Exclusive: 'Gilmore' girl Lauren Graham on her big TV comeback

Lauren-Graham-interview_lSometimes the way the TV biz works leaves me scratching my head, going, “Huh?” Other times, I get it… it’s fate. This is definitely one of those. Because although ABC passed on Lauren Graham’s comedy pilot, she’s still returning to the tube this season, on NBC’s buzzy Parenthood series. And here, in her first interview since agreeing to step in for Maura Tierney as single mom Sarah, the Gilmore Girls gabber explains why she decided to join the all-star ensemble, why her new character is nothing like Lorelai, and what her new gig means for that much-discussed-by-me Gilmore movie.

Why did you decide to take the part?
LAUREN GRAHAM: It’s the best thing I’ve read. It’s was really that simple.

Any trepidation about signing another long-term TV commitment?
GRAHAM: Yeah. I’ve been out of that work for, I guess it’s been two-and-half years now. I did a Broadway show, I did three movies… I [enjoyed] working freelance like that. So, strangely, as much as I’ve been looking for a series almost since I ended that last one, it was almost like, “But wait… ” I’ve enjoyed [the variety] of projects I’ve done. That’s hard to think about giving up.

Why join an ensemble instead of continuing to pursue your own vehicle?
GRAHAM: Well, it’s just so good. As I said to [executive producer] Jason Katims, I’m used to seeing my character on every single page [of the script]. But my favorite dramas were ensembles like The West Wing and Studio 60… This was put in front of me and I responded instinctually. It was just something I really wanted to do.

Sarah shares some things in common with Lorelai.
GRAHAM: She’s a woman. She probably wears jeans. [Laughs]. She’s a single mom, yes, but I don’t think the tone of the show is the same. The sound of Gilmore Girls, that voice, is so unique to Amy [Sherman-Palladino]. This show has its own voice. It’s a grown-up show, too. It doesn’t have some of the more whimsical elements of [Gilmore Girls]. It’s more realistic.

You’ll probably have fewer lines of dialogue to memorize, too.
GRAHAM: [Laughs] Jason’s language is very elegant and economical — and that’s not to put [Gilmore Girls] down. Nothing will ever be like that. The thing that was most important to me is to have a writer who I feel can really write something that I’m dying to do, ’cause that’s what I had last time. And this is how that felt to me. So whether or not it seems like the logical next step, I just really responded to the material and that’s where I had good luck last time. [When I considered doing Gilmore], people were like, “Oh, it’s the WB” and “Oh, you’re playing a mom.” I’ve had good luck just following my instincts.

Will anything change about the character now that you’re playing her?
GRAHAM: I’m getting together to talk with Jason this weekend. That’s one of the key things [I liked] about this job was he was like, “I really want to hear what you want [this role] to be.” We’re still kind of working that out a little bit. What I said to him is I’m interested in the flawed part of her. For seven years I played someone who people come up and say, “I wish my mom was just like Lorelai.” That’s not this character. She’s not perfect. She’s funny and smart and she’s doing a pretty good job, but she’s struggling, and that’s what I’m drawn to. In my experience, it’s the less noble parts of someone that are the most interesting, especially over a long story.

Now for the big question: Does this mean you won’t have time to shoot the Gilmore Girls movie?
GRAHAM: [Laughs] Mike, [the movie's] in the can. It’s coming soon to a theater near you.

Comments (78 total) Add your comment
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  • CraigB

    The interview we’ve been waiting for…

  • Amy

    I’m so happy Lauren Graham is coming back to TV! Maybe she’ll finally get the Emmy nomination she deserves.

  • Nicole

    I’m so glad to hear the excitement Lauren has for this show. I can’t wait to see her back on tv. She’s too talented to stay away this long.

  • Isabel Brown

    I’m pleased for Lauren that she has a new show and is excited about it, but it’s a shame that she didn’t see fit to make any reference to Maura Tierney. If Maura hadn’t had to pull out because of her health problems, Lauren would not be in the show.

    • jmo

      I agree. Maura’s stint on ER was good, but I thought she was very funny in News Radio and in movies like Liar Liar. It would’ve been nice to see her in this series. But it’s such a pleasure for me to see Lauren on the TV again. She’s so unique, a missing player in the TV landscape for sure. It’s a good replacement.

  • Kitty G.

    Isabel – interviews don’t happen exactly as you see them printed. They’re usually much, much longer and edited down. She may indeed have said something about MT, but it was edited out.

  • Devon

    So I assume they’ll have to reshoot the pilot – which NBC used to air clips from in their initial commercials… I’m curious if there were any other episodes that would have to be reshot?

