Kelly Bishop‘s re-entry into Stars Hollow last Friday hit a snag.
At the inaugural table read for Netflix’s four-part Gilmore Girls revival, the East Coast-based actress — who was reciting her lines via speaker phone from her home in New Jersey, as she had done during much of the show’s original seven-year run — experienced some connectivity issues.
“Unfortunately, there was a time lag, like when you watch one of those reporters in Afghanistan,” she explains. “It had never happened before, and I’ve done a lot of remote table reads. So that certainly slowed down the process.”
It didn’t, however, dampen her enthusiasm. Technical glitch aside, Bishop describes that first script reading as “absolutely delightful,” adding: “To hear all of those voices again was pretty amazing. I was 20 pages in and I was like, ‘Ahh… I’m back in Gilmore Land. I’m here. It never went away.'”
In the following Q&A, Bishop opens about what it’s been like stepping back into Emily’s privileged shoes after an eight-year absence, and what it means to be doing so without her onscreen other half, the late Edward Herrmann, by her side.
TVLINE | I imagine there have been a lot of mixed emotions diving back into this role without Ed….
It’s going to be very difficult. I read your interview with Lauren [Graham], where she talked about stepping foot on the set already. I haven’t had that happen yet. And I know it’s going to be so moving. We so miss him. We’ve missed him since we found out he had died. It’s going to be very hard doing it without him, because he and I were buds on the show. We, obviously, were older [than the rest of the cast]. But we were also New York actors, and we connected very well. We always did our crossword puzzles together in the hair-and-makeup room. That was one of our little routines. There was a comfort level…. [Sighs] It’s going to be hard without him.
TVLINE | Without giving too much away, what is Emily’s mindset when we pick up?
Well, because of the fact that Emily lost her husband, she’s kind of a raw nerve. In a desperate attempt to push through [her grief], she blows between right on the edge of losing it to almost being a little manic. I recall doing something very similar when I lost my mother; I was quite devastated. I suddenly got into this mode of getting things done and getting things done right. I was manic and aggressive and pushing, pushing, pushing — because, if you stop, you’re going to cry. So you don’t stop. And I see that in Emily. [Richard] is certainly a presence, especially in that first script. And Ed’s probably going to be hovering around the set a bit and watching over us. I really do believe that. Because he really loved the show.
TVLINE | Have you read all four scripts?
I read [the first script] “Winter.” I’ve read “Spring.” I’m in the middle of “Summer” now. And “Fall” came to me the other day – it’s still in the box. I won’t open the box until I finish “Summer.”
TVLINE | Did you flip to the last page of “Fall” to see what the final four words are?
TVLINE | But they’re right in the box!
Yes, they’re sitting in the box. I’m one of those kids who never opened her Christmas presents ahead of time. And it wasn’t because I wanted to be honorable or anything. It would’ve been a spoiler, although we didn’t use that word 500 years ago when I was a child. I want to see it when it happens. That’s why I’m not going to tell people what’s going to happen — and you know better than to ask me — because it really would spoil. I want viewers to experience it the same way when I read it. But these scripts are good. They’re really good. And bringing back all of those characters is so delicious. Like Gypsy (played by Scandal‘s Rose Abdoo); I always loved Gypsy. And Paris is a hoot. It’s unbelievable what Amy has written for Paris (How to Get Away With Murder‘s Liza Weil). People are going to have so much fun with it.
You know, in all those years of doing Gilmore Girls. I never probed. I never asked. I never wanted to know any secrets. I never called Amy and said, “What’s going to happen?” I like to open the scripts as if it was a present and just see what was inside there. And sometimes it was shocking. But most of the time, amazingly, I would go, “Yep, that’s it. Spot on. That’s exactly what she’d say!” So I’ll just follow the lead and see where it goes.
TVLINE | Do you feel like you have unfinished business with Emily?
Emily was so locked into her way of life. I often felt, in trying to defend her to some degree because she was sort of indefensible at times which amused the hell out of me — “Why is this woman like this? Why is she so hard?” Although I will say she reminded me so much of my grandmother, so I had someone to draw on very readily. I finally decided that she is weirdly insecure… I think I would like to see her, since she has been thrust into this [widow] situation, grow a bit. However, let’s face it, good comedy and good drama always comes from conflict. And there always has to be conflict between me and Lorelai. If we got along we’d all be falling asleep in front of our televisions. She’s a very confused woman in a lot of ways. She’s secretly very proud of Lorelai, and yet she’s really mad at her, ever since she was 16 and got pregnant. She’s still holding on to that.
TVLINE | Are you psyching yourself up for the cross-country commute?
I did it for seven years. I’m older now, so I’m a little less patient. [Laughs] I’m kinda not looking forward to all that flying. My husband’s not well now, so it’s really important that I don’t spend any more time away from home than I have to. His daughter’s going to come up from Virginia and spell me, and she certainly has been here and knows the drill. It’s going to be hard on all of us, but we all agreed that it’s something that I just have to do. I have to do it. I’d be heartbroken if the show went on without me.
TVLINE | It couldn’t go on without you.
I would dry up and blow away like a leaf. This show is so deeply important to me, on so many levels. Part of it is the idealistic actor thing where you just want to do good material and feel proud of yourself. I work with such delightful people. I’m madly in love with Lauren — I was from practically the first day we said hi. It was just one of those situations where I was doing a really wonderful character with amazing writing with really good people. And I happen to love the Warner Bros. lot. I just think it’s gorgeous… I have to finish this out. And it’s great knowing how excited fans are.
TVLINE | You have no idea how excited they are.
And I love that [there’s this level of enthusiasm] for an intelligent show. I love humor. I love, love, love, love doing comedy. But I hate cheap, broad comedy. I like sophisticated, smart comedy. Plus, this whole world is skewed. This is how I explain it to people: “You look at a room. And then you just tip it sideways a little bit.” That’s Gilmore Girls. It’s a little tip.