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.
Sometimes the people who are the hardest on you are the people who care about you the most. That's what Alex Borstein spent over half a season trying to prove to Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) as Susie Myerson on Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Susie sees Midge's raw talent as a stand-up comedienne and decides to take her on as a client, but Borstein had the task of showing the audience what happens when professional relationships go sideways.
"What's fun about Episode 5 is that you kind of see the adversarial relationship between Susie and Midge," Borstein explained for TV Guide's Best Performances video series. "There's so much love and they're such advocates for each other that it's almost like Rocky and his trainer. Susie pushes her and pushes her and [Midge] breaks a little, but she comes out stronger."
In fact, to portray the challenging relationship Borstein thought of it like a romantic love triangle, especially when it came to pulling Midge away from her ex-husband.
"It's interesting because the core of some of the drama and the stuff that plays out between Susie and Midge [is] something you might see on another show as a love triangle," Borstein explained. "It's not a love triangle, but it is in a way that she's clinging to something she thinks she needs and I'm this other presence saying, 'You need me and this is how we're going to make this together.'"
That metaphor extends to the end of Episode 5, titled "Doink," which is what Borstein has submitted for Emmy consideration after being nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Susie realizes her gamble with Midge might pay off, and although Borstein doesn't have any lines in the heartbreaking final scene, her staring contest with Susie's new telephone says it all.
"I think of that quiet telephone moment as the engagement ring. It was the breakup," Borstein explained. "We had a breakup there and this was kind of like a woman staring at her engagement ring. It was kind of nice to be able to challenge yourself to be able to kind of emote something without rambling on."
That scene helped show Susie's heart, which is what Borstein was hoping for most.
"Some of the most vicious people that could just cut you open with a line are also the biggest hearted and the most damaged in some way. Those are just the most fun roles to play," she said.
The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Monday, Sept. 17 at 8/7c on NBC. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is currently streaming on Amazon.