    • bigbowood

      I doubt they’ll reshoot the whole pilot, just the scenes that Maura shot. Re-casting happens A LOT after pilots get picked up. Sally Field, for instance, replaced Betty Buckley on Brothers and Sisters, Peri Gilpin replaced Lisa Kudrow on Frasier, Joe Rogan replaced Ray Romano on NewsRadio, the list goes on…

  • Bella

    YAY! I love having Tivo record Gilmore Girls on ABCFamily all week long for me – it’s so nice to be able to watch it whenever I want. But it’ll be SO nice to see new Lauren material!

    And I saw her on Broadway and she was amazing!! Love her!

  • Mike

    This interview took away a lot of the worry I had about her joining Parenthood. I love Katim’s writing on Friday Night Lights, and was worried that adding a Gilmore Girl character would throw off the show. It sounds like she’s interested in making the character different and more flawed, which should be perfect for this. I’m on board now.

  • VRO

    Love the shout out for Studio 60.

    • Laura

      I agree. A tragically underrated show, and she was fabulous on it! I am happy to see her back on TV though, so all is good!

    • Kaley

      I’m not surprised that she loved that show. Matthew Perry is one of her closest friends.

  • jyobe

    That’s awesome news about the movie. When is the release date?

    • Jamie

      I interpret sarcasm in her comment about the GG Movie. I love GG and would LOVE to see a movie but I’m not holding my breath. I think Lauren Graham & Alexis Bledel are happy with the way the series ended. I think they have moved on from GG. Also, Dan & Amy Palladino were no longer writers for the final season & it left some bitterness toward The CW. Movie wouldn’t be worth it w/out Amy & Dan as writers.

      • Kaley

        Yeah it was a sarcastic comment. Lauren Graham and Amy Sherman-Palladino have both said that they are UNHAPPY with the way the series ended, but Lauren doesn’t seem to be interested in doing a Gilmore Girls movie because she has moved on.However, Michael Ausiello interviewed Amy not too long ago and she said she would be open to doing a GG movie. That way, she could end the series the way she wanted to. Haven’t heard much from Alexis or Dan.

  • rush

    Now for the big question: Does this mean you won’t have time to shoot the Gilmore Girls movie?
    GRAHAM: [Laughs] Mike, [the movie's] in the can. It’s coming soon to a theater near you.
    im sorry but im not american so i dont get the joke, does this mean that there IS gonna be a movie?????????????

    • Liz

      What country do you live in that you don’t understand sarcasm and how can you possibly enjoy Gilmore Girls if you don’t get sarcasm?

      • Emma from australia

        WOW! snarkey! i don’t get the joke either not because i’m incapable of sarcasam, just the phrase “in the can” usually mean it’s finished where i’m from so i was confused about what she meant too…. hate how some people use the ananimity of the net to be so rude!

      • adrybaba

        Jesus, you really think that in every country GG is in English? How old are you???

      • adrybaba

        my reply is for Liz!!

  • sissa

    Yeah, not a single word about Maura. I didn´t like it either, Isabel.

    • jenn

      I agree! If you ask me, lauren Graham is a poor man’s Maura Tierny, and she wouldn’t even have this job were it not for Maura’s health. She wasn’t even their second choice, right? Let’s show some respect to Maura, k, and not act like you got the job because you were the best for it.

      • maiv

        I love Lauren Graham. A lot of times they say this stuff in the beginning of the conversation but Aus probably just didn’t print it. You’re just being disrespectful yourself.

      • jenn

        suck it, maiv.

      • Amy

        It was already covered in many other articles how unfortunate it was that Maura’s health issues ment she had to drop out. We all expressed regret and wished her well. But it’s time to move on. It is possible to be happy for another actress. Jeeze, she was answering the questions that the interviewer asked so calm down.

  • mk

    Sadly, no, rush. she’s teasing him about his delusional obsession with a movie getting made.

  • Lars

    “Sometimes the way the TV biz works leaves me scratching my head, going, “Huh?” Other times, I get it… it’s fate.”

    Wow, Michael, can you be more gross? I don’t think Maura Tierney’s illness should be described as some kind of cosmic “fate” that befell her to enable some other actress to take her part on a TV show.

    Have some tact. Yeesh.

    • Virgil’s Diner

      I don’t think he was referring to Tierney’s illness, but the fact that Lauren Graham’s pilot didn’t get picked up. A lot of people were shocked that anything with her name on it would get passed over. Had the show been picked up, however, Graham wouldn’t have been available for this part. I believe that’s the fate part he was referring to. [My apologies to Michael Ausiello for speaking for him. May he not send the wrath of Gargamel upon me if I am mistaken...]

    • Luddite

      Not just her pilot not getting picked up, but Helen Hunt passing on this project. Maura Tierney was out of this project LONG before Lauren Graham got involved. I can only speak for myself, but when I heard Tierney was out, my first thought was “that sucks/hope she’s okay” (she was the reason I was interested in the first place). My second thought was, “hey, can Lauren Graham step in?”

  • Liz

    With Jason Katmis (Friday Night Lights) and Lauren Graham on board, this is a MUST SEE for me.

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