We first meet Gypsy as she stands arguing with Richard Gilmore over the car that Dean built for Rory. “Check it again!” demands Richard, to which Gypsy begrudgingly obliges. Eventually, she returns and says, “Ok, I found something wrong. Windshield wipers came right off in my hand,” and in one scene we have a picture of Gypsy: blunt, honest, sarcastic and proud of her work, wrapped up in an oversized work jacket. I recently talked with Rose Abdoo, who is responsible for adding her own touches to the spunky Gypsy, on what it was like to be on Gilmore Girls, both for the original series and the reboot, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, set to premiere on Netflix on November 25th.
“That scene was the audition scene: the scene where Richard says ‘Check it again,’ ‘I already checked it again! Best manifold pressure I’ve ever seen’ and I just remember being in the audition and there were a lot of people in the waiting room. When I went in I felt really comfortable in a denim shirt and a watch borrowed from my friend Suzy,” shares Rose Abdoo. “I decided she has two pigtails; from that first audition I just thought: I want to give her this look and then I wanted it to remain the same throughout. A friend of mine, Margaret, had given me an auto clamp ring, which is a car part, a hose clamp; she took it off her finger and gave it to me one Easter and I wore it to the audition and I’ve worn it every single episode to play Gypsy.”
That first audition was not Rose’s first audition for Gilmore Girls, after first auditioning for another key role. “I auditioned to play Sookie,” shares Rose, “I know you know that Alex Borstein had it in the pilot. The first time it ever came into my consciousness, it was a different company casting the show when I was here in LA, visiting from Chicago, and I remember them saying ‘She’s a chef that’s klutzy,’ and I sculpt miniature food out of clay… in real life. So I brought my tiny clay food and the casting people were just… they became a little bit more fascinated with my ability as a sculptor. I remember thinking, ‘This will be really funny, because I’ll say ‘I don’t really make life-sized food, but I make tiny food!’ Then they were the most interested in the tiny food and I didn’t get the part and I forgot all about it.”
Thankfully, this was not the last we heard of Rose Abdoo. Returning in November of the same year, after giving up her apartment in Chicago, she auditioned again for another role, for “Gypsy: Auto Mechanic.”
“I had just gotten here November 8th,” says Rose, “And here it was November 29th, I think was my audition, and the character it said ‘Gypsy: auto mechanic’ but that’s all, really! It was just like ‘Gypsy: auto mechanic’, So I just thought, ‘I have to separate myself from all these other very talented people that are going to audition for this’ and one of the lines in the scene where Richard keeps making Gypsy look at the car again, and she takes the wipers off and I had a line: ‘I miss my home.’ So, because she said ‘I miss my home,’ I decided to give her an accent because she didn’t say ‘I miss being at home.’ ‘I miss my home’ seemed like a village, like she missed her village.”
And so, just like that, Rose Abdoo crafted a character who had a rich and complex back story, far beyond the notes given to her by casting. Indeed, her only note during casting was “Now do the same thing, but go much faster; everything we do is faster. Faster’s funnier,” and Rose shares that she loves to talk fast, “I just thought ‘These are my people! I love these people.’ And that was it!”
It turns out later, Rose learned that Amy Sherman-Palladino had been a fan of hers, having seen her put something on tape for a pilot she was working on years back in Chicago. Stars aligned to make the connection for this role, which Rose landed just a day or two after her birthday. “I made a wish! My birthday’s the 28th and I booked the role the 29th or the 30th, so that was very exciting!”
We may never know if the auto clamp ring played a part in Rose getting selected for the part, but that ring has become an iconic piece of Gypsy’s character. I asked Rose what she thought made up Gypsy, and she notes: “I think she’s very business-like. She takes her repairs very seriously. She’s a very loyal person… remember the pink and blue ribbons with Lorelai and Luke? She loves who she loves and she doesn’t like who she doesn’t like. She loves Rory and Lorelai. But I think she’s like a business woman first… But she’s the most honest mechanic because she won’t repair a car if she thinks it’s a piece of crap.”
Gypsy is very honest, blunt and just a bit sarcastic. One of Rose’s favourite Gypsy scenes was the one where Luke tries to interrogate her about how Jess paid her for his car, eventually quipping “he was carrying it in a canvas bag with a big dollar sign on it,” which Luke nearly fell for, so she continues her tirade, “Guys are stupid. You strip your gears, you ride your breaks, and if we don’t laugh after we make a joke, you think we’re serious.”
