Best Performances is TV Guide's Emmys video series highlighting the best acting performances of the year. Actors take viewers behind the scenes of their Emmy-nominated performances and explain the secrets of their craft.
Tony Shalhoub plays the most understanding dad, or at least a dad trying the hardest to be understanding, on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Abe Weissman just wants his daughter Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) to be happy, but he also wants her protected and well taken care of. He'd like to keep his sanity in the meantime, if possible.
By the end of the Amazon series' first season, Shalhoub takes Abe from quietly confused and frustrated to the brink of a nervous breakdown after his beloved study is relocated to the living room.
"I think what makes Episode 8 most interesting to me is that all through Season 1 Abe has had to deal with the ground shifting beneath his feet," Shalhoub explained as part of TV Guide's Best Performances video series. "In Episode 8, more and more curveballs are coming at him."
Those curveballs include the aforementioned study relocation and his wife not speaking to him. And that's before Midge says she's considering getting back with her estranged husband after their split caused Abe's life to implode. In the course of one scene, Shalhoub moves from shocked to angry to reserved before finally just exhausted and sad. It's a full carnival of emotions in one exchange, which is something that Shalhoub has personal experience with and channeled to bring Abe's crisis moment to life.
"In that particular scene where he sort of becomes unleashed, it was really amazing and liberating. I have two daughters that are around the age that Rachel's character is," Shalhoub revealed. "I've had these types of situations where you can only keep it bottled up for so long and then you have to blow."
The actor's versatility showcased in the episode helped to earn him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. So, it makes sense that what Shalhoub gets to do in that one scene is actually what he admires most about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as a whole — how it blends comedy and drama together seamlessly.
"All of these scenes are so beautifully crafted, and they're challenging for the actors, which is what makes them so rich," he said. "There's a level of truth to this writing, whether its really super comedic or whether it gets poignant and emotional, it comes from a real place. Once you commit, it's almost like the material plays itself."
The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Monday, Sept. 17 at 8/7c on NBC. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is currently streaming on Amazon.