Lots of other people. People who weren’t necessarily holding their breath for more, but may have felt like these characters deserved closure. Or maybe people who felt like they deserved closure as a reward for all their years spent watching them. But sitting with Graham, who’s as warm and witty as you’d hope and speaks at nearly the same rapid pace that defined Lorelai (albeit with a softer edge and deeper breaths and a strong enough penchant for self-reflection that you never feel like you’ve gone full “Pleasantville”), it was easy to appreciate how different something like this is for the people who made it.
On the other hand, Graham made it similarly easy to appreciate how that road goes both ways. “As much as the show means to me, it possibly means even more to the people who love it,” she said. “They’ve re-watched it many times, they’ve taken it with them to a different age, they’ve shown it to their kids…” she paused. “You can’t ever escape it, and my feeling now is that you shouldn’t try. I don’t know that I’ll ever have that kind of connection to something again. I don’t know that I’ll ever be part of something else that means so much to people, and that’s okay — I’m glad I just got one.”
She got one (at least), but now she’s had it twice. And this time around, she wasn’t going to let the moment pass her by. “I think if I made a mistake in the past, it was not appreciating what a rare opportunity ‘Gilmore Girls’ was and how much I got to be the voice of this incredibly inventive writer,” Graham confessed. “On ‘Parenthood,’ I wasn’t a muse like that. I understand that differently now. I just had more appreciation the second time around. I was so happy to be back there, and I had never measured my workday in terms of happiness — I had never thought of it that way. When we did the first show, with those 14-hour days where you’d have a 10-page walk-and-talk without any cuts and everyone had to be perfect… it was just about getting through the day. This time, it was easier to be in the moment. I found that the actors had a little more appreciation for a guy like Taylor Doose (Michael Winters). I love Sally Struthers. I was just completely in love with everybody! It was really embarrassing.”
People always ask how much an actor brings to their characters, but speaking to Graham — and reading her wonderful new memoir, “Talking As Fast As I Can: From ‘Gilmore Girls’ to ‘Gilmore Girls’” — it’s more tempting to wonder about how that dynamic might go both ways, about how much Lorelai Gilmore may have informed Lauren Graham. After all, those two women have spent a lot of time together.
“In television,” Graham explained, “you meet in the middle.” Still, she insisted that the writing changed more than she ever did, that Amy Sherman-Palladino adjusted to her leading lady like someone tinkering with the world’s fastest pianola. “We had a meeting of the minds from the beginning,” Graham said, “but she learned how I would sound doing something, and I learned what note she intended to play. I was an instrument who knew what the music of the moment was meant to be.” She paused for a moment, retracing her steps back to the initial question. “I think you become the character, and the character becomes you.”
And then there’s the physical connection, the fact that Lauren and Lorelai share a body. Lorelai may have more Bangles t-shirts in her closet, but beyond that the two of them are pretty hard to tell apart, and what happens to one of them is bound to affect the other. “It really does something to you physically,” Graham said as she discussed how much she missed the “athletic quality” of the show’s signature dialogue. “I had noticed, on ‘Parenthood,’ sometimes I’d catch myself being slumpy and sluggish, but Lorelai was ready to break into song all the time.”
If Graham and her defining character are so physically intertwined, it stands to reason that their emotional lives might be knotted as well, that Lorelai’s search for closure might dovetail with that of the actress who brought her to life. If Graham never recognized how much of herself had been given over to “Gilmore Girls” (and vice-versa), her first read of the new scripts cleared that up real quick. “I signed on without reading any of them, and it wasn’t until I sat down with these four massive scripts that I suddenly realized ‘Wait… I have no idea what’s in these!’ I mean, we had talked about the general arc, and Amy kept asking me if I had read ‘Wild,’ but I didn’t know why. And I was so petrified to read the fourth episode… not only because it was the last one, but also what if I didn’t like where Lorelai ended up? It was a life moment for me to reach the end, too.”
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