LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan said her new movie, I'm Your Woman, has one similarity to her acclaimed series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Both deal with the character she plays taking a more active role in their lives, but that is where the similarities end.
"I'm definitely attracted to projects about women finding themselves and their voices," Broshnahan said during a Zoom panel for AFI Fest. "This was a brand-new journey down that same path."
I'm Your Woman stars Brosnahan as Jean, a criminal's wife in the '70s. Jean's husband, Eddie (Bill Heck), kidnaps a baby for them to raise. When Eddie betrays his partners, they come looking for Jean, so she has to flee with the baby in tow.
Brosnahan said she's used to traveling back in time via her performances. Mrs. Maisel takes place in the '50s. On the show, Midge Maisel (Brosnahan) is a '50s housewife who becomes a star in standup comedy clubs.
In I'm Your Woman, Jean's independence doesn't come from fame or business success. She merely must come out from under Eddie's shadow to survive. Brosnahan said her collaboration with hair, makeup and wardrobe departments transformed her into a totally different woman.
"It was so nice to put on literally a completely different skin, in a way," Brosnahan said. "It was fun to be able to catch Jean's reflection in a mirror during certain scenes and not recognize myself."
Co-writer and director Julia Hart said the character of Jean was inspired by the women of movies like The Godfather and Thief. Hart said Diane Keaton and Tuesday Weld, respectively, had great characters, but were not involved with the action in those films. Hart wanted to center a movie around characters like them.
"I would always want to know what happened to her," Hart said. "I would want to see that movie. Where is she going? What's going to happen to her? How is she going to survive?"
The title comes from Thief, too. In the Michael Mann film, Weld's character tells James Caan's, "I'm your woman and you're my man." Weld also plays the significant other of a thief, whose criminal record prevents them from qualifying for adoption, even after he's gone straight.
"I just felt a connection to Tuesday Weld's character in Thief," Brosnahan said.
I'm Your Woman also was Broshanan's first time working with a baby, she said. On Mrs. Maisel, her character has toddlers, but Brosnahan said working with infants was new territory.
Brosnahan noted that the twins who played Jean's son wouldn't follow stage directions. In one scene, Brosnahan and director Julia Hart had to adjust to the infant actor falling asleep during a scene.
"The entire scene then became about genuinely not waking up a sleeping baby," Brosnahan said. "It changed the whole thing and brought this electricity into the space."
The actor credited the spontaneity of the babies with improving her performance. Brosnahan said the babies kept her honest by forcing her to be in the moment in her performance.
"You're never as present as when you're holding a living, breathing baby who you can feel physically responding to your emotional state," Brosnahan said.
Another challenge of I'm Your Woman for Brosnahan was driving vehicles appropriate for the period. Broshnahan said she's learned to drive cars from many different decades in the various period pieces in which she has appeared.
In Jean's world, she didn't even drive when she was with Eddie. Without him, Brosnahan felt being in control of Jean's escape vehicle increased her character's sense of agency.
"There's a shot at some point in the movie where I had to drive up a very steep road," Brosnahan said. "I was just going, 'I hope everyone's out of the way.' It did feel very freeing."
I'm Your Woman premieres Friday on Amazon Prime.