It’s these quips that have landed Gypsy in the hearts of many Gilmore Girls fans, despite how little we know about her. Thanks to the insights of Rose Abdoo today, we’re getting to know Gypsy a little better. Where did she come from? Who does she hang out with? Here’s what Rose has to say:
“I just wanted her to be from a country of indeterminate origin,” shares Rose. “My own niece Lexi is part Lebanese, part Dominican, part Romanian, part Hungarian, and so I thought it would be interesting if Gypsy was from a fictional country that nobody could really put their finger on. But I thought that the Hewes Bros., because the sign says Hewes Bros. Gas, went to Florida and left her the business, that she was friends with them, she used to work for them. But other than that, I hadn’t really thought about her whole life. But I really think that, in town, she loves Miss Patty, she loves Babette; because Rose Abdoo in real life loves Sally and Liz, and she’s partial and very protective of Lorelai, because Rose Abdoo in real life loves Lauren.”
Despite the intense care that Rose has put into crafting Gypsy, the heart of the character still comes from Amy Sherman-Palladino, and Dan Palladino “They give her the funny things to say I don’t think they took any clues from me,” Rose muses, though she admits there were times when working with Amy on Bunheads that she would ask Amy, “‘Do you have a microphone in my house?’ Because everything she would write, was something I would talk about, even the tap dancing!” Rose jokes that Amy is “weirdly intuitive” in these ways, joking I think she’s psychic! She would laugh if she knew I said that, but sometimes there were things that came up in both Bunheads and Gilmore Girls, that I would think, ‘How does she know that?’ Things that she would have no way of knowing. She’s an intuitive person.” As for Gypsy, the biggest shared characteristic was a shared love of Rollos.
In real life, Rose Abdoo knows very little about cars, and recalls a story of being confronted by laughing girls in an auto repair show during the original airing of the series, “I was in an auto repair shop, when the show was on, and these girls were laughing and pointing at me and I was thinking ‘What is going on?’ and then I realized they were thinking ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the car mechanic in an actual car repair place!’ and I was like ‘I wish I could help you, I don’t know anything!’” Indeed, despite some coaching on set for how to work with the cars, her most lasting impression of being a ‘mechanic’ is the smell of A1 steak sauce. “They used A1 steak sauce to mimic motor oil and, because we did the scene over and over again, where I’m dipping my hand in to get the motor oil, it was really A1 steak sauce, and to this day I cannot smell A1 steak sauce, it makes me sick. I almost would have rather it be motor oil!”
Rose admits to being astounded by the lasting impression of her character, and of Gilmore Girls as well. “My friends who are watching it now to catch up, my friends who never watched the series, trying to catch up before the big Netflix show goes on are like ‘You weren’t in very many’ and I was… I would appear, and then I wouldn’t appear. I think all told, I did maybe 23 of them. The fans probably know how many I did! I did a couple that I got cut out of! She wasn’t in them that much, but I’m so touched that people remember Gypsy as such a big part of Stars Hollow when it really was… I wasn’t in them every week, in other words.”
Rose shares that the support and encouragement of the fans has made Gilmore Girls an amazing role, and the addition of social media this time around has allowed that excitement to bubble through to the cast and crew. “We love that the fans are so excited. It makes it really fun to work on the show knowing that it’s being waited for with such anticipation.”
“I just love the way the fans have embraced the quirky and weird,” shares Rose about the fandom for Stars Hollow characters such as Gypsy, “It was always really fun to film, but I love how the people know the show better than the cast knows the show. We talk about it all the time, about how people will come will come up and say ‘Remember the one where…?’ And you’re just… ‘I don’t remember… really…’ and then when you’re reminded of it, it’s so fun, it’s like you get to relive it all over again.”
Us fans will have a chance to relive it all again with Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which airs on Netflix this November. Rose shares that she believes fans will be “delighted” by the new episodes, “They’re just chock full of so many fun things, because… the tables reads were always very fun, but these scripts just hit the table like a phone book. It’s a 90-minute treat for your eyeballs and your… ear balls,” Rose jokes, though she hopes that people won’t watch them back-to-back, and even worse, post spoilers that will ruin the experience for others.
I pitched a question to Rose from a GilmoreNews reader, asking if Gypsy would ever hire Kirk, who seems to work just about everywhere! “That’s hilarious, NO,” says Gypsy, “I don’t think Gypsy… Gypsy and Kirk would fight. Gypsy fights with Kirk and Andrew the most.” Rose notes that she was once sent a link for fan fiction that involved Gypsy and Andrew together, which “made me laugh so hard because even though Rose likes Mike, Gypsy cannot stand Andrew.” So, who would Gypsy be perfect for?
