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Q & A with Lauren Graham, 04.01.02 ...

Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham has managed to squeeze several lives into her 35 years. She grew up in northern Virginia, an avid equestrian and the only child of a single father, after her parents split when she was four and her mother moved to England. As an independent-minded high schooler, Graham got her first paying job--and a foreshadowing of her future--playing a pregnant teen in a Planned Parenthood instructional video.

She also became an academic--holder of a degree in English from New York's Barnard College and an MFA from Dallas' SMU--worked as a cocktail waitress at the New York and Chicago Improvs and was a hostess on the Movie Channel.

All that before she even made it as an actress.

With credits ranging from her recurring role on Caroline in the City to her place in the Seinfeld oeuvre as Jerry's Speed Dial Date to movies including Sweet November with Keanu Reeves, Graham is still best known as loving Lorelai on Gilmore Girls.

Graham sat down to talk with us about playing a single mom, reconnecting with family and being daddy's little girl.

You seem pretty energetic for someone who's been working 16-hour days.
I'm glad, because this has been a banner week. Yesterday we came in at 11 a.m. and wrapped at 3 in the morning.

Do you look forward to slowing down sometime, and do you want a family?
Yeah. I think I have one of the best jobs I could have in television, and it's fulfilling an ambition. I want it to go on for a while. I also would like to have a family--but not with these hours.

In your perfect world, what would you be doing over hiatus?
I would love to do a movie, I would love to do a play. Anything that has energy and a different challenge. If there's a downside to playing an identifiable character, it's that people think of you for parts that remind them of the character you're already doing.

You're in the homestretch of this season. Can we clear up where Rory actually is in school?
She has to be at least a sophomore by now, if not a junior. But they never really say. Like, she had a birthday, but they didn't say how old she was.

If she's a sophomore, does that mean two more seasons and goodbye? Or will they get creative about it?
We always joke about that--like, will she suddenly become a terrible student and get left back, or will Lorelai decide she needs to go back to high school, because, you know, my character never finished--and I'll be in school with her. I just hope it doesn't take a bad turn where we're out of stories so we have to do wacky things like The Gilmore Girls in Paris!

I think we kind of just take things a script at a time. We only have a very sketchy outline of where we're going. And sometimes it changes, like if we get a great actor. That's how the Scott Cohen thing happened last year. It was like a guest-star onetime thing, and then they liked it and kept bringing him back.

That was a good story. Now what?
Now you're going to see more of Rory's father in a couple of episodes toward the end of the year. There'll be some complications with that.

Would you like to have Lorelai get together with diner owner Luke (Scott Patterson)?
I think there are reasons why they would work together as a couple and reasons why they wouldn't--but it would be a huge risk to that friendship. The more people ask about it, the more I think they should prolong the friendship the way it is.

You were raised by a single dad. Does the show get it right in terms of how hard things are for a single parent?
There don't seem to be an awful lot of hardships, although part of that is just TV. We do show hints of it, things like Lorelai eating alone. Now we have this storyline of Rory getting closer to this young kid I'm not so sure about, the Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) character--and she's not talking to me about it.

How does the difficulty level stack up against your own life experience?
I feel like, in the case of my dad, a lot of stuff was easy. We got along. He'd bring me out to dinner or wherever he was going and, really, when I became a teenager and things got a little more complicated, he remarried. So, it was helpful finally to have a woman in the house when I was in high school.

Was it? Blending families and stepparenting are notoriously tough sometimes.
Yeah, it was a tough transition. But I think it was ultimately cool for me. Also, I was kind of like I am now--I had a million things going on. I was doing plays after school. I was always out of the house, and I was happy that my dad had found someone. One of the things I think I didn't realize when I was growing up was that he was probably lonely. Even though he dated, there wasn't a lot of opportunity for him to be in a relationship.

Your story about his trying to dry your Bluebird outfit in the oven for school picture day--and you having oven rack lines on the blouse in the picture--it's so touching. Then his taking you to grown-up concerts and theater--it's like a movie in itself.
It really is. And I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to publicly celebrate what he did. I think his feeling was he didn't have a choice, and he just kind of did the best he could. We're very lucky.

You have a half-brother and two half-sisters.
Yeah, my dad had two kids in his second marriage, and my mom had a daughter in her second marriage--and they're all teenagers.

Are you in touch with them all?
Yeah, I love them so much. For so long, it was just me and my dad, and then my stepmother. It was actually really helpful for the show, because I know what it's like when a baby is born and how that changes a household. I was a junior in high school when my brother was born.

I do try to stay in touch with them, especially because it must be so odd for them to see me more on TV than in real life. So, I want to keep reminding them what the reality of it is--it's really a lot of work and not all limos and red carpets.

Do you see your mom's other daughter?
I see her probably about once a year or every two years. My mom has lived in England for the last 25 years or so. We are totally friendly. She's not...I just didn't grow up with her. So, it's a different kind of relationship that continues to, well, you have to really work on getting to know a parent as an adult.

Are you still living with Frank, your cat?
Frank, sadly, has gone--I think to the coyotes.

Anyone new in your life?
I still don't talk about that.

Okay, will there have to be a marriage before this can be written?
[Laughs.] No, no. I will definitely let you know that. If there's ever an impending wedding, I will tip you.

You've told E! Online that your ideal leading man should look like he could ride a horse, sort of rugged, like a Jeff Bridges. Can we assume that goes for a leading man in real life as well?
[Laughs.] Um--yeah, sure! My family in real life is very athletic and funny and smart, so I guess that's what I grew up appreciating. And I really like talent--and someone who is ambitious and really enjoys their life and, cute.

Well, that's important, too. You seem to have undervalued your own appearance. You acted a bit surprised when someone asked if you'd ever modeled, as if that would have been impossible for you, when obviously it wouldn't.
I grew up feeling my sort of calling card was that I was fairly smart and had a good sense of humor, and I never identified myself as being, like, a "looker." I didn't feel terrible, I just felt my strengths were elsewhere. There's so much pressure about appearance and youth in my job, it's just sort of, like, enough already! I am who I am, and I do the best I can.
Credit: E! Online

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