The ATX Television Festival played host to a “Gilmore Girls” reunion of epic proportions on Saturday night, with creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, exec producer Daniel Palladino and stars Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Kelly Bishop, Scott Patterson, Keiko Agena, Liza Weil, Jared Padalecki, Matt Czuchry, Yanic Truesdale, Liz Torres, Jackson Douglas, Todd Lowe, John Cabrera, Danny Strong and Milo Ventimiglia reuniting to look back on their time in Stars Hollow and where their careers have taken them since the show ended in 2007.
Here’s what we learned from the raucous, fast-talking panel:
Despite Patterson’s recent comments about a potential revival, Sherman-Palladino burst fans’ bubble by admitting “there’s nothing in the works at the moment.” However, she promised, “If it ever happened, I promise we’d do it correctly … Nobody here hates each other, which is very important. It would have to be the right everything, the right format, the right timing, it would have to be honored in a certain way. And if it ever came around, we would all jump in and do it.” Whether that potential revival would manifest itself as a movie or Netflix series, Sherman-Palladino admitted she didn’t know, “because it’s not real right now.”
Sherman-Palladino also declined to reveal the four words she planned to end the series with, saying, “For a while I thought, ‘I’ll just hold on to it in case’ — now I’m just being an a--hole. I’m holding on to it still because in my mind… who knows? But on my deathbed I’ll be like ‘rosebud.'”
Graham hasn’t pressed to find out those four little words either. “I don’t wanna know unless I’m saying them or I’m listening to someone say them on the show the way it was intended, otherwise I’d feel sad to know what I wasn’t a part of,” she said.
It didn’t take long before talk on the panel turned to Team Dean (Padalecki) versus Team Jess (Ventimiglia) versus Team Logan (Czuchry).
“I was Team Dean,” Ventimiglia quipped. Padalecki countered, “I was Team Jess — he was sexy and cool… If Milo wasn’t here today, I’d totally be Team Logan.”
Czuchry observed that he felt “the right boyfriend came at the right time… they each brought something out in Rory that she needed at the time… I was also kinda Team Jess.”
Bledel admitted it was always “unfair” when people asked her to choose between Rory’s three main love interests. “They were all such amazing actors to work with.”
Patterson solved the issue once and for all by interjecting, “None of you are good enough for Rory.”
As for Luke and Lorelai, Graham was vehement about where the couple ended up: “I think they’re together, a hundred percent.” The actress admitted she never felt closure about the couple’s relationship because they didn’t know whether the end of the series was actually the end. “It didn’t end in a satisfying way… It didn’t resolve satisfactorily.”
Sherman-Palladino said that they purposefully took their time with bringing Luke and Lorelai together because “it couldn’t happen until we knew what was going to happen after. TV rushes into things without thinking ‘what are you losing?’ We were very stingy with events because there’s so much to mine in characters, and when you jump to that next moment, you’re going to lose three or four moments… When these two finally got together, we knew there’d still be conflict, it would still be funny… it was a very calculated move so we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Graham also remembered disliking the major rift that formed between Lorelai and Rory when Rory dropped out of Yale. “I remember not liking it, I remember really struggling with it and feeling bad,” she noted, insisting it wasn’t a problem with the storytelling or writing, just that “it was personally difficult, as it should’ve been, as the actor and as the character.”
“Rory never really acted out, and at some point had to act out,” Sherman-Palladino said. “She had to push away to grow and become her own person… I felt like it was really important for the characters to have this moment of ‘what are our lives if we’re not close, because I’ve counted on that.'”
Another storytelling challenge came from the debate about when Rory was going to have sex. “Every character that was under 18 on TV at the time was like ‘f--k it’ [and having sex],” Sherman-Palladino said. “We were trying to play the truth of who she was, I didn’t want her to get drunk at a party and be like ‘woo, what happened!’ We got to a point where the studio and network were like ‘she’s gotta have sex, is she a nun?’ … I wanted it to be Dean and I wanted it to be at a time when they weren’t together. He was that great first boyfriend that you struggle with that as your life goes on, and you’re like, ‘the first one was so nice… maybe I shouldn’t have left that guy.’ That was a big thing only because people were like ‘what’s with her not sleeping with boys?'”
Looking back to the start of the series, Graham admitted to feeling proprietary over Lorelai from the moment she read the pilot script, “I thought, ‘This is mine, I can’t stand the idea of anyone else doing this.'” She was technically unavailable because she was on an NBC comedy called “M.Y.O.B.” — which luckily lasted four episodes, allowing her to take the role after Sherman-Palladino saw seemingly every other actress on the planet. “They kept handing me Lauren’s picture and I wouldn’t look at it because she was on this other show, I didn’t want to fall in love with someone I couldn’t have,” the creator admitted.
Bledel was modeling to pay the bills when she got the role of Rory Gilmore — she recalled having a cold because her last modeling job involved her having buckets of water thrown on her — and because she was sick, Sherman-Palladino thought Bledel hated her. “I was like, ‘she hates me… I love her!’ I want the one who hates me!”
The “Gilmore Girls” audition was Bledel’s fourth or fifth ever. “I had the wonderful experience actors sometimes have of reading it and knowing exactly who a character is,” she said. For Sherman-Palladino, Bledel was a no-brainer: “Alexis was so different, a breath of fresh air… Rory had to be that, she had to be something you’d never seen before.”
Part of that was due to the fact that Bledel had never acted on camera before, which meant that Graham was often shepherding her on set. Bledel and Graham reminisced about their first day of filming: “Because it was my first scene, I think we did many, many takes, because I didn’t know how to clear the camera — I’d walk behind Lauren because I didn’t know, she’d have to grab me to make sure I was on-camera,” Bledel admitted. “I was never on my mark the first week of shooting, she was always scooting me over.”
Graham agreed that part of the reason everyone thought the two of them had chemistry was because “I was literally mauling her all the time — ‘over here, over here, we made it!'”
Looking back at the show and its legacy, Sherman-Palladino said, “It’s all downhill from here, there’s no way I’m going to top this experience, this cast, these leading ladies, it’s just not gonna happen again. That’s okay, some people get lucky and some people don’t and god, I got so lucky.”