Why Rachel Brosnahan Avoids Clapback Culture on Social Media Even Though It's "Tempting"

Claire Harmeyer
·6-min read

Robyn Beck, Getty Images

In an era where every picture, caption, and story celebrities post on social media is met with scrutiny—and often internet trolls' harsh criticism—it'd be easy for stars to get caught up in those negative conversations. And while some celebs like Chrissy Teigen and Lili Reinhart choose to consistently shut down haters (rightfully and skillfully, we might add), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan says she steers clear of social media drama—even though she admits it can often be hard to resist.

"We’ve embraced a kind of mean-spiritedness and clapback culture on social media—and sometimes, that’s tempting," Brosnahan tells HelloGiggles over a recent Zoom call. "I’ve definitely been tempted to call people out who are rude or stupid or ignorant, but you never know what someone is going through."

"It feels so easy to be cruel through a computer screen, but it can cause really irreparable harm—and by the same token, a simple act of kindness over the internet can make someone’s day or week or even their year."

—Rachel brosnahan

The 30-year-old often uses her social media platforms to support causes like BLM and Covenant House, a nonprofit that helps homeless youth. Most recently, she's been urging her followers to vote in the upcoming election—even auctioning off the "lovingly dubbed 'fashion pajamas'" she and her husband, actor Jason Ralph, wore to the 2020 Emmys to support When We All Vote, a nonprofit that aims to boost voter participation. "When are we ever going to get to be that comfortable at an awards show again?" Brosnahan recalls of the virtual event.

During quarantine, the actress (who stars in the upcoming crime film I'm Your Woman, premiering on Amazon Prime in December) has stayed in the New York City apartment she shares with Ralph and their two dogs. On our call, sitting with an exposed brick wall and large bookshelf behind her, Brosnahan tells me they've binged "too many seasons of Survivor" and recently started another survivalist reality show, Alone. "It’s completely bananas but really amazing and inspiring, too—it’s a little bit of an escape into a different kind of crazy," she explains, laughing. "Now, I really need to know how to start a fire without matches and I want to make a basket out of trees; I’m all in now—I need to move to the woods."

Perhaps Brosnahan would survive in the wild, but the character who scored her an Emmy and two Golden Globes, Mrs. Maisel's Midge, would be a different story. The 1950s housewife-turned-comedian follows an absurdly elaborate beauty regimen that's definitely not tent-friendly. And, it turns out, it couldn't be further from Brosnahan's own skincare routine IRL. The star, who became the first celebrity face of Cetaphil in 2019, reveals that she's been using the same two products since she was 16: the Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion and Gentle Skin Cleanser. "I’ve always had really sensitive skin and the thing that helps keep it calm is being consistent with a routine that I trust," she explains.

Brosnahan says she typically likes to keep her beauty routine low-key to accommodate her busy schedule, but she's taken advantage of the downtime in quarantine by indulging in "luxurious" habits, like "getting out of the shower, using the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream all over my body, and getting to just hang out for a minute and enjoy that."

"Using skincare as a way to literally wash off the stress of the day has been an important thing for me during this time," she says.

While quarantine has allowed Brosnahan to amp up her standard beauty routine, it has also presented new skincare challenges, like maskne. But luckily, the actress found a hack that has made a "night and day [difference] from the beginning of quarantine until now: carrying the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths wherever she goes. "That’s been really helpful," she says. "Every few hours, I’ll wipe along the part of my face that’s covered by a mask if I’m outside somewhere safe and can let my mask down for a second. I haven't experienced maskne since."

As someone who's typically constantly on the go filming different projects, Brosnahan says that getting to practice self-care and spend quality time at home this year has been refreshing—and necessary. "I discovered a box under my stairs that's here from when I moved into this apartment four years ago," she reveals. "I’m on the road a lot and I live out of a suitcase a lot, so it was very cathartic to unpack that last box." Also on her list of rejuvenating quarantine activities? At-home yoga with Ralph, birthday zoom celebrations, and dog snuggles paired with glasses of wine.

Like with many TV shows, production of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 is on hold indefinitely due to the pandemic, but in late September, Brosnahan returned to set for a costume fitting. "It’s hard to describe how it felt to be back on our stages even just for a minute," she says. "Just to be able to see some of the folks that I haven’t seen since we finished shooting last season was really special." The star acknowledges how different the atmosphere on set felt due to new COVID safety guidelines, noting, "Everyone was behind many layers of gear, but that’s what’s necessary for us to get to be together again."

As fans know, the costumes on Mrs. Maisel are no joke: velvet hats, satin gloves, and an endless rotation of brightly colored coats have earned the show's designer, Donna Zakowska, three Emmy nominations and one win over the first three seasons. "It’s so fun because it’s so transformative—I don’t dress anything like that in my real life," Brosnahan explains (on our call, she's wearing a collared dress in the same shade as my emerald green shirt, and she exclaims "we match!" when we start talking). "The minute I put on those beautiful clothes and the hair and the makeup," she adds, "I feel like I’ve stepped into another person and I’ve been able to completely transform."

Another aspect of Mrs. Maisel that allows Brosnahan to "act from head to toe"? The raw energy present when the cast films scenes on the streets of New York City. "[Last season], we were shooting outside in Times Square at like 9 p.m. on a Wednesday, and it was wild," she recalls. "People were yelling down from windows of hotels and gathering around to watch us shoot—that kind of energy can’t be replicated."

"We get reminded what a special project we’re on when we get to shoot outside in New York City," she continues. "When we get to bring these characters and this world off of our stages and out into the real world, it’s such a strange collision of these two very different worlds—it’s incredible."

Our fingers are crossed that Brosnahan and the rest of the Mrs. Maisel cast and crew are able to safely bring this colorful world back to our screens soon—before the actress decides to pack up and rough it in the woods for good.