Once upon a time, HBO’s Girls might have ended up a very different cultural phenomenon, between Amy Schumer testing for then-miniscule role as Shoshanna, and other near-misses. Now, ahead of the sixth and final season, Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke reveal that Jessa almost had to be abruptly written out.

The tidbit emerged during an “exit interview” of sorts with Glamour, as Kirke explained how she’d almost quit the series before Season 2 began production. The character abruptly got married (to Chris O’Dowd’s “Thomas-John,” no less) at the end of Season 1, which could have served to write Jessa out altogether.

So – what then, was the panic?

JEMIMA: Season two was kind of traumatic for me. I think for everyone. And I know that I was a bit of a tyrant myself.

LENA: I think it’s time for us to disclose to the world that, like, three days before season two, Jemima tried to quit. [Laughter.]

JEMIMA: Yeah. My sense of who I was and what I wanted was really thin. I really wasn’t sure what the f-ck I was doing.

LENA: I remember being in a cab. And Jemima called me. She was like, “I have to tell you something. It’s not a big deal. I don’t want you to freak out. I want to quit the show.” [Laughter.]

The full talk proved reasonably candid about the occasional on-set drama, including the abrupt departure of actor Christopher Abbott after Season 2. Abbott made a surprise return as Charlie in Season 5, of which co-creator Jenni Konner said “We’ve healed. We’ve all healed,” with Dunham adding that she and Abbott text frequently.

The sixth and final season of Girls will premiere on February 12, but would the series have gone very differently without Jessa? Watch the latest trailers below.

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