Exclusive Q&A: Lauren Graham on Broadway, 'Gilmore' movie, and her big TV comeback
Gilmore Girls fans missing their weekly dose of Lauren Graham are in luck: Beginning next month, you’ll be able to see her eight times a week — and in person, to boot! As you may have heard, the tube superstar will make her Broadway debut as ’30s nightclub singer Miss Adelaide in a revival of Guys & Dolls on March 1 (previews begin Feb. 4; click here to buy tix). To mark this momentous occasion, my longtime BFF and onetime co-star kindly agreed to lift the restraining order long enough for me to grill her about her vocal experience (she has some!), her forthcoming ABC comedy (it’s not Men in Trees 2.0!), and a possible return to Stars Hollow (keep hope alive!).
AUSIELLO: So, Broadway… Are you excited?
LAUREN GRAHAM: It is really exciting. And honestly, there’s not a day
that I go to work and don’t feel it. There are so many things you hope
will feel like something — in showbiz, especially. And this does.
Nothing’s really linear. There’s no big plan. [Guys & Dolls]
actually came up a long time ago, and I wasn’t all that familiar with
it. I started working on it, just as a project, and I really loved it.
And when it finally came together I was ready to do it. It wasn’t like
I was looking for a Broadway show, and this thing came along.
How’s the singing coming? I think the only time I’ve heard you sing was in an episode of Gilmore Girls.
Yes, but Lorelai was drunk! People keep saying that to me and I’m like,
“Don’t gauge my singing ability by Lorelai singing drunk in the seventh
season. That wasn’t my Broadway debut.” [Laughs] It’s hard to talk
about. I auditioned. I’ve been training as a singer for a long time. I
did musicals in high school and college. I did summer stock. I got my
equity card before any of my other unions — I thought I was on that
path. But I stopped for a while. Also, this is not a legit soprano
part; I can’t sing that music. But this is something I’m enjoying
doing. I really connect with this character. I really like her. I feel
comfortable in this medium. I feel happy to be here. It’s been a
challenge, but I’m really enjoying it.
What has been the most challenging aspect?
It’s physical in a different way. I was used to doing 14-hour days on
Gilmore Girls, but this is a different concentration. And we’re
emphasizing the burlesque aspect; it’s less ’50s supper club. So that’s
been a challenge. [Adopting a British accent] I haven’t performed a
strip act in any of my work previously.
What’s it been like working with Oliver Platt?
I love him so much. I feel like I’ve got the perfect acting partner for
this job. He’s the most loving, funny, smart man. We’re having a great
time. And I think we have good chemistry.
Are you prepared for the amount of Gilmore Girls merchandise you’re going to have to autograph outside the stage door after each show?
[Laughs] I am. I’m prepared.
Anything you would prefer not to sign? Now’s your chance to veto it.
The things that I find offensive are pictures of me from the late 90s,
wearing tailored suit jackets and bad hair. Just on principal I’ll be
like, “I look too bad in that picture; I don’t want to sign it.”
Speaking of Gilmore Girls…
Mike, Gilmore Girls is over. [Laughs] You’ve got to move on.
Let’s just talk about the movie rumors…
What are you talking about! Mike, you start those rumors. You start
these rumors just like you started the Wonder Woman movie rumor and
then you call me and say, “There are rumors out there that say the
following…” I’m onto your little game, Ausiello!
I will cop to helping fuel talk that you might headline The Office
spin-off. I said you’d be great for it and it kind of turned into a
And they did talk to me about it after you wrote that. But then it became a totally different show.
Back to the Gilmore movie thing, in my defense, [series creator] Amy [Sherman-Palladino] mentioned to me that she was open to pursuing it.
It’s hard. I don’t know what we could give the fans that would satisfy
them. It’s going to be like, “Grandmother Lorelai pulls into town… ” I
don’t know what the story would be. But as with everything I do I my
career, if something comes up that inspires me, then
I’ll consider it. Plus, these are people who I love so much.
I also think a lot of fans…
…were disappointed with how it ended.
But for me, when you have a bad breakup, going back and dating the guy
again is not really going to change the breakup. It didn’t end in the
way I think any of us would have liked — and that is a disappointment
for me as well. And a sadness, really. When the reruns come on now
I think about the path it took, and it makes me sad. I wish we would
have known it was the end when we shot the final episode, quite simply.
But we can’t go back and change that. And I’m not sure a movie would
help. What helps me is to try and do other things in my life and do
work that I like. I don’t know that going back to the show is the
answer. But there are people who are still really devoted to it, and I
understand that, too.
You just signed a deal to star in your own ABC comedy. How did that come about?
Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Alex Herschlag (Will &
Grace) cooked up this idea that’s so wrong it’s right. It’s the first
thing — after taking many meetings and thinking long and hard about
what kind of thing I’d like to do — that made me laugh. Everything
about it made me laugh.
You play a self-help guru who doesn’t practice what she preaches. It’s already drawing comparisons to Men in Trees.
It’s a darker comedy… more like Arrested Development. Men in Trees
was a really well written dramedy, but it was soft and sweet — kind of
in the tone of Gilmore Girls. This is more comedic. It’s a totally
different tone. And I don’t live in Alaska.
How is the show darker?
She’s a self-help guru who is truly a mess and is obsessed with [her
ex-boyfriend] who dumped her. It’s really funny because it’s so
backwards. I went to Barnard College and I did my feminist studies, but
I think what’s funny about this character is she is deeply flawed. I
loved Lorelai, but she wasn’t deeply flawed. She was very easy to root
for. This is a slightly more twisted central character.
What’s the timeline for it?
I’m committed to [Guys & Dolls] through October. But we’re trying
to figure out if I can shoot [the pilot] while I’m doing the show.
Before I let you go, any other dream projects I can say you’re rumored to be attached to?
[Laughs] Oooh, good question. I’ll have to think about that.