The Gilmore girls are coming back and so are the quirky and delightful residents of Stars Hollows. I had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with the amazing and talented Rose Abdoo, the portrayer of Star Hollow’s spunky mechanic, who will be back in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. (You may also recognize her from Parenthood, That’s So Raven, Scandal and so many other great shows!) We gabbed about her Gilmore Girls audition, working with Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls Fan Fest in Washington Depot, CT, and even the newly announced return of That’s So Raven.
We first were introduced to Gypsy when Richard demanded a certified mechanic take a look at the car Dean built for Rory in Season 2. Enter: a certified mechanic clad in coveralls, sporting two pig tails and a less than impressed look her face. (Naturally, I went back and watched that episode again while writing this.) Not only is she the town mechanic, but she is an active townsperson of Star Hollow, present at most town meetings (Reminder: “TICKS ARE BAD!”), helping the town look for the missing Easter eggs after Kirk failed to make an egg map with the added benefit of making fun of Taylor’s toupee, and strongly supporting Lorelai with her pink ribbon in Luke and Lorelai’s breakup, the first time. Let’s not forget about the time she got invited to Emily’s impromptu bachelorette party.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
Gilmore Girls Audition
Back in 2001, Abdoo audition for the role of Gypsy as a one-time occurrence. She recounted the experience like it was yesterday. “I remember it was November. I think it was November 29th and I remember because my birthday is the 28th. It was the scene where Gypsy’s fixing the car and the windshield wipers, and it is the scene with Dean (Jared Padalecki) and Richard (Ed Herrmann). I wasn’t sure how everyone else was gonna play it, but I just saw the line ‘I miss my home’ and decided on the spot to give her a foreign accent. I chose an accent that didn’t come from anywhere in particular. She’s a gypsy so I thought, ‘Well, she is a gypsy. So maybe she came from some part of Europe.’ I have a niece who is Hungarian, Romanian, Dominican, and Lebanese. So I sort of made an accent that could come from sort of everywhere, but nowhere and that is how I chose to do it. Amy Sherman-Palladino gave me one direction, ‘Okay, now do that same thing, but go a lot faster.’ I love talking fast so it was sort of a perfect fit. I found out, I think, that night that I got the part and I thought it was just going to be one day. I was just going to be an auto-mechanic. I had no idea that I would end up doing like 23 of them.”
Gypsy Behind the Scenes
Unfortunately, the audience didn’t get a whole lot of insight in Gypsy, leaving a mysterious aspect with the character. I asked Abdoo what backstory she created for Gypsy.
“As soon as I saw Hewes Brother gas station, I kind of felt like the Hewes brothers left and went to Florida, and Gypsy sort of bought the gas station from them. I had just imagined that maybe Gypsy worked for the Hewes brothers before they left. I don’t know why but that was in my head. The other backstory was that she loved Lorelai and Rory and sort of had a very innocence girl crush on Lorelai. She sort of wants to follow her everywhere. And in town, Miss Patty and Babette were Gypsy’s favorite friends.”
“Who’s Emily?” Working with Kelly Bishop
An absolute fan-favorite Gypsy scene takes place during the 100th episode, “Wedding Bell Blues”, where Lorelai and Rory have to throw Emily Who-Hasn’t-Been-a-Bachelorette-in-Forty-Years Gilmore an impromptu bachelorette party. Gypsy was one of those lucky attendees who got the best seat in the house, right next to Emily.
“[Kelly Bishop]’s fantastic. We had a ball filming that scene and like I said at Fanfest, [Gypsy] was so excited to be indoors because a lot of her scenes were always by the gas station or any of the town meetings, but she go to be in the house. I was just so excited they gave me more of a fancy tunic. You can’t really see it because it is under the coat, but I was just so excited to be invited to a party, Gypsy was very excited to be invited to a party, and [Kelly Bishop] is just terrific! Kelly was a lot of fun and I said this to a couple people that the scene goes on and I wish there were DVD extras so you can see how long we were there. We had so many snacks. Supposedly, the party went on for hours and hours and we were all passed out with food all over us. When you see the episode it kind of goes by quickly, but we were really laying down with crackers on our faces for a really long time. Sally Struthers (who plays Babbette) is hilarious in that scene, putting food all over in that scene. We just had the greatest time filming that. It was one of my favorites. “Wedding Bell Blue” was my favorite to film. I got to be with Lauren and everybody who is in that scene. But as far as the most fun to film, I would have to say the Emily bachelorette party or Lane’s baby shower, where we are sitting at the table painting the onesies. That was a lot of fun.”
