Growing up in New York City, I knew about Jemima Kirke long before we ever met. We both went to art-centric private schools in Manhattan, and Jemima was a myth you heard about during Monday-morning homeroom. Her dad was a rock drummer, and her mom owned a vintage boutique that supplied dresses toSex and the City, so it was ridiculously unfair that Jemima was also stunningly gorgeous. Normally, this breed of legendary cool chick meets some tragic fate after graduation, or moves away and is never heard from again until she appears in a Japanese perfume ad under a different name.
Somehow, Jemima has avoided both fates, and she’s being talked about now more than ever, mostly because of her role as a fun-loving party gal on HBO’s Girls, which revolves around the stories of four young women who keep trying and failing at relationships, work, and life (it also makes dorks on the internet very angry for some reason). In real life, Jemima is a wife, the mother of a young daughter (with another baby on the way, obviously), and a visual artist, so when Richard Kern and I drove out to her family home in East Hampton to photograph her (at eight months pregnant), I was curious as to whether she had been wholly domesticated by this point. I also wanted to see if she’s still pretty. She is, and she’s got her shit together so much that it’s somewhat upsetting.
VICE: I ran into you when you were 18 and back home for the holidays from the Rhode Island School of Design. It was at an afterparty for our friend’s band Dopo Yume. From the moment I met you I’ve always seen you as this beautiful, glamorous—
Jemima Kirke: Wait, what happened at the afterparty? Now I want to know. Do you remember?
Well, I can tell you and it can be off the record if you want…
No, it’s fine.
We were at Black and White, the bar, and obviously neither of us was old enough to be there. We were introduced by a mutual friend, hit it off, and then you asked me to go into the bathroom with you.
Oh yeah! I do remember that, and that you seemed somewhat impressionable at the time. So I thought, “I could probably get this girl to do drugs with me.” But I don’t think there was anyone else at the bar…
You offered me bumps off your keys while you were peeing on the toilet. And I recall thinking, Who the hell is this girl? Then when I saw the show and watched you doing the same thing, minus the drugs, it brought it all back.
The character I play is not so far from me. I mean, fundamentally she is, and some of her behavior might have been taken from things I’ve done, but—
But now you’re 27 years old and about to be the mother of two. How did this happen? Most people our age who grew up in the city are still kind of fucking around—living at home and not pursuing any of their passions, if they even had any to begin with.
I think that way of life stopped working for me really quickly. Some people know how to balance things, at least enough to be able to continue messing around, but I didn’t. I was very all-or-nothing about it, and you burn out really quickly if you keep going that way. It really fucked me.
How did you get into acting?
My friend Lena [Dunham] asked me to be in a movie that she was making with her parents’ money calledTiny Furniture. She didn’t have enough to pay anyone, and I guess it was slim pickings, so she asked me to be part of it and it was a success. Afterward she was offered the TV show and invited me to work on it. I never thought it’d go as far as it has.