different ways"
On Joel's choice of women and his patriarchial thinking, she says: "There is a scene in season three where I really remember feeling for Joel when he talks about opening up the club. It is a window into a time in history that parallels a lot that is going in the society now. Joel is a character who has so many ideas told to him about how to be a man, a husband, a business owner should be. That can be confusing even if you have a good heart because the world is telling you to be a man and to comply with different versions of patriarchy."
"I saw him in a new light. He doesn't know what he's doing either," she adds.
Pointing out her favorite aspect about her character, she says, "One thing I love about Mei is that she really calls him out. That comes from the difference in where they come from, both in raising and culture and status. She is not afraid to tell him he is an outsider and doesn't know how it works here. She really checks his ego in a way that is really awesome and forces him to really consider his actions."
When asked if Mei returns to continue her storyline in season four, Stephanie nodded her head in glee. As the series is renewed for season four, there seems to be much more in the pipeline for her character.