Keiko Agena has been in a whirlwind of matrimony both on-screen and off. Gilmore Girls character, Lane Kim, gets married on April 18th, and Keiko herself exchanged vows mere months ago. Once things settle, she can kick back and enjoy being a newlywed (both scripted and not). But before that, though, she talks to PopGurls and shows that she’s as sweet and fun as Lane, the best best friend any Gilmore could ask for (even if she refuses to choose between Dave and Zack).
What do you love most about Lane?
Well, there’s two main things. One is that she’s always trying to find a way to make everything work. She’s so stubborn and she won’t give up. And she tries to balance everything and thinks she can – she tries to make everybody happy. Which of course, leads to more problems than anything. But there’s something about that side of her personality that I find attractive even though it causes her so much pain.
The other is her passion for what she wants to do. She’s a little bit blind in that way. I think I like her faults as much as I like her good points.
For six seasons, you’ve been playing a character much younger than you are. What’s frustrating about it? What’s fun about it?
I think the frustrating part was more when I first started playing Lane. When [the show] first started, I was 26 and she was 16 and that difference feels huge — more marked than it does now. Going from a high school to a college age – that feels like a big gap. As she’s grown up – she’s sort of on her own, trying to make a life for herself – those are a lot easier to relate to. (laughs) That just continues for the rest of your life… trying to define yourself, and do better – trying to make it.
We’ve seen Lane with and without her trademark glasses. What do you like better? The glasses seem to fit Lane.
They kind of are the character — I like it without the glasses, myself. But I think it’s just because those were my glasses that I wore to the audition. So I’m kind of done with the glasses but I know that a lot of people don’t necessarily agree with me.
Lane is pretty passionate about music. Has playing her influenced your musical tastes?
Little by little. [Creator] Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and [executive producer] Dan [Palladino] are such music freaks. [Producer] Helen Pai, who [Lane] is based on, handles a lot of the music aspect — especially when we get together as the on-screen band and practice and perform. She’s also a music freak. Those three get together and chitter-chatter about the great music that they love – some of that has definitely entered into my world.
Also, my husband’s a musician — so some of the stuff he listens to, I now listen to.
What are some of your current favorite bands?
I have to say, I’m partial of course, my husband is in a band called Los Desnudos. They’re this crazy jam band that has this punk vibe to it.
Is that “The Naked”?
My bits of Spanish come in handy from time to time.
Very good, very good [laughs]. I give you an A! Now I’m sort of addicted to that, and with all that’s going on [in the music when they’re performing live] – it’s hard to go back to the music that I liked to before.
I think I listen to a lot of random things – I’ve never been much of an obsessed fan of a band.
What are some of your most memorable concerts that you’ve been to?
I usually see little local bands. There’s one called The Rogers Sisters – they’re based out of New York but they came to LA once – they’re great.
And there’s Eric Weavenreid – I’m not sure if that’s how you spell his name. It’s fun music – he was an interesting fellow, he would come in a new outfit every week. He’d have a strange character and [as the show progressed] strip his wig off, [and other parts of his costume]. I liked the theatrical aspect of it (laughs).
Sometimes, depending on the night, in the middle of the show he would ask the audience if they were interested in a reading from “Teenage Monologues.” He had this book which was really, really badly written, overly dramatic monologues for young girls. It was just the best thing.
What is your favorite song to dance to?
My husband would hate this, but “Superfreak.” But anything funky is the best.
Speaking of bands, on Gilmore Girls, former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach plays Gil in “Hep Alien.” As a pretty well-known music icon in the 80s, I think it blew people’s mind to see him show up on the show. What’s it like to work with him?
Oh, he is Gil. People would think, “no, that’s not possible,” but he is soooo Gil. Yeah, yeah he was a rock star in the 80s, but he has this childlike, wonderful side to his personality that is so excited about everything. He really does make the day go by faster when he’s around. He’s just having so much fun and he’s not afraid to show it. Sometimes it’s this jaded industry and you’d think that he’d be more jaded than everybody, but he’s just like a kid and it’s a pleasure to work on a day that he’s working.
Kind of like an infectious fun?
