Jemima Kirke & Sasha Lane Are Not Who You Think They Are, Actually

The 'Conversations With Friends' stars tell marie claire about the misconception they often face.
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When you think of the acting powerhouse that is Jemima Kirke, you’d be inclined to assume she’s not unlike the outspoken, confident, screen-dominating characters she portrayed in Girls and Sex Education. The same goes for Sasha Lane, whose appearances in the likes of American Honey and Utopia cemented her as the go-getter, badass Hollywood extravert. 

But in real life, these two actors couldn’t be more different. 

I sit down with them over Zoom inside the comfort of our own homes ahead of the release of their new series, Conversations With Friends. Kirke is in her study, and as we speak, one of her cats, Hugo, meows loudly before knocking over her camera. Sasha sits in her kitchen, a large mug of tea in hand. It’s like a catch up with old friends—not major international actors. 

And that, as I soon found out, is exactly how they like it. 

When they were both signed to play Bobbi and Melissa in the book-to-television adaption of Sally Rooney’s famous novel, the pair were well aware their characters were right on par with their previous work. Bobbi is a loud, proud, confident individual who is the best friend and former lover of main character, Frances. 

Melissa, meanwhile is the self-assured wife of Nick. It’s she who happily asks Frances and Bobbi into her home, which sparks the central narrative of the affair between Frances and Nick. 

Kirke explains that she decided to direct message Lane via Instagram to kick things off before they began filming. 

“I’d seen your work and I did a quick browse through your Instagram and I was like, ‘I think I’m gonna go out on a limb here,” Kirke says. 

“What I was pleasantly surprised by is that with Sasha and I, the thing that we have most in common is that people mistake us for these sort of wild and free spirited rebels.

“It’s very odd because [viewers] saw this on screen, and they think it’s who we are—it’s this tired archetype that they’ve put on us, I don’t really relate to it… as far as being free spirited goes, I am riddled with anxiety.” 

(Credit: Amazon)

Lane adds that her character, Bobbi, was so different to her that she actually found acting some of her scenes to be borderline frustrating. 

“The confidence [of Bobbi]—it killed me! I had to remind myself to walk with my head up,” Lane explains.

“She laughs all the time and that’s the opposite of me. It was annoying.” 

But ever the talented actors, both women have their methods for playing these parts (and given the incredible success of their previous roles, they’ve obviously nailed it). 

“Sometimes you get a scripted line and you’re like, ‘I cannot say this,'” Kirke says of the confrontation at being someone completely unlike herself on-screen.

“When that comes up, I know that this is a moment where Melissa and I diverge—but it’s not like I have to pretend, it’s just that I have to find a way to do it—like if its confidence, which I don’t always have, I try to remember or think of a time where I did have confidence, and I think about what that looks like.”

(Credit: Amazon)

Kirke also adds of Lane, whom she’s grown closer to after filming the series together, that the 26-year-old brought something different, and something better to the character of Bobbi. 

“Watching you and getting to know you and seeing how you’d been playing [Bobbi], you brought something to her that wasn’t written in the book: You brought a moral compass.

“It’s something you relate to, you’re a lot more principled and moral and straight down the line than people would expect.” 

Lane and Kirke also had a much bigger element of their lives to bond over, too—they’re both mothers. 

Kirke, 37, is mother to 11-year-old Rafella and 9-year-old Memphis, while Lane welcomed a baby daughter in 2020. 

“You know when you first meet someone and you have that bullshit conversation of like, ‘Hey how its going?’—[Kirke and I] started talking about motherhood stuff and the stress of that, and I was like ‘okay I love this girl’,” Lane explains. 

Laughing, Kirke adds, “My favourtie sentence I got out of that [first] conversation was when we agreed: I love my kid, but I can’t stand motherhood.”

In Conversations With Friends, Kirke and Lane’s chemistry is there from the get go, and it’s not hard to see why going by the conversation I just had with them. As their characters Melissa and Bobbi explore a relationship themselves, albeit one without longevity, it’s clear that these two were meant to come together for this, and to discover the misconception they commonly face together: They’re just like a whole bunch of other anxiety-riddled introverts out there, to coin the phrase. 

If you ask us, the world needs an entire series written by, and based on them. They might not be the super-loud, extremely confident types in real life—but they, and everyone else like them, are no sidekicks, either. 

You can sign up to watch every episode of Conversations With Friends on Amazon Prime Video for free with a free trial, here.

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