Of all the people on Girls aspiring actresses should feel jealous of, Jemima Kirke is definitely the shining star. Unlike her fellow celebrity offspring Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams, she had never even thought about being actress let alone tried to be one pre-Girls, and the decision to take the role was something she made with all the excitement a normal person might apply towards choosing whether to watch The Real Housewives Of New York or The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills on any given night.
A painter/cool mom by trade, Jemima didn’t initially know what to do when her buddy Lena Dunham handed the role of
herself Jessa to her on a silver platter. But she took it anyway, because…well, she’s still not quite sure. Here, I’ll let Jemima explain!
And you’ve expressed some reluctance about being an actor, because you’re a painter. So why do you it?
It was a huge decision, and I don’t think I realized that at the time. I think the opportunity came at a time when I was looking for something in my life that was a lot more concrete. When you have something that you’re that passionate about and that means so much to you, it’s very scary to say that’s what you do. So I think that when Lena offered me that opportunity — You don’t have to paint. You could be an actor. — I was like, [relieved voice] “Oh really? Great! Okay. That’s cool.” And then, as I’m doing this, I’m also painting at the same time, and I’m realizing I feel much more whole when I’m painting. But I have this side job of the acting, and so I had to rationalize why I was doing it. I had to really sit up at night and think. And there was no big answer. That’s what I decided: There was no answer. You made your choice. And now you’re doing it. And I enjoy it.
Yeah! Yeah. I do enjoy it. I was pretending — not pretending before, but I was resisting it before and trying not to enjoy it. Or at least enjoying it and not giving that any importance. But it is important that I do enjoy it. And it is important that I can at least pull it off somewhat.
Do you hear that, normals? Taking a role most actresses would kill for was something Jemima Kirke had to rationalize to herself, as well as something she felt weird about enjoying. But it’s okay, because she can at least pull off this very desirable role “somewhat.”
Personally, this just makes me like her more, as her #overit attitude combined with the Emmy-worthy performances she shits out on the regs have got to piss off theater people soooo much. That said, it’s quickly becoming apparent that she might just be playing herself:
Lena puts a lot of her life into the story of Hannah, and she’s also known you for a long time. Is your life in the character of Jessa?
Not so much. Maybe aspects of who I used to act like. The way I used to behave, some of my behaviors are similar.
Do you ever read something that Lena has written for you and recognize it?
How do you respond to that?
Sometimes it’s a little … [Groans.] I cringe. Because I’m like, I really don’t want to have to put that on camera. Can we please not hear how that sounds out loud? Can we please not see how that looks? Would you really want someone [gestures to the tape recorder] taping everything you say? [Laughs.]
And then there was the time Jessa decided she was going to be a painter, just like Jemima (what a coincidence!):
There’s a specific moment in season two where you’re painting …
[Groans.] That I hated.
So that is not your painting?
No. Actually, I was a little pissed at that moment, when I saw that painting as a prop. I was like, Lena. Come on. It’s just a little close to home. And only because I have been vocal about the fact that I make artwork, so I don’t want this to be seen as mine. Not that there was anything wrong with it; it just wasn’t me.
Translation: Lena Dunham is copying her friends’ lives verbatim, just like Jessa accuses Hannah of doing in the first season, because she has no imagination! Jemima Kirke hates her for it, but she also lets her, because she has given her a stable job that she almost kind of likes! Scandalous!
I’m obviously being mostly sarcastic here, but isn’t that the vibe you get from this interview? God bless Jemima Kirke and her brutal honesty about her fraught relationship with Lena and with acting. May she never get a publicist.