Lauren Graham has given her first interview with Ausiello since the announcement that Gilmore Girls is ending.
The fast-approaching finale of Gilmore Girls is depressing on so many levels; I get a lump in my throat contemplating even a few of them. It’s the end of an era, for starters. Lauren Graham — the closest thing Hollywood is ever likely to get to another Katharine Hepburn — may never again play a character as given to bantering at breakneck speed as Lorelai. For that matter, she may never find verbal sparring partners as worthy as Kelly Bishop and Scott Patterson. But maybe worst of all, the series’ demise probably means I’ll be talking to my favorite Girl a lot less frequently. With that weighing heavily on my mind, as we began what would be our last interview of the golden Girls age, I held nothing back. In turn, neither did she.
I hear you’re going to have a lot more free time on your hands.
Lauren Graham: (Laughs) Yes, it would seem that way.
Are you relieved that it’s over?
Graham: I feel that way, which is not without feeling mixed and thankful for the experience. But, yeah, I feel relieved.
All indications were that the show was coming back for 13 episodes. What happened?
Graham: Well, you know, there was a lot that went back and forth by the time the [13 episode thing] came out. I had sort of said to them a couple of months ago that I didn’t see it coming back, and they had asked to just give them some time to figure something out that would make it work. Both Alexis and I felt tired, and also creatively like the show was in a place where we were either at the end or very close to it. We really couldn’t imagine another season. I think they were trying to tempt us with 13, which was tempting, but ultimately it just wasn’t going to work for them. We needed the situation to be so ideal, and I think it just wasn’t meant to be. I do want to say that the studio and the network were very generous and very respectful in this whole process. We just didn’t want to work the schedule we’d been working. But if we’re working a lesser schedule, what is the show? The way we’d like to have done it would not have necessarily been good for the show. Right now you have me working six to seven days an episode, and Alexis doing about the same. To do anything less than that just wasn’t going to be the same show. They tried to make it appealing for us, and we tried to be imaginative, but then at the end of the day it just felt like we were trying to do something impossible.
Continued after the jump…
Did you and Alexis band together during negotiations?
Graham: Not in a formal way, but we certainly discussed what our hopes were. We were very open with each other. Most of our conversations were, "Can we imagine coming back."
Is it true that Alexis was the harder sell?
Graham: I don’t think that’s true. I did formally say at one point, "I’m not coming back." Then they thought, "Well, can we do it with just Alexis?" I don’t want to speak for her, but we both went back and forth. Ultimately, neither of us wanted to do it without the other one.
Was that a real possibility?
Graham: If she was in a place where she wanted, like, her own show or her own spin-off… They were trying to think of everything. There was a time when we thought maybe I would produce and not be on the show in the same capacity. I’ve been at this for a long time; I feel ready to move on. But they were trying to find a way to make it work. There were a lot of scenarios. I had very open conversations with Dawn Ostroff. We tried, but they ultimately said, "You know what? This is just too complicated." And I felt so glad, because I don’t think it would’ve been the same show for another 13. We were trying to find a way we could have a slightly easier schedule, and there was really no way to do that and still have it be Gilmore Girls.
Were you happy with the show creatively this season?
Graham: I was happy with the process. I really enjoyed [working with] the writers. I felt every year, even under Amy’s leadership, that the show evolved. For the last episode, we tried to match the final shot with the first scene from the pilot, so we went back and watched the pilot — which I haven’t seen for so long. And the show now is really different from that pilot, which was more dramatic at the time than your typical WB show. And I think it evolved and got more comedic over the years; every year was an evolution. This year was strange sometimes because I had a lot less to say, and that was really weird. For some people I’m sure that was great, but I would find myself in long scenes where I was not rattling on, and it was just really weird to me. And so I did sort of question, "Are we keeping this character consistent?" And they were responsive to me.
When we spoke last year you mentioned that you’d like to someday be given a producer credit, but you said there was no way Warner Bros. would allow it. Well, this year they gave you a producer credit. What changed?
Graham: I really felt strongly that I was doing the job of a producer. And in order to imagine moving forward — which I was imaging at the time — I really hoped they would recognize the different job I was doing. And eventually they very nicely did. When the creator of the show is gone, the actors end up being the people who have been there the longest. And I got more involved with where the story was headed, and felt that I was having more of an active role. I just thought it was warranted.
I heard that you requested some changes to the finale script…
Graham: How do you hear these things Mike!? Where will all your moles go now that the show is over! (Laughs)
Good question! So, what changes did you ask for?
Graham: My feeling was [the episode] just felt too light to me — even as a season finale. I thought this should be an opportunity to say good-bye, or at least have some sort of acknowledgement of all these characters. I [also] wanted it to be more dramatic. And David Rosenthal was extremely responsive — moreso than he needed to be. So he went back and took another look at it, with more of an eye to, "How can we acknowledge all of these characters? Give everyone a moment." I felt it was important to go a little deeper.
Do you think Luke and Lorelai fans will be satisfied with how things end?