It really is – [Sebastian] puts people in a good mood. And it’s so funny when we have days that we film in front of a crowd of extras. He’s such an entertainer, he can’t help it. (laughs) If there’s a mic in front of him and it’s on, he’ll be telling jokes and getting them all rowdy, then the A.D. has to tell everybody to quiet down.
Mrs. Kim started off as an abrasive, overbearing mother but has become quite a popular character in the past two seasons.
That’s cool. (laughs) Oh, I love that.
Mrs. Kim just… rocks. Which is probably not what fans would have expected in the first season. The relationship between Lane and Mrs. Kim has changed a lot over the six years, is that something you were expecting?
I think that’s the wonderful thing about the way [the show is written]. They’re always going for what’s not expected. Over the years, we know Mrs. Kim as this certain kind of woman. And then we come to find out four or five years into [the series] that she traveled the country in an all-girl tambourine band. It’s this wonderful little gem that only Amy and Dan can think of – it’s just odd but somehow it still make sense. That’s the best kind of treasure – something totally unexpected and yet you still believe it, it still fits into the character of who she is. Any time that these things are revealed, we have a new appreciation for people.
And I think that’s so true about our own parents. These people in our lives that we think, “yeah, yeah yeah, I know what you’re about. I know all about you, I know why you do all of these things” and then you just find out information that will blow your mind and you go “oh my gosh, they really were young at one point.” I think people become more well-rounded the more time you invest in learning about [your parents].
What are your favorite Lane/Mrs. Kim moments?
There’s a couple. [“In the Clamor and the Clangor”] where Lane gets kicked out of the house. She’s been away all night because she wanted to play a gig that she knew Mrs. Kim would never let her play. And so Lane finally comes back in the morning and walks up into her room and realizes that Mrs. Kim has spent the whole night going through the room, freaking out and finding all the little hiding places. It’s this final big confrontation of all of these years of trying to get away with everything and realizing that something has to change. That’s not going to work anymore.
Lane complains and complains and complains but she really doesn’t want to leave. And Mrs. Kim doesn’t want to kick her daughter out, but she can’t help it. And I just loved performing that scene so much and Emily [Kuroda] is a wonderful actress. You even feel for Mrs. Kim in that moment even though you would think that she’s doing a terrible, horrible thing, but she’s in so much pain over it.
The other one is that coming full-circle, when Lane moves back into the house after having the fight with Zack. [In “The Perfect Dress”], she’s bummed and sitting at the kitchen table with her mom. And her mom breaks out the alcohol (laughs), “Let’s drink together.” When I read it – I just burst out laughing. It was fun for us, as actors, When we were sitting there and having this drink together, thinking about how all those many years we’ve sat together, filming, at that kitchen table thinking “this would never happen between the two of them.” And yet it did. It was so sweet.
So, tell me, what’s the deal with the mysterious Papa Kim?
I don’t know! Where is my dad? (laughs) That should be in ALL-CAPS, with exclamation points and question marks:
“WHERE IS MY FATHER????!!!!!!?????!!!!??!?!?!???!!!?!”
I don’t know, and you know what? It’s one of those things that I don’t know how it will ever be resolved. Because I know that he existed in the beginning, because we talked about him, but then he wasn’t there at the wedding. I’m still waiting for Amy to pull a rabbit out of her hat, and how she’ll wrap that up.
Do you have a personal theory? Dead in the attic in an antique chest? Working a Vegas lounge act? What?
I think that he must be an undercover CIA agent and his cover is that he’s traveling as a missionary in different parts of the world. I’m totally kidding – I have no idea. Hopefully he doesn’t have another family somewhere, that would be sad.
And they’ve already done that with Luke and April.
In Stars Hollow, there seems to be a bit of young marriage – we already know that Dean’s didn’t go so well. How do you think Lane’s will go?
If I were to take a guess – that writer’s room is so locked, they never let any of us in – I think Lane’s will go well, partially because Dean’s didn’t. The two of them [Lane and Zack], even though they’re so opposite and in some ways, seem to be not good together – I think that they will find a way to make it work.
Do you think that Lane is too young to get married?
