It’s hard to imagine Gilmore Girls without the presence of the proud patriarch Richard Gilmore, so beautifully played by Edward Herrmann, who died on Dec. 31, 2014. And if we feel that way as viewers, imagine how Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, and Kelly Bishop felt doing scenes inside Emily and Richard’s living room for the Netflix revival.
Which is why, one afternoon in early March, when the lights suddenly went out on the Gilmore house set (where a massive portrait of Herrmann as Richard now hangs) on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles, some cast members felt like Herrmann might have been paying a visit.
“I said, ‘Ed was that you?’ ” recalls Bishop who, as Emily Gilmore, did the majority of her scenes on Gilmore Girls with Herrmann. “Lauren said, ‘It was Ed.’ I just feel like he’s here. Besides the script and the way we all feel about him, the giant portrait is all calling him to come to the set.”
During a break in shooting that scene, Graham sat down to talk about being back as Lorelai Gilmore without her TV father. “This is an emotional experience. It has the loss of a person I love around it. I went to dinner with Ed frequently. It was a real loss of a friend,” says Graham, her eyes filling with tears. (“I didn’t used to be [emotional]! I blame Parenthood!” she says with a laugh.)
Bishop felt his absence strongly as well. “It’s sad without my darling Edward Herrmann,” she says, recalling happier days. “We used to do our crossword puzzle together in the makeup trailer. If we had a short day and were feeling festive or belligerent, we’d go across the street and have a martini together.”
Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino chose to honor Herrmann through the storytelling. “It’s safe to say that the death of Richard Gilmore, the death of Ed Herrmann, looms large over everything,” she says of the four 90-minute movies coming to Netflix later this year. “Dealing with the death of Richard is going to impact all of them, because when somebody close to you dies your whole life comes into a weird focus for a minute. Like, what direction am I walking?
Even Scott Patterson, who plays Luke Danes, and didn’t have too many scenes with his almost father-in-law, was moved by how his death influenced the revival’s storylines. “[Herrmann’s death] left a big void, but Amy honored it beautifully. He’s throughout … these stories. It’s a wonderful homage to him as a person and to his character as well. It’s nice to have him around.”