Graham: Yeah. You know, the other thing I felt strongly about is that this is a show that is ultimately about these girls. It started with this mother-daughter relationship, and we haven’t been a show where big events happen. So I always worried that there would be some pressure to… (Laughs) My extreme example was always, "Double wedding!" I just didn’t want there to be a big event. But there’s definitely a direction [with Luke/Lorelai] that I think will be satisfying.
Were you surprised at how reluctant fans were to let Luke and Lorelai go when she went off and married Christopher this season?
Graham: Well, it was a tough story to follow. We got married really impulsively. I always wanted [the Luke/Lorelai/Christopher triangle] to be as complex as it could be so that there wasn’t an obvious choice. It’s like when you go see some romantic comedy movie and you’re like, "Well, obviously she shouldn’t be with that guy." They make it too easy. I just sort of wanted them to write Christopher in a way that made it a real love triangle. But everything happened so fast. The Luke and Lorelai story is where the show started. That should be the thing they’re rooting for, because that’s what the show set up. That makes complete sense.
Conspiracy theorists maintain that you pushed for a Lorelai/Christopher romance because of your prickly relationship with Scott Patterson.
Graham: You’re the conspiracy theorist! (Laughs) I finally figured it out!
No, I’m not! You wouldn’t believe how many questions I get about this. Is it much ado about nothing?
Graham: Yes, it was overblown. I mean, I am closer, personally, to David [Sutcliffe]. And we’ve gone to dinner together. I always thought that maybe people thought I was trying to give him some sort of advantage because we’re friends. But that’s not it. Like I said, when a show is continuing for so long, I didn’t want there to be an obvious choice, because then the show is over; there’s nowhere to go. So I always argued for other [romantic complications] because I thought it made the story better. But I always felt that it would cheat the fans to not have the [Luke and Lorelai] relationship be important in the whole of the show.
How would you characterize your working relationship with Scott over the years?
Graham: Totally great. It’s a working relationship, like most of them are. But he was so great in that part. I really loved my scenes with him and the chemistry we had. Our banter was among the most fun stuff to do.
Is it bittersweet ending without Amy?
Graham: Yeah. What I hoped — and this is not to take away from David Rosenthal, who I had a really nice year with — was that she would write the finale. But that’s not the way she works. She’s either there 100 percent [or not at all]. She couldn’t just come in and pick up another story that she didn’t lay the groundwork for and finish it. I wish she had been more involved this year, because I was playing a piece of her that is so specifically her. I missed her writing.
Have you spoken to her since the announcement was made?
Graham: We e-mailed and we’re supposed to have a drink this week.
Are you going to try and get her to divulge the final four words she had planned to end the series with?
Graham: Oh, right — I forgot about that. I think she would’ve given it up to me had we known this was the end. That was the other weird thing about ending the show like this. When we finished [shooting], there was a 50/50 chance we’d be returning. So when we left the wrap party, we were like, "Bye! See ya next season!" Had we known [this was it], I think she would’ve given it up and we would’ve worked it in.
Graham: Oh, gosh. There was a real kind of high — that’s the only way I can describe it — when we’d get these big athletic speeches and then nail it after 35 takes. (Laughs) And that is a feeling that I really haven’t had with another part. To do that language all systems have to be go; you have to really have a lot of concentration. And that feeling was really exhilarating. I’ll miss that experience as an actor. And there was a specific sense of humor and music to the way [Amy] would write these speeches that I’ll really miss. And these are people that I loved, whether I see them every day or not. Alexis and I fell over laughing many, many times — partially out of exhaustion. (Laughs) We really bonded in a very unique way. And I’ll miss the feeling of [being around] a crew, all of whom I know and feel really at home with and really supported by. That was not an easy show to do and that crew was really great.
Graham: Oh my God. I literally can’t even remember the last one.
Maybe a scene that stood out?
Graham: There really were so many. The dinner tables, while a drag to shoot because it takes forever getting all the angles, were really, really fun.
So, when’s the Gilmore Girls reunion?
Graham: (Laughs) We’re totally doing the Gilmore Girls movie. I’m never, ever going to do anything else. There’s Gilmore Girls: The Musical. The line of clothing called Lorelai. And the perfume called Stars Hollow… No, you know, I’m promoting Evan Almighty, which comes out in June. And I have been reading a lot. And sleeping. (Laughs) But I’m auditioning for things, and I’m going to try and do another movie soon.
Would you do another TV series?
Graham: I would do another TV series, but not right away. I love TV. I think I’d do a half-hour single camera comedy. But I’m going to really just enjoy this time and make sure I’m ready to do something new. If I had the best thing in front of me right now I don’t know that I’d be able to be excited about it, ’cause I think [you have to make room] to let the other thing pass. So, yeah, I’d love to take a year and see what else I can do.
Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
Graham: Just that I’ve been truly thankful for their support and for their fanaticism (Laughs) and their investment in these characters through all the ups and downs of a seven-year process. I can’t tell you what a kick I get out of [hearing from the fans], especially the younger people over the years who have grown up with the show and have [developed] a bond with a family member from a different generation while watching it together. I hope when I’m 55 and I’ve been out of a job for a long time and those girls are running the studios that they remember Lorelai Gilmore.