Lauren Graham moving on after series' end
Jamie Portman, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, July 12, 2007
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- You've had this really cool, well-paying job for seven years -- and all of a sudden, you lose it. So, what do you do? Well, if your name is Lauren Graham, you're definitely not going to plunge into some sort of depression. Gilmore Girls -- the mainstay of your existence since the arrival of the new millennium -- may have been terminated this spring, but the last thing you're going to do is behave as though your life is over.
Graham knows there are actors out there who never recover emotionally or professionally from the demise of a hit TV series. But she isn't one of them. This summer, even as Gilmore Girls continues to show up on reruns, she's on the big screen, portraying Steve Carell's wife in Evan Almighty.
And before the year is out, she'll have made two more movies. She's too busy to mourn the loss of her long-running series about a zany mother-daughter relationship.
Besides, she's been aware for a long time of a "downside" to being in a hit TV show: it can make you too cozy and comfortable.
Graham, 40, believes an actor needs to be fuelled by adrenaline, and that doesn't happen very often if you have the security of a TV series.
"Part of my love of the acting job is not knowing what's coming next," she explains. "I remember having this feeling a couple of years into the show. I was like: 'There's some feeling that I miss. What is it?' " She realized she was missing the element of "the unexpected" in her career -- "of not knowing what the next thing might be and if I would get it or not get it." Right now, she actually enjoys being in the kind of situation she experienced when she was younger of not knowing what that next job would be, or whether her phone would keep ringing with offers.
"I'm sure that after a while it will drive me crazy," she laughs. "But for now, it feels really nice. I'm doing a movie right now, and I'm going to do something else in like a month, so I know what my next couple of things are, and I'm just really excited to have these different experiences. And you know, I feel that I've kind of earned that." Currently, she's finishing work on Laws Of Motion in which she costars with Matthew Perry for director Craig Lucas. "It's an independent film ... and Hilary Swank is a producer on it and has taken a supporting role just to lend her name to it. That's really cool and inspiring -- to see an an actress whose company is helping get stuff made because she believes in it. It's the story of a dysfunctional family and Matthew Perry is my husband and we have a sort of quiet marriage which is in trouble, and his brother and sister come to stay with us -- to disastrous results.
"It's kind of a dark comedy -- I'm a very conservative, shut-down character who is trying to be nice to these people she thinks are freaks. That's a cool place to be." This summer, she'll again play a wife -- this time to Greg Kinnear. The movie remains untitled, but it's a true story about "the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper.
"It's a really great story because he felt that his patent was stolen by the car companies. He spent his life, not necessarily fighting for money, which he ended up getting quite a bit of, but for the rights of inventors." Both projects attracted her because their unusual story lines supply that element of "the unexpected" which she was missing so much.
Meanwhile, in adjusting to the end of Gilmore Girls, she's also adjusting to one of the oddities of the contemporary entertainment business: because the series will continue to have a life both in reruns and later in DVD reissues, Lorelai Gilmore will remain an unchanging fixture in the lives of many fans. But Graham now knows it was time to move on.
"I felt the show was telling us it was over," she says candidly. But even so, her emotions were mixed.
"We were all feeling restless. But also you feel so attached. It's like a project that becomes a person. You want to leave that person in the right place or something." She didn't feel the show was in a rut. "We felt that to do that show cost a certain amount of time and dedication. It never got easier. Usually in years five, six, seven on a show like this, you get into a routine. The days become normal. That never happened there." Yet there remained the feeling that Gilmore Girls had run its course. "We discussed all kinds of different options ... and they tried and we tried, and at the end of the day there wasn't a way to do it any differently, and I think they (the producers) thought it was going to cost them a whole lot to renegotiate with everybody." So Gilmore Girls came to an end -- and, says Graham, "it felt like the right thing. It was one of the best jobs I ever had, so of course, it was hard to leave. But when it was done, I thought -- oh, all right!" She knows there could be new television offers down the road, but she's cautious.
"I love television ... but let's face it -- the next thing will be a disaster. It'll last three episodes. That's just the odds. That's just what happens."