Mrs. Kim Shares All: 5 little-known facts about making Gilmore Girls with Emily Kuroda
Gilmore Girls' strictest matriarch recalls the humor and complexity behind her character
If you haven’t heard, Remarkist is an audio-first community hub where fans host watch parties, chat with stars and showrunners, create original fan content, and more, founded by John Cabrera, who played Brian Fuller in the TV show Gilmore Girls.
Throughout our Super Sensational Summer Spectacular festival, Remarkist has invited Gilmore Girls cast members to watch episodes of the show and chat about their experiences. Last week, we had the pleasure of inviting a Gilmore legend to join us: Emily Kuroda, who portrayed the fierce, loving, and entrepreneurial Mrs. Kim.
Remarkist members joined our virtual couch for an intimate conversation with Kuroda. Here’s what we learned:
Kuroda was directed to play Mrs. Kim “like a general.”
When asked if she was given any specific direction on how to portray the Kim matriarch, Kuroda shared one specific memory: “She’s kind of like a general, so that’s all I did.” Suddenly, the show’s references to Patton and Full Metal Jacket make complete sense.
“When I first went in, I did the Korean accent with the pausing and everything. She goes, ‘Oh no. No accent. Be a general,’” said Kuroda, referring to the key tip she received from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.
In further shaping Mrs. Kim’s mannerisms, Kuroda went straight to the show’s primary inspiration for Lane and Mrs. Kim: producer Helen Pai and her mother. Kuroda noted that Pai’s mother was totally different but very helpful in building out the character.
Kuroda was starstruck the first time she met Emily Bishop.
During this watch party, we saw an unstoppable force meet an immovable object: in “Emily in Wonderland,” Emily Gilmore comes to Stars Hollow for a visit to Kim’s Antiques, where she faces off against Mrs. Kim to get the best possible price on an antique cabinet.
Though Mrs. Kim held her own on screen, Kuroda was incredibly nervous to meet Bishop, a Broadway legend who had originated the role of Sheila in A Chorus Line. Kuroda herself had previously performed the same role with a prominent Asian-American theatre troupe in Los Angeles. “The first time I met Kelly Bishop, I almost couldn’t talk because I did Sheila at East West Players and it’s her story in A Chorus Line.”
“I remember one of the first things she said to me,” said Kuroda. “She was looking at her nails and she goes, ‘I refuse to pay money to get a manicure, for God’s sake. I do it myself.’” Over their many years on Gilmore Girls, Kuroda was delighted to realize how down-to-earth Bishop really was.
She hit Alexis Bledel with a broom—at Alexis’s request!
It turns out Alexis Bledel is as quick and enthusiastic a study as Rory Gilmore. In the episode “Secrets and Loans,” Mrs. Kim frantically chases Rory out of Kim’s Antiques for fear of the Gilmores’ termite problem.
Kuroda recalled a hilarious memory about filming that scene: “So I was just kind of hitting the ground and she says, ‘Um, Emily, can you really hit me with your broom? It'd be easier.’ So I did!”
Major respect to Bledel for going Method here!
Kuroda is one of the few Gilmore Girls actors that was ever allowed to improvise.
Unlike many shows where actors can improvise here and there, Gilmore Girls famously always stuck to the script; all dialogue was verbatim.
Kuroda is one of the rare actors who was able to make her own contribution to the script during filming, and it’s a memorable one.
After Lane’s Korean wedding in “I Get a Sidekick Out of You,” Mrs. Kim dutifully sends her mother off in a cab before Lane’s Christian wedding at the town church. With one word, she starts a stampede of 62 Koreans through the town square: “GO!”
Recalling that moment, Kuroda said, “Oh, you know, I made that up. In the script, I see my mother go away and I say, ‘bye bye.’ Yeah. And then I added go, I hiked up my hanbok and I ran towards a church.”
It was so funny, the Palladinos let it slide.
She thinks Keiko Agena makes a great blonde.
Though a funky purple hairdo would invoke the wrath of Mrs. Kim, Kuroda thinks Keiko Agena can rock a bold new color. To familiarize herself with her on-screen daughter’s body of work, Kuroda watched a movie in which Agena plays a spunky 16-year-old who goes full Marilyn. “She looks good as a blonde, Keiko,” said Kuroda. “One of the first times I saw her in a movie, she was blonde. Very cute.”
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