From the moment they shared their first scene in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s pilot episode, Midge Maisel and Lenny Bruce have had a magnetic connection. Over the course of the last 4 seasons, Midge and Lenny’s lives have continued to intersect. They finally acted on their undeniable chemistry in the season 4 finale. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Luke Kirby about Lenny’s feelings for Midge.
“I think his feelings for her were born in the beginning,” Luke said. “They meet in a car, and she’s already glowing with a vitality that is impressive and aligned with his idea of the truth. I do think that that scene that they have together at the bar in season 2 before he goes to do The Steve Allen Show, there is something so comforting in her telling him her reality of being a parent. I think because Lenny has a kid at that time and sort of balancing all that comes with that, I think there’s something there that made him feel a kind of warmth that he wanted to lean into more with her. If I could kind of mark anywhere in their storyline I would say that might be something… might be something worth revisiting.”
Luke acknowledged the “chemistry” that’s been simmering between Lenny and Midge from the very beginning. “It’s just that mysterious thing that we all know exists,” he noted. “It’s got to be some kind of pheromone, but I do think that… maybe they don’t start as two trains running side by side, but she’s got a lot of steam in her and is fast approaching, and I think he appreciates the occasional glance and seeing her catching up on the tracks across from him and sort of delights in seeing a kind of similarity and a simpatico and maybe hopes in some ways that she’s got more steam in the tank than he does and can supersede it. I don’t know. That’s what I tell myself anyways.”
The Emmy winner added, “I had the privilege of having Rachel [Brosnahan] across from me in almost every scene I did, and so that really always, for whatever reason, managed to just anchor me right down into whatever moment we were having to play. It just felt, most of the time, seamless. It didn’t feel like we were having to invent anything and neither did we have to deny anything. We could just be open to being in that space together.”
Following their rendezvous in that “very blue” room, Lenny confronted Midge after his Carnegie Hall concert about turning down gigs. Luke revealed what he thinks will come from Lenny’s strong words to Midge. “I don’t know that he has any sense that anything will come to it. I think he’s smarter than that, but I do think that his words are true,” Luke told HollywoodLife. “You know, it’s that thing of when you see something in someone and you just yearn to ring their bell in the best way possible, and I think that’s all he’s trying to do in that moment. In some ways, I think at the end of that scene, he’s left the ball in her court because it’s always been in her court. That’s the point of what he’s saying. It’s up to her to embrace what is within her and not to lose sight of it by living in her imagination and making up grand designs that are only going to interfere with what’s already there. She just needs to get to work and sweat it out. So I think he hopes that she’ll listen, but I don’t think he knows how that would go.”
From the start, fans have wondered if The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will address Lenny Bruce’s death, which happened in 1966. Luke explained that Lenny’s role in the show has never stuck strictly to what happened in real life. Clearly, because Midge Maisel is a fictional character, even though we all wish she was real.
“I really felt liberated from having to adhere to any kind of chronological order,” the actor said. “I didn’t have to play him in that regard. It wasn’t like we were playing a biopic. He’s a real person inside of a fiction. From the very beginning, I read him as a fairy godmother. He appears in moments that she needs him most. That felt right for most of the show. As the season went on, he kind of came down to earth a little bit more and I’m happy for that, but I never felt burdened with responsibility. My impression of Lenny in terms of how I interpreted him is that he was a real lover, that love was important, that affection for humanity was really important, a person who was able to embrace dynamism and encourage human growth. Those things were very much a presence in how I got to know him. I hope that we brought — not that specifically — but that energy to him.”
Lenny and Midge will cross paths again in the fifth and final season, which premieres on April 15. Luke is only a guest star in season 5, so HollywoodLife asked if the photo that’s been released of the two of them is their final goodbye. “I’m not one to sort of commit to goodbyes, so you’re asking the wrong fella,” he quipped.