Imagine if The Godfather trilogy were told from the perspective of Diane Keaton’s Kay Adams-Corleone. What would her side of the story look like? The answer might be something akin to I’m Your Woman. In it, Rachel Brosnahan stars as a gangster’s wife forced into a life on the run with her infant child. While on the surface the character may seem like a far cry from Brosnahan’s Miriam “Midge” Maisel, both women share a wild determination to survive—and thrive—at all costs. For our annual Best Performances issue, the two-time Golden Globe winner discusses her daily fears and ideal costars.
You are blonde in I’m Your Woman. Did that help define the character?
The movie takes place in the ’70s, and we wanted to make sure I could disappear into the character of Jean. This is a woman who shops out of catalogs, who's trying to present herself as the quintessential housewife. And then little by little, as the film goes on, all of that stuff gets stripped away. And we really just see Jean. Also, blonde is my natural hair color, and I’d never been blonde onscreen. It seemed like a fun way to transform.
In the movie, your character has an infant son. In real life, you don’t have children, but you do have two exceptionally well-trained dogs. Did your expertise with dogs help you with the babies on set?
That's funny. I hadn't thought about it that way, but I guess babies, like dogs, are living their lives. They don't know that they're in a movie; they're just existing moment to moment. That keeps you honest. It was really important to Julia Hart, our director, as a mom, to depict babies as people onscreen. They're played by twins. We hardly ever used a fake baby, although we had to for certain scenes for safety, but it was really important to her that these babies were a character in the film, that it's the two of them against the world when they go on the run. Babies cry; they can feel the emotional life of their mothers. And Jean is stressed. She's scared. And they can feel that from her.
Is there anything that scares you?
I feel like I'm scared all the time! That feels encouraging, though, because it means that I'm continuing to take risks and learn and grow. That's always absolutely petrifying, but I feel like the exercise over the last couple of years, especially, has been to learn to be motivated by that fear rather than paralyzed by it. But, yeah. I'm scared of acting. I'm scared of drowning. I'm scared of the dark. I don’t like spiders, cockroaches, mice.
And yet you love the show Survivor, which thrives on those elements.
Yes. I’m trying to absorb the courage through the screen.
Could you eat bugs in the wilderness?
Remains to be seen. Stay tuned.