The comedian jumped at the chance to join Amy Sherman-Palladino’s critically acclaimed comedy series.
When Amy and Dan Sherman-Palladino call, you answer. For comedian Will Vought, he jumped at the chance to work on the third season of Amazon’s awards juggernaut, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. In the whirlwind premiere episode, Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge Maisel performs at a USO show before her tour with Shy Baldwin kicks off. Vought’s Major Buck Brillstein emcees the show, and he makes quite the impression as he works the crowd.
Vought has such a diverse resume, but I’m sure you have seen him in more things than you remember. What’s great about Vought joining Maisel is that he’s a natural showman and he is at home in front of a microphone. He even feels like a character transported from the late 1950’s into this exquisite world of comedy. He fits right in. Combine that with the fact that Vought has been doing stand-up for so long, and you will find the perfect kind of actor to integrate into the Sherman-Palladino streaming universe.
Awards Daily: Your resume is very eclectic. You’ve done stage work and then you’re in more serious stuff like Revolutionary Road. Do you seek out different things on purpose?
Will Vought: Sometimes they just come to you. In the sense of Revolutionary Road, I was working on something else and someone saw me dancing. I got a call, and it was one of those calls that you think is a prank. It was like, ‘Hey! What are you doing for the next few months? Sam Mendes is doing this thing and somebody’s dead, and Leonardo DiCaprio is in it and Kate Winslet is in it!’ That’s how that manifested. That just came. I didn’t seek it out. I learned how small these performances can be. It’s quite the intense story, as you know, so I haven’t revisited it. With Aladdin, I didn’t have any musical theater training. I’m not a 5-6-7-8 kind of dancer. I have so much respect for dancers, so they told me it was a musical. That was a lot of fun. I guess I can do a lot of different things.
AD: That helps.
WV: It does. I was talking with Amy Sherman-Palladino about this last night. As an actor, sometimes it’s about getting the opportunity to do something. The fact that I was given a chance to enter the world as the Genie or the world that Sam Mendes created. I was given the opportunity to enter Amy and Dan’s world of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It’s born from their imagination and you’re a piece of all of this. That’s to their credit. It’s almost an invitation—do you want to come play with us?
AD: Everything in that show is so exquisite, but this third season really opens it up because we go to so many places. What was the energy on that stage like?
WV: As Rachel has been saying—I believe she said it on The Today Show—the energy was insane. Production broke a record here in New York for the number of background actors used. I think, it was something over 850 or 860. It was like we were filming Star Wars! For anybody who watches the season premiere, it feels like a film. It doesn’t feel like a series. The scope of the production of having almost 900 background actors giving you everything they’ve got. . .you could feel the energy coming at you! We were working on that sequence for a week.
AD: Just that sequence?
WV: Yeah, so any day we could have hundreds of background actors who were just so generous and on point. And as Amazon says, you will have to wait and see!
AD: Yes, we will! You get to do some drag performing, too.
WV: Do I?
AD: Yes, don’t worry people will have seen it by the time this goes up. (Laughs)
WV: I did. After a screening, I was having dinner with a friend, and it feels like any comedian ends up in drag at some point. That’s sketch comedy. Everybody did that. Bob Hope did it. The way it’s presented, the way it’s written—I don’t know if it is perfectly acted. . .
WV: It looks incredible. When you’re looking at yourself in drag, you see yourself and think, ‘Oh!’ But what I did love is that there was a truck with about 150 bouquets of flowers. You don’t know how many times we were going to have to whack that kid. I pulled him aside and asked what his thoughts were on me hitting him with the flowers, and he told me to go for it. Marco [Torriani] was his name, and I love that guy. He told me to just smash him over the head. We got it pretty quick. (Laughs)
AD: You could’ve just kept messing up in order to keep smacking him with flowers. . .
WV: You’re right. Well, I have to tell you that the outfit was super comfortable. . .
AD: Oh, I’m sure.
WV: I have some stuff of me getting made up in drag that I’m saving for after the premiere.
AD: That has to change your body and everything.
WV: As soon as you put on the shoes. . .that hat shows the specificity of what the Palladinos want. There’s a reason that this show is so critically acclaimed. That hat that I’m wearing is part of an estate that the costume designer viewed from a woman in Italy from the 1920’s. This woman was purging her closet. That thing is from Florence from 1920!
AD: Oh my god. . .
WV: I know! You can’t put on a double D bra and not start to be informed with how your body moves.
AD: Did you want be part of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because of your background in stand-up or did you want to join the cast because of the Palladinos?
WV: That’s a great question. As a comedian, I have done stand-up for many years. I enjoyed the show as a fan. Any comedian is going to tell you right off the bat that what’s going on and what has happened in the first two seasons, that this is a monumental moment in time with Lenny Bruce. My middle name is actually Bruce.
AD: Oh, nice!
WV: My grandfather was obsessed with Lenny Bruce, and so I was blown away by these performances. Rachel is an actress and she is playing a comedian and she is killing it! As a stand-up comic, I know how hard it is to nail that kind of timing. That’s the first thing I told her. I would have never known she hadn’t done stand-up before. Selfishly, as an actor, any chance to work with Amy Sherman-Palladino. . .is an actor’s dream come true. I said to her the other night that there is so much talent out there, and to be invited into this world is such a joyful opportunity. To your point, I never searched out. It just comes with synchronicity. The shows I’ve done just happen to move the needle.
AD: When you do something that is so specific, did you want to do some research on the USO tours or anything related to this time in comedy?
WV: Amy’s writing is so specific that it just is. You can visualize the world. With what’s going on in this moment on the show with the tour, I did take it upon myself to watch stuff. Everything is available on YouTube—which is phenomenal. This season takes place in 1959, so you’re talking about the cusp of entering a new decade. What’s the tone here? Also, very specific style of comedy and delivery that isn’t like what it is now. Buck Brillstein is kind of a Garry Marshall wannabe. He’s in the Army, and he wants to be the fun guy. I’m sure his dream was always to be a sketch performer and sing songs and tell jokes that don’t always work. He’s kind of living his dream. I did watch a lot of video, but the script informed me. It’s all there in the writing.
AD: There’s a running joke throughout this third season about Susie getting Midge a ‘weird ask’ in her contract. If you could have one of those, how weird would you go, and what would it be?
WV: Oh. . .that’s a very good question. What would I ask for. . .
AD: The sky’s the limit, Will.
WV: I usually ask for, like, Pellegrino water or I’d like to have an espresso machine. If I had to go crazy, I would want a masseuse there upon arrival! With a table set up. I want to make sure they have a Spotify Premium, because you don’t want your massage interrupted with commercials which has happened about 4 or 5 minutes in. I would also like aroma-scented candles from Anthropologie. I don’t know who has used that trailer before me! I would also like to be greeted. . .upon arrival. Do you remember in Shrek when they are throwing things in the air as they enter? And everyone is like, ‘WELCOME! WELCOME!’ But keep it all inside, you know?
AD: Subtle grandstanding is what you’d want?
WV: That’s right! And unlike those high-maintenance performers, give me that eye contact. Lay it on me.
The third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is streaming now.