Lauren Graham on Gilmore Girls Revival: It’s “What I Wanted It To Be” – Vanity Fair
After ending their seven-season run in 2007, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore—the coffee-loving mother and daughter duo at the center of cult favorite television series Gilmore Girls—are back with a highly-anticipated revival. The long-awaited Netflix series made its official debut at its Los Angeles premiere on Friday night, where it received thunderous applause.
Cheering fans lined up outside the Bruin Theatre to catch a glimpse of stars Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel—and some waited over five hours to watch the advance screening of the first installment of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which will debut on Nov. 25. The miniseries has been split into four 90-minute parts covering each season of the year, beginning with “Winter.”
Vanity Fair caught up with the show’s cast and creators to get some new details ahead of the heartfelt dramedy’s return next week.
“It’s been amazing to revisit these characters all these years later. When the show ended, I wasn’t done. I was left wanting more. So it’s just incredible to get to do it again,” said Graham. “I love playing Lorelai. I always felt a kinship with this part. There’s a joy and a wonder in how she approaches everything. She’s always upbeat, and I love her sense of humor and the lens through which she sees the world. It’s very uplifting and an energizing part to play. It’s really one of the best written roles.”
For Alexis Bledel, reprising the role of Rory—which she began playing at the age of 18–was an offer she couldn’t refuse—especially since it meant another chance to work with Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writer-director husband, Daniel Palladino, who was also an executive producer on the original series. Though they had full creative control over the revival, both had left the show after its sixth season due to contractual disputes with The CW. The show was canceled a year later due to low ratings.
“Coming back was a rare opportunity, and a surreal experience,” said Bledel. “I am proud of what we have accomplished. This was really Amy’s vision, and the story she has created is something very real and honest, especially with my character. You will see Rory as still the hard worker working in journalism, but she’s a little lost and doesn’t have everything figured out in life.”
The revival picks up with the residents of Stars Hollow nearly a decade after the original show wrapped. Viewers will experience the same witty, rapid-fire pop culture commentary from Lorelai and Rory that made the original such a touchstone—but the new series also sees a deeper and more complex rift between Lorelai and her mother Emily (Kelly Bishop), due largely to the death of Richard Gilmore. Actor Edward Herrmann, who played the family patriarch, died from brain cancer in 2014. His passing has been incorporated into the show, and is the central storyline in the first installment.
“The biggest difference is all these people are grown-up. There’s still a lot of jokes and light moments, but this time it has a greater depth,” said Graham. “There’s death and sadness and more love and emotion. I cried the whole way through the entire script. I thought it was just beautiful and fitting and what I wanted it to be and hoped for.”
With expectations high, will fans be as satisfied as the cast members? The show runners teased whether loose ends will be answered in the follow-up series. “There is some closure, but life goes on,” said Palladino. “So there’s no neat wrap up in anything that we ever write whether it’s Gilmore Girls or any other project because life is. . .” “Messy,” Sherman-Palladino added.
A big question lingering from the series finale is the relationship status between the show’s central couple. Ten years down the line, are Lorelai and Luke (Scott Patterson) more than just friends? Thankfully, in “Winter,” viewers will find out they are no longer estranged; instead, they’re living together.
“I’m rooting for Luke and Lorelai to stay together,” said Patterson. “As you saw during the original run of the show, they go through a lot together and they still do. She really needs somebody to ground her and let her know that he isn’t going to go away, and Luke has become that somebody. He loves this woman, and he believes she is his soul mate, and she realizes that.”
As for Rory’s love life, all three of her ex-boyfriends return for the four-part series. Fans are eager to find out if she ends up choosing Team Dean (Jared Padalecki), Team Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) or Team Logan (Matt Czuchry).
“I’m mostly Team Rory and Lorelai. It’s not about the guys—this is about them, and being independent women,” said Czuchry, who portrays the wealthy playboy who fell in love with Rory at Yale. “Each boyfriend came in Rory’s life at the right time, and gave her the right things that she needed to grow as a person and move forward. In the original series, Logan asked Rory to marry him, and she said no. That felt like the right decision for Rory at that particular time. She needed to focus on her[self] and start her career. That shows her strength. I will say that Logan will always love Rory, maybe more so than Rory [loves him]. But they may end up at a very special place.”
Friday night’s premiere was a special place to be for nearly all of the show’s original cast members. Kelly Bishop (Lorelai’s mother), Liza Weil (Rory’s competitive friend Paris Geller), Keiko Agena (Rory’s best friend, Lane Kim), David Sutcliffe (Rory’s father, Christopher), Yanic Truesdale (Lorelai’s co-worker Michel) and Sally Struthers (Stars Hollow resident Babette) were all in attendance to celebrate and reunite for one last time. After the screening, guests gathered at UCLA’s Dickson Court, where a pop-up version of Stars Hollow had been re-created, featuring the show’s trademark gazebo. Notably absent from the premiere was Ventimiglia and Padalecki, as well as Melissa McCarthy, who played Lorelai’s best friend, Sookie St. James.
With all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls available to stream on Netflix, Czuchry is thrilled that a new generation is discovering the series. But seeing his younger self is still a “weird” experience, if only because of his wardrobe. “I can’t believe I wore that many turtlenecks,” he said. “Here’s a spoiler alert: I’m not wearing turtlenecks in these four chapters!”