Getting the Call
Abdoo remembers exactly where she was and what she was doing when she got the call for revival.
“Oh, [it was] very exciting. I was actually in New York with a friend of mine. He had taken me on this wonderful theater trip and we were on our way to see The Color Purple. I just loving being in New York and we were talking about what television shows I loved doing and I had just done Scandal. I was in the hotel and my agent called. I just remember sitting down in the hallway in the hotel because my friend was in the room on the phone and I just sat down on the floor and he said, ‘I want to ask you something. Are you available to do Gilmore Girls?’ and I was like, ‘What? I don’t understand.’ Coming back to Netflix, I was so excited because I had just done Gilmore Guys and talking about it again made me miss everybody. I just never thought I would see everybody again. I don’t think any of us did. So that was super exciting. And then in January when we got the official word that everyone was signed on to do it, the table read was like going to a big family wedding when you hadn’t seen people in, I think, it was about 9 years. There were beautiful flowers, gorgeous food, and they just had so many snacks. Every snack you can ever imagine Rory and Lorelai loved, was on the table with these giant scripts with our names on it. It was very very exciting time at Warner Brothers.”
Back in the Saddle Again
After nearly a decade out of character, Abdoo just needed to get back into coveralls to find Gypsy again.
“Brenda Maben, the wardrobe designer of the show, was so nice to go shopping for Gypsy first. I had one of the first costumes. She chooses the best stuff. As soon as I put on her outfit, I felt like Gypsy. As soon as she gave me her overalls, coats, and shirts, I just was like, ‘Aww, there she is. I feel like Gypsy again.’ It was really fun to be back. It was like as (if) no time had passed when we all kind of filmed the first scene. I think we did scenes from ‘Winter’ first. We worked on the four seasons/movies of the show at the same time. It alternated going from Winter, Spring, Summer, (and) Fall. I would just look to see which outfit was hanging in the trailer and I would know, “Ok, we gotta get into this today.” It was just really fun and even though it was January until the end of May, I think it went by really fast.”
Coming Back on Netflix
“I am so grateful for Netflix. I am so happy that this technology exists. I never followed the ratings super closely, but I do remember working on the show and then telling people, ‘Hey, I am on this really cool show, Gilmore Girls.” and having people go, ‘What’s that?’ or a lot of people just didn’t watch it for whatever reason and didn’t discover it until later. I think we picked up a lot of fans on ABC Family and then even more from Netflix. And it is just so satisfying to have people discover it, download it, binge watch it, and pass it on. At Fan Fest, I got to meet people; young girls that said my mother turned me on to the show because it has been on for that long and these kids, when it first came out were little kids. And now they were in their early 20s and mothers and daughters watch it together. Like “Oh, I watched it the first time through, and now I am watching again with my daughter” and it was so exciting. I just love that Netflix exists. You’ve had that happened where a lot of times a show you absolutely love would disappear. It will be very interesting to see what other shows might come back because people loved them.”
Gilmore Girls Fan Fest
“The fans in Connecticut were just happy to be even around each other. It was so much fun. They had certain townies like Jackson, Kirk, Gypsy, Miss Patty, but it seemed to me that people were just happy to be, Number one: In the setting that inspired the whole town of Stars Hollow, and Number 2: Just being around other people that you could just do a line from the show and everyone knew it. I was fascinated at the panel when we just throw out random lines and people would know exactly what episode they were from. It is very exciting. It is a testament to Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing too that it has endured for that long because a lot of times you could watch a show and it seems dated. Gilmore Girls is sort of evergreen; it never seems dated. Even though there are tons of pop culture references, people still really love the show and it has held up over time which I think is an amazing testament to the writing by Amy, Dan and all the writers. The writing is super fine.”
Did Raven See That Coming?
Everything Rose does returns, so said a close friend to her. “I thought he was joking. I was so happy when I read about it. I think [Raven Symone] is fantastic,” Abdoo excitingly gushed.
Huge thank you to Rose Abdoo for chatting with me! Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will stream live on Netflix beginning Friday, November 25 at 3:01 am EST. Plan your Black Friday shopping accordingly!
Photos courtesy of The WB/CW.