The Reason Why Jemima Kirke Almost Left 'Girls'


The sixth and final season of Girls doesn't premiere until Feb. 12, but the women behind the show are already opening up about what it's like to say goodbye — from their end, at least. (For fans, it will be a whole different grieving process.) In a Glamour interview with executive producer Jenni Konner, the foursome divulged some new details. Specifically, this fact stood out: Jemima Kirke (Jessa) almost quit Girls right before Season 2.

"I remember being in a cab. And Jemima called me," Lena Dunham recalled to the magazine. "She was like, 'I have to tell you something. It’s not a big deal. I don’t want you to freak out. I want to quit the show.'" At the time, Kirke divulged, "My sense of who I was and what I wanted was really thin. I really wasn’t sure what the f*ck I was doing."

The ladies of Girls have consistently made their lives transparent, and that's part of why the show works so well. Though similar series have come and gone since it first aired, Girls was one of the first to break those boundaries. Kirke's real-life struggles mirroring those of her character fits right into the show's original ethos. Your 20s (and 30s and 40s and possibly 50s? I'm not sure when this ends) are a tricky, at times uncomfortable, at times upward battle with highs and lows — and a lot of in-betweens. Girls has been able to encapsulate that complicated feeling because the actors themselves not only understand it, but are willing to show up and be the face of it.

In Season 2, Kirke's character was the antithesis of happy and fully formed. She married Thomas-John, but quickly learned that it was the wrong call. I guess you could say that Jessa's sense of who she was and what she wanted was "really thin." (Like, you know, a lot of us during that time in life.)

It's certain that Kirke's personal struggles outside of the show were of no detriment to Girls. They only added to her character, mimicking Jessa's own battles and allowing an audience of woman (and men) to relate and become more invested in her fictional life. If anything, Kirke's impressive, realistic, layered portrayal of Jessa's character is further elucidated by this admission. Kirke was, in some ways, going through the same things Jessa was. Even Kirke and Dunham (Hannah) had conflict IRL. Kirke told Glamour, "The least and the most satisfying thing about my job was my relationship with Lena [Dunham]." The contentious dynamic between these onscreen characters feels that more authentic thanks to this, too.

You can't fault Kirke for being unsure whether or not she wanted to continue with Girls at a time when she was younger and the show was still finding its bearings. Mostly because the actor's commitment to the emotions and vulnerability of Jessa likely wouldn't have come across so raw onscreen if they weren't based on wounds Kirke was trying to heal for herself as well. Fans of Girls are certainly grateful that, in the end, she chose to mend them onscreen.