“I felt like Gypsy had a secret girl crush on Lorelai, always,” muses Rose, “I always played it like Gypsy had a crush on Lorelai. She just wanted to hang around her, always. And she became… sorta… she’s one of those people that you go, ‘Does she like a boy, does she like a girl? Who does Gypsy love?’ She can’t figure it out yet.” And indeed it may be one of those purposefully ambiguous areas of Gilmore Girls, like the mysterious absence of Mr. Kim.
Rose shares that her favourite moment filming Gilmore Girls was for Emily’s bachelorette party, which we sadly only see a part of!
“I loved loved filming the scene in Lorelei’s house when we were giving the shower for Emily… it really got cut! When we were filming, we all eat and drank so much we passed out! I just remember Lane’s on the sofa… Sally put Ritz crackers on her head. I had cheese on my face. We just passed out. And we were there forever filming it, just passed out with food all over us, but when you see the final cut, it goes by really really quick. But in reality? Oh my gosh, it was so much fun. I wish there were DVD extras where you could see the outtakes of stuff we didn’t do.”
Another favourite scene for Rose was for Lane’s baby shower, when they all got to paint onesies for Lane’s twins, although she didn’t get to choose what to paint! “Gypsy was supposed to be TERRIBLE and I such an ego thing about,” shares Rose, “I had to keep reminding myself ‘Rose, you’re playing a character. Gypsy is not good at this.‘ So I had to paint this pick up truck, and I didn’t want to do a bad one! So I said, ‘Please, just let me do an extra one! Let me do a cute one!’ And I remember just laughing and laughing sitting around that table with them teasing me that I had to be bad for the scene because Gypsy’s not a good artist and it was kind of killing Rose that Gypsy had to not be very good at it. So we had a ball filming that scene.”
And who could forget her favourite one liner, “How can a stupid donut be happy?” during a town meeting? Rose shares that working on Gilmore Girls was always fun, particularly working with Sally Struthers (Babette) and Liz Torres (Miss Patty), and the same holds true for her return to the series. “We just got to hang out so much in these new ones and we became very close,” shares Rose of her time in particular with Sally, “We always were close, but it was such a joy. She travels so much, she does shows all over the country, that it was just so nice to be able to spend a bunch of time with her… She’s an amazing actress.”
There are many new actors joining Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, the Netflix reboot, several of whom worked alongside Rose in Stars Hollow. “I love two actors: Sam Pancake, who’s super talented, and who I had known a little bit just from the comedy scene here in LA, and I got to meet the wonderful Eric Henry Peterson, who were two new-to-Stars Hollow people who I think are fantastic and I’d love to work with them again.”
Rose says that returning for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was a very special experience, but also very surreal. When they were all filming at Miss Patty’s, Rose shares, “We all said ‘Does this look smaller? Does this look bigger?’ Some people thought it looked smaller, some people thought it looked bigger. But the weirdest thing was to just look around the room and look at each other like ‘This has been 9 years and now we’re doing this again!’ And people would just start laughing. Really really fun. A lot of turning to each other, saying ‘Can you believe we’re doing this?’ It wasn’t lost on anyone how special it was.”
Rose says that the love that fans have for Gilmore Girls has made it that much more special, “Because it’s the most gratifying feeling that something that we worked so hard on such a long time ago was so well received by people. It’s just such an amazing feeling. To think: It has endured and gathered new fans along the way. People who didn’t know it when it was on The CW or have discovered it on Netflix. And we’re just so grateful to Netflix for putting it on and having it gain this huge popularity, it’s just very exciting.”
“It’s very beautiful. You know, you see the four Seasons in Stars Hollow. It’s just very cool to be back and walk around the town. And then at night, Sally and I, we finished filming one night, and there were twinkling lights everywhere, and it just felt like a vacation. It’s a job, don’t get me wrong, I’m not that starry-eyed of a person who thinks ‘It’s just like being on vacation!’ but at night, we were riding around the golf cart around Stars Hollow and all the twinkling lights on the gazebo and I thought how lucky I am to be here. People would really really kill for this experience. It wasn’t lost on me how lucky I was just to be there, it was magical. Really magical!”