I don’t think so. There are challenges — one of the dangers of getting married so young is giving up your dreams, or getting settled too soon. For Lane, I don’t see her dreams getting diluted because she’s married. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to get married at young age.
It depends on the person, and the people getting married.
It really does depend on the person. I don’t think it’s one of those across-the-board things that you are doomed to failure. There are a lot of people who have gotten married at a young age that have wonderful marriages.
There’s been a lot of grumblings online about Zack’s worthiness – do you think that Zack [played by Todd Lowe], is good enough for Lane?
(laughs) Oh, it’s so hard for me to say. For her, I think so. I know that Zack is very immature, he’s got some issues. But Lane does too. They both have some growing up to do.
Lane is a bit more mature, though.
Oh yeah. I think she always will be (laughs). It’s not hard to be more mature than Zack. But, I think that there are things about Zack that make her happy, that’s all that’s important.
All things being equal — between Dave [played by Adam Brody] and Zack who would you prefer Lane to be with?
Dave Rygalski? Awww… Can I go to The O.C.? Make a little guest appearance?
Dave Rygalski [was] written in a much sweeter way [than Zack]. When we met Dave, he was willing to do anything for her and was very sweet. So it’s hard not to like him – he’s a good guy. But also, we just met him. I think it’s hard to say where that character would go. Zack’s a llittle egdy, a little rough around the edges. I love Todd – Todd is a sweetie. I can’t answer the question – it’s too hard.
You did the audiobook for Millicent Min, Girl Genius How was that different from other acting?
I really had a good time – it’s a totally different experience than being on set. You’re just sitting in a room by yourself and because it takes a little bit of time to record the book, you can get into the rhythm. It feels a little bit like your own little cocoon. I would love to do it again, actually.
Are you still working with hereandnow?
No, but some of the people that I’ve worked with in that group are putting together something new that we’ll probably test out in June. We don’t have a name for the group yet, but there’s 11 of us who really like working together in hereandnow, but are busy doing other things. We are going to try to get together this one show and see if that process works for us and see if we can do it again.
What the show about?
Because of our schedules, we’re going to create it in the space of a week. We’ll probably advertising the show before it’s set, which is one of those things is a leap of faith that it’ll all come together – but I love these people and I think that they’re talented. We have a way of working with each other – it’s somewhat improv-based – and within that week we’ll have time to put it together. We already have the bones and the framework of what kind of show it will be.
What other things do you have coming up?
Right now, I’m taking it pretty easy, actually. I just got married, so I’m enjoying life.
We eloped in December. We got married in a helicopter over Las Vegas. We didn’t tell anybody – we just snuck out there. Then called people about two days later.
What inspired the helicopter? That’s a new one.
I was going online and trying to find out what we should do. I had wanted to go to Vegas and do it that way. And the helicopter sounded like the best bet. It was just great. It was a great day, it was perfect. And when we came back – my girlfriend threw us a little party. It was like a cute little reception, so I feel like I had the best of both worlds.
That sounds lovely. This is a big year for weddings for you, both on-screen and off-screen.
I know – it’s too much, how similar both the situations were. They’re both musicians, I was roommates with both of them before we got together.
Yeah, it’s too much of life imitating art or art imitating life.
Since you eloped, did you get to have some random, vicarious thrill through Lane getting married in a more traditional manner?
Actually, it was kind of wonderful in a weird way. Because I got the chance to have this custom wedding dress — the dress goes through phases because Lorelai works on it and does all these operations on it.
One of the weirdest things was when we were doing the rehearsal — I’m in the dress and the door of the church opens and everybody stands and turns around and looks at you and that music is playing. It was the weirdest thing to walk down that aisle in the dress with people looking at you. I know it’s on set, but the fact that I just got married in real life – it was freaky. It kinda tripped me out a little but.
You know what’s interesting? In the beginning, I was like “wow, I love it!” 16 hours later and you don’t feel as excited. I was like, “yes, I’m in this dress. I’m very uncomfortable, I’m ready to be in my jeans.”
You got the best of both worlds – and I bet it reminded you of why you eloped.
Oh, it did. God bless people who can do the whole shebang, I just never wanted to do it. Every time I hear about big wedding stories, I just say, “thank god we eloped.”