Emily Gilmore is known for being hard on her maids. Every Friday night dinner there was a new maid at the Gilmore mansion. In Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, we meet the newest maid, Berta, a cheerful maid who speaks what appears to be Spanish, yet remains misunderstood even by Spanish-speakers. Despite this, she’s never fired. Indeed, we come to know Berta (and her family) quite well.
Fans of Gilmore Girls may have done a double-take during the first Berta scene, and with good reason. Berta is played by none other than Rose Abdoo, who plays the amazing Gypsy as well. I had a chance to catch up with Rose about how she landed this secondary role, what it was like to step into this new role for Gilmore Girls, and a few follow-up questions to my previous interview with Rose about what it was like to play Gypsy again.
Lauren Graham shared that you did a table read for the character of Berta, but I was curious about how Rose happened to be the one to read for Berta. Rose shares that during table reads, not all characters are cast yet:
“The Winter table read at the end of January was very exciting,” notes Rose. “It was the first time we were all back together. All the WB and Netflix execs were there too. It was so lively and there were many gorgeous flower arrangements and tons of Gilmore food. I just remember gazing at a huge cake and giant bowl of Pop Tarts!
The table reads often take place before there’s time to cast all the roles. Jami Rudofsky, one of the casting directors, asked me to read about 5 roles that day, in addition to Gypsy. I had many highlighter markers in different colors.”
Rose shares that not only were her pages covered in multicoloured highlighter, but also her name emblazoned diagonally across each page, for security reasons. Although one could imagine this makes it difficult to read the lines, it also made it so much more special:
“Not only are we all sitting there together, after we have not seen each other in 9 years, but we get to read this story that the whole universe of fans is dying to know… we get to see it unfold on pages with our own names in giant letters diagonally across each page! The excitement of that kind of thing is not lost on me.”
Rose shares that for the character of Berta, the casting notes were very clear on her linguistic uniqueness, “Berta – a tiny cheery maid. NOTE: SHE SPEAKS IN A SPANISH DIALOGUE THAT NOT EVEN SPANISH SPEAKERS CAN IDENTIFY OR UNDERSTAND.”
Rose shares that the capitalization, in particular, really made her laugh, but she didn’t have a chance to think too hard about the role.
“I didn’t have time to think too much about it,” shares Rose, “Because the script was very thick & heavy and I was busy paging through it to find all the roles.”
When it came time to Berta’s first scene, which included the lines written in English, Rose shares, “I did them in my version of a Spanish sounding dialect but with certain letters substituted for others. It is what I now call “Bertaspeak“. It made them laugh.”
And making people laugh is kind of the key! Rose continues, “Amy, Dan & Lauren all seemed to simultaneously say different versions of ‘You know…Rose could do it!’ It was very complimentary. Next thing I knew, we were having hair and makeup consultations for Berta’s look!”
What I found most interesting about Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is that Lauren Graham was the trigger-happy boss, firing her chefs one after the other, while Emily never seemed to fire Berta. While an incomprehensible language may have been enough grounds for firing in the ‘old’ Emily, the new Emily seemed content with her quirky maid Berta and her large extended family. I asked Rose why she thought Emily kept Berta around:
“I think Berta made Emily feel secure and kept her company,” notes Rose. “Being a widow can be very lonely. Berta and her family filled the house with joy and noise.”
Rose hypothesizes that perhaps Berta reminded Emily of “someone she met once at a party and enjoyed” or perhaps it was more about Berta having a large family that was appealing to Emily:
“Berta showed Emily that she herself had a great relationship with her husband, the same way Emily had such a close bond with Richard. Berta’s whole family became valuable to Emily. For example, when Emily read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and decided to get rid of things that ‘didn’t bring her joy,’ Berta pitched right in… with all her family members.”
For Rose Abdoo, playing Berta meant exploring a role outside of the heart of Stars Hollow and working alongside Kelly Bishop.
“Kelly is not only a fabulous actor, but a really funny, smart, cool lady to be around,” shares Rose. “She gives fantastic, valuable career advice. She’s also very knowledgable and passionate about animals and has rescued many dogs.”
On the topic of dogs, Rose shares that she got her first dog (named Monkey, pictured here saying hello!) from the Pasadena Humane Society. Not having had a pet in 53 years, Kelly helped Rose a great deal with advice during the filming of A Year in the Life.
Not only is Kelly a generous person and amazing actress, Rose shares she’s also the kind of person to “share her Häagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream.” That goes a long way in my books, too!
A couple of months ago, Rose shared with us some amazing insight on what it was like to play Gypsy, the sarcastic, blunt and hilarious auto mechanic of Stars Hollow. Berta is wildly different from Gypsy, more bubbly and subservient, with still a little twist of sarcasm (such as in the ‘doesn’t know how to cook soup’ scene). I asked Rose which character was more fun to play:
“I love Gypsy for many reasons. She speaks her mind. She wears very comfortable clothing! But, I also love Berta & love that Amy wanted Berta to smile broadly all the time! But Berta’s uniform was not comfortable, had no stretch or give or breathability and her head was a bit itchy! If you look closely, you can see Berta go thru the boxes in the scene where Emily is clearing out closets and Berta finds comfy pyjamas. Then, later in Nantucket, Berta is wearing those same pyjamas. Berta was happiest and most comfortable in Nantucket! Both characters are a lot of fun to play!”
If you’re like me, you now need to go back and check out those Berta scenes with the pyjamas, since apparently watching the whole series twice was not enough to catch this tidbit!
Circling back to Stars Hollow and Gypsy, I couldn’t resist asking one final question. In my earlier interview with Rose, she suggested that Gypsy had always had a crush on Lorelai. So, in A Year in the Life, when Taylor brings up the Stars Hollow Gay Pride Parade, I wondered if Gypsy would raise her hand to participate. I also felt like the scene was somewhat ambiguous. When Taylor laments not having enough “gays” for their parade, the scene unfolds as follows:
Gypsy: “Are you sure there isn’t anyone else who could march in this thing? Anyone at all?
Taylor pauses (Lorelai and Donald lean in expectantly): “Nope”
Gypsy (in disbelief): “Well, there you go.”
So, was the scene suggesting Gypsy should raise her own hand or that Taylor should be raising his?! I asked Rose for her opinion:
“I decided to play that scene like Gypsy thought she and Taylor had a prior conversation about how they were both going to march in support of Gay Pride! Then, during the town meeting, Taylor either never understood what they talked about or forgot what they talked about or maybe just changed his mind! I think so much more can be explored on the topic!”
Hint hint! So, this naturally leads to the expected question, does Rose believe Gilmore Girls could come back for even more episodes?
“Will we get the chance to explore this? Who knows? I’ve been getting so much lovely feedback from fans who really really loved A Year in the Life. Of course people want to know what I think about us doing more Gilmore Girls. Well, I talked to Gypsy & Berta (and I’m one of the only people that understand Berta) and they are both ready to do more!”
And for sure we hope to see more of Gypsy and Berta in any future episodes, should Netflix jump on board! We made one revival happen, as fans, let’s go for another!
Rose concludes by sharing her thanks for you, the “best, brightest fans in the world” and her joy at being a part of this truly Global fan community!