Three generations of Gilmore ladies, from left to right: Emily (Kelly Bishop), Lor|Netflix1/2
Three generations of Gilmore ladies, from left to right: Emily (Kelly Bishop), Lor|Netflix
Kelly Bishop does not care much for Emily Gilmore.
“Emily is just so unpleasant,” she says of her character, the wealthy ‘Gilmore Girls’ matriarch. “She is so outspoken, she is so snobbish. When I get a character like that, I like to really make her as thoroughly unpleasant as possible. [But] I made her somehow sympathetic, because people don’t hate me like I thought they would.”
At a Netflix press day last month, Bishop charmed a roundtable of journalists — who certainly did not hate her portrayal of the irascible and controlling Emily Gilmore. The eldest Gilmore lady pulls rank whenever she can; most notably, by making her daughter Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and granddaughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) attend painstakingly formal (and awkward) Friday night dinners throughout the show's seven seasons.
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The actress returns to the series, which, in case you hadn’t heard, hits Netflix at exactly 3:01 A.M. ET on Friday, Nov. 25 for a four-part revival, "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life".
The South Orange, NJ resident said she had no reservations about participating in the revival, naming creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing as a major draw.
“I always trust her writing. I would jump on any project if she said to me, ‘Kelly, would you be interested in doing it?’ I would probably say yes before I read it," said the 72-year-old actress, who also worked on Sherman-Palladino’s "Bunheads" post "Gilmore Girls."
And the chance to reunite with certain costars was equally appealing. “Just the thought of getting to work with Lauren [Graham]; we really love each other, both as actors, and as people,” she said.
But the onscreen mother-daughter duo, known for their tumultuous relationship, has not mellowed in the revival, which picks up eight years later (in the time of the show), according to Bishop.
“They’re trying, but no, I don’t think so. It’s just taken on a more mature dysfunction. But we are fiercely loyal….I would fight anyone who would hurt her. And then I would fight her,” she said, laughing.
The only possible negative Bishop could think of associated with the show’s return? Having to film in LA.
In a stubborn, opinionated, Emily Gilmore-esque rant, (read: utterly delightful) she listed her grievances about the city.
“I have never liked Los Angeles. It’s dry and flat and has no architecture, and then it has fires and then it finally rains and it has mudslides, and it has too many people and too many cars, and it has no center, and if you want to see a really good friend you only have to drive an hour and a half, and I always feel so isolated. It’s not my town,” said the actress, who hails from Denver, Colorado, but spent her early career in New York City as a Broadway dancer.
When asked about filming without costar Edward Herrmann (who plays Emily’s husband, Richard Gilmore), who passed away in late 2014, Bishop said, “There was a real emptiness without having Ed there.”
‘Winter,’ the first of ‘A Year in the Life’’s four 90-minute episodes each named after the seasons, opens with Emily grappling with the loss of her husband, said Bishop.
“‘We were married for fifty years. Half of me is gone,’” Bishop said, quoting Emily in one scene. “I figure she’s about 21, 22 when she married Richard. And then she had Lorelai within a couple of years, and that’s been her life,” she explained. “She’s exploring because she doesn’t know where she’s going.”
The conversation steered lighter, onto the topic of Emily Gilmore’s old money sense of style — all those pricey St. John knits. Bishop shared that she purchased all of her character’s jewelry herself.
“The Emily Gilmore necklace? That’s my necklace, I bought it,” she said, mentioning that she’s allergic to metal and they “wouldn’t spring for [gold].”
“I said, Emily needs a statement piece. She’s a rich woman and she doesn’t have an important necklace?”
And in case you were wondering: Emily, although more of a skirt suit than a pantsuit lady, “would have voted for Hillary,” Bishop said. “Emily would have liked [her] strength and intelligence.”