Although excited to be back, Rose had no idea that a revival was in the works. “As a matter of fact, I did the Gilmore Guys podcast,” shares Rose, “And I was talking like ‘Oh this was years ago, and it’s so cute that people are interested in it’ And I swear it was maybe two days after that the news came out and I thought it was crazy. And they are asking me ‘Are you Team Jess or Team Logan?’ and I was like ‘Oh, Team Dean, I just loved Jared because he’s such a sweet guy. Yeah, the other two, I didn’t interact with them much and I don’t know them that well,’ and I was talking as if I would never see these people again in my life and there we all were at the table read not even a couple of weeks later!”
Despite that, Rose sticks to being Team Dean. There’s the Stars Hollow loyalty for you!
Rose shares that being back on set was amazing and beautiful, but they, as actors, were also treated really well by Netflix, “Snacks galore! I remember eating the first time around, but not like this. But the snacks that were available for us for this Netflix reboot? I cannot begin to describe to you. We had a little converted garage called the Snack Shack and a truck with two silver staircases that we called the Snack Hole. I think Sam Pancake thought of those names. And every time they would yell ‘Cut!’ the cast would go for snacks, well, everyone except for Lauren, she has good discipline. We said ‘How can you not just eat all day long?’ And Lauren’s always on her bicycle and she said ‘Just don’t walk over there,’ and I’m like ‘What? That’s not an option. There’s all kinds of snacks!’ So I just think, it seemed for a group of days, I think there were five days in a row of straight filming, like it was a vacation with great fun people with all the treats you could ever imagine in cute fun Stars Hollow. You couldn’t ask for a better job.”
Rose Abdoo has slipped back into her overalls, her pigtails and her oversized jacket. She has put Gypsy back on for more Gilmore Girls, and in the process has given us a rare glimpse into a character we never had a chance to know better. For Rose, slipping into that jacket was like slipping back in time. The jacket she originally wore in Gilmore Girls, which belonged to costume designer Brenda Maben, was miraculously overlooked all these years, and inside? A lost Gilmore Girls treasure:
“We have a great wardrobe person, Brenda Maben, she’s been on it since the beginning, and she had a huge rack of clothes for Gypsy. This is really cool. She used to let me wear her own boots, her personal boots, and her coat, and a couple of other things were hers. So, when she found me the coveralls, I think the coveralls were new, when I put on the outfit, I felt ‘Ah, she’s back!’ She said ‘You even walk different! You stand different!’ So, she finds this coat in her stuff, that she let me wear, and I find in the pocket of the coat, the Sides, from 2005, of the scene with Lorelai and Luke when everyone in town is wearing pink ribbon for her and blue for him. That was really funny. The sides were wrinkled from being crinkled up in my own hot little Gypsy fist and it was my sides from 2005 and I showed Amy and she couldn’t believe it. And it was in Brenda’s coat, because she had rolled up the coat to put in the giveaway bag and never gave it away.”
Sometimes it’s all these little pieces that come together for a reason. That is the case with Gilmore Girls, and how fortunate we are all to be on this journey again together. Rose hopes that this is not lost on fans, who she hopes won’t be nit-picking over who had enough screen time or the introduction of new characters, and instead are along for the ride: “We are so lucky that the creators who dreamed these people up, for us to even catch another glimpse of them, that I hope people are so happy that they get to revisit the world of these people that they’re not thinking ‘Oh this should have happened or that should have happened’ Well, this is what the person who created this world wants to have happen and I hope they will go along with it. I think they will. I hope they will. I find that the Gilmore Girls fans are very well-read intelligent people. They really are. And I’ve met a lot of good writers. I also love people that appreciate pop culture references, and that’s one thing that Amy and Dan have done an amazing job in, is that these episodes are full of what’s going on at the moment, which I think is just amazing. It’s fun. I mean, we went off the air 9 years ago? To have them talk about current things is really fun. I’m amazed, too, that because it’s so pop-culture heavy that it’s stood the test of time, that’s amazing too.”
Rose Abdoo returns as Gypsy in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on November 25th, 2016. Would she be back for more, if the rumours of the potential hold true?
“I would. I’m curious to know if that would ever happen. I wonder if everyone would be. I definitely would be. It’s a great group of people and its just a fun thing to be involved with and I think everyone would look forward to it. I am really curious to know if that would really happen! I don’t think anyone is dismissing it, which is really kind of fun.”
Also stay tuned to see Rose Abdoo in the upcoming Hulu series called Shut Eye, in which she plays an attorney named Gwen Davenport in a series about the underworld of LA storefront psychics. You can watch the teaser trailer for it below.
Images: The WB.com / Rose Abdoo