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‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Star Michael Zegen on Exploring Joel’s Future in Season 5

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5.]

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel delivered one of its biggest twists to date in its final season, jumping back and forth through time to offer a peek into many of the characters’ lives, including Midge’s (Rachel Brosnahan) former mister, Joel (Michael Zegen).

The actor had quite the shock when he learned where Joel would end up — behind prison bars. Ultimately, we learn that he landed there for his involvement with the mob, a move that was made in order to protect Midge and her profits. After learning that a portion of Midge’s earnings were going to Susie’s (Alex Borstein) associates, Joel stepped in and took over the cost to keep his ex-wife clean. In doing this, Joel’s entire livelihood was tainted by mob pay-offs and dicey tax records. His admission of guilt and truth-telling to Midge is also the catalyst behind her, and Susie’s falling out this season. Below, Zegen opens up about learning Joel’s future fate, weighs in on Joel and Midge’s relationship, and talks about exploring that complicated dynamic with Susie.

What was your initial reaction to the direction of Joel’s story this season?

To be honest, I just kind of play it by ear and get the scripts as they come to me. It’s not like I knew anything that was happening prior to getting these scripts. But the truth is, since it’s the last season, I just want it to be surprised. I just like to be surprised, and Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino] write as they go along anyway, so things change, but that being said, it was very shocking [to learn about Joel’s story].

(Credit: Prime Video)

The whole prison thing definitely came out of left field. I had no idea that that was gonna happen, but it was really cool and different. That’s what you want as an actor and as an audience member, to be honest. Finding out why he ended up in prison — which I didn’t even find out till after we filmed that scene — just speaks to Joel’s character. I feel like Amy and Dan are constantly trying to give him redeemable qualities after the initial first episode of the entire series. The fact that he’s looking out for Midge and basically sacrificing himself for her and the kids.

People have ideas about who Midge should be with, ultimately, she and Joel aren’t together — if the flash-forward sequences are any indication — but are his actions proof that they’re each other’s “person,” do you think?

I mean, they’re one of the “ones.” A lot of people keep asking me “are Joel and Midge getting together at the end? Are they gonna end up together?” And I never really saw that. I get where they’re coming from, but it was the kind of thing where it didn’t work out. They got married really young. They had kids really young. Joel felt very stuck. He was in this dead-end job and that’s why he had to blow up his life. And that’s why everything happened after that. I mean, his leaving her was really the catalyst for everything that took place for every character.

It was this thing that had a domino effect where all these characters found something else they were supposed to do in life. Joel was no exception. As far as them being together, I think they’re just better off on their own separate paths. They’re always gonna be in each other’s lives because they have kids together and then they still have this love for each other. I think she just loved him, and he was one of the “ones.” Maybe they are the great loves in each other’s lives, but then again, I think so was Susie for Midge.

Joel and Susie have always had an interesting dynamic, and his prison time ultimately ties back to that. What was it like getting to explore the future for the first time in the series?

I loved it. It was a huge shock when I found out about it. But finding out why he was in prison made it all worthwhile. Selfishly I just really liked getting into the makeup and seeing what I could potentially look like 20 years from now. The makeup was unreal for everybody. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I saw Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor. That’s part of the joy of acting, getting to play these other characters and to play a character that’s, you know, much older.

I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I’ve always played younger. So getting to do that was really special. And getting more scenes with Alex is always something I look forward to because Susie and Joel really do have a great dynamic. I think they’re very similar, they get each other and they share the same love for Midge. They should be better friends than they are.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 5, New Episodes, Fridays, Prime Video

This story originally appeared on TV Insider

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