Marin Hinkle may be most recognizable as the ex-wife to John Cryer’s neurotic Alan on the long-running Two and a Half Men, but now she does double duty as part of Amazon’s Golden Globe-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as Rose and ABC’s Speechless as school principal Dr. Miller.
What viewers might not realize is, in addition to her television success, Hinkle is an accomplished stage actor. She made her Broadway debut in the 1995 revival of The Tempest directed by Tony winner George C. Wolfe, followed that up with A Thousand Clowns in 1996 directed by eight-time Tony nominee Scott Ellis, and then starred in the 1998 production of Electra directed by five-time Tony nominee David Leveaux. Over the years, Hinkle appeared Off-Broadway in Tony winner Pam MacKinnon’s Dinner With Friends as well as in Luce at Lincoln Center Theater, The Fourth Sister at the Vineyard, A Dybbuk at the Public, and many more, not to mention her dozens of regional credits working at the Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and more. Her breadth of roles reflects her versatility as a performer, but currently she finds her niche as two perfectionist women “devoted to—and one might say obsessive about” the roles they play in society. Here, Hinkle proves her theatre credentials as she discusses the moments that shaped her career, what she loves most about working in television, and what it’s like to be part of two series that touch on the pulse of today’s hot-button issues.
What was your first professional job?
Marin Hinkle: My Children! My Africa! by Athol Fugard, at Portland Stage. What a wonderful play.
Is there a stage moment you witnessed (from the audience, from the wings, in rehearsal) that stays with you?
I was six and was dancing in the Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker Suite. I remember being backstage and watching in the wings in absolute awe as the Christmas tree grew and grew hundreds of feet into the air. I was hooked for life.
What’s been the most rewarding experience onstage for you?
I did a production of Craig Lucas’s beautiful play, Blue Window, with some close friends. It was self-generated and started because a group of us (all women) were sitting around a kitchen table frustrated by our lack of work. We looked at each other and said, “What are we waiting for? Let’s just put up the play ourselves.” And we did.
Who is a collaborator from theatre who has made you better?
I think every actor and director I’ve worked with has affected me and helped me grow. I have been so fortunate to have been directed by the extraordinary Pam MacKinnon several times. And I have been inspired by the talents of the many women I’ve shared stages with over the years such as Lois Smith, Jean Stapleton, Zoe Wanamaker, Laura Linney, and Jessica Hecht.
What is your favorite part of doing TV that’s different from theatre?
The lack of control you have on a TV set is both frightening and inspiring. In the theatre, you know where you’re headed each night. In television, you may think you “know” your character on some level. But the next day you get your new script, and suddenly that woman you’ve played for years is transforming and deepened in ways you may never have imagined. I love that element of surprise.
You’re part of two shows that feel very of-the-moment in that Speechless finally spotlights a family as they grapple with one child having disabilities and Maisel with themes of female empowerment. What has working on these shows, specifically through the eyes of your respective characters, illuminated for you personally and as an actor?
I am moved by how hard Rose and Dr. Miller work to uphold their particular high standards within their respective environments—one a 1950s household, and the other a present-day high school. We all know people we love, people we work hard to please, but who seem to be forever disappointed. These two women want the best at all times, but can’t seem to find what they are looking for. The older I get, the more I realize it’s a constant battle, isn’t it? How do we allow for life’s imperfections, and let our predisposed ideas of right and wrong be questioned without losing faith? I suspect these two women hold it together with a drink or two (or ten) combined with visits to their therapists and fortune tellers.
Jeremy Shamos, Darren Pettie, Marin Hinkle, and Heather Burns Star in Roundabout's Dinner With Friends
Ruthie Fierberg is the Senior Features Editor of Playbill covering all things theatre and co-hosting the Opening Night Red Carpet livestreams on Playbill's Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain, on Instagram @ruthiefierceberg, or via her website.