At the historic Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, Saturday night, the Stars Hollow stars aligned once more.
Some 1,200 screaming Gilmore Girls fans finally got some of the closure they’ve been looking for for eight years when 17 members of the cast and crew piled onto the stage to share touching memories, celebrate heroes, and of course, dispel a few myths.
The anticipation for this event has been building among fans for months now, after the show made a triumphant splash on Netflix Instant last fall and news of the reunion dropped in November. “I can’t wait to sit with these unbelievable broads and relive a time where sleep did not exist, where stress and coffee were mama’s little helpers, and where we all dove into the deep end together to make something weird and very very cool,” show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino said at the time.
And the capacity crowd got all that and more: After hours baking in the hot sun (there were more than a few victims of heat exhaustion at the front of the line) and surviving on the free Pop-Tarts some saintly volunteer passed around, we filed into the theater shortly after 7pm, buzzing and whirring slightly while we waited for the cast to find their seats.
Fittingly, the show started with a 1,200-person singalong of the show’s iconic opening credits before festival cofounders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson welcomed moderator Jessica Shaw from Entertainment Weekly and the three Gilmore girls—Rory (Alexis Bledel), Lorelei (Lauren Graham), and Emily (Kelly Bishop) to the stage. They quickly settled into their perfectly mismatched chairs—each seemingly selected to reflect their character’s personality. After 45 minutes of chatter, they paused for an in memoriam tribute to Edward Herrmann—who played Richard Gilmore, the patriarch of the clan, and who passed away suddenly late last year—and then invited the rest of the cast to join them on stage for another round of questions.
For the true fans, there weren’t too many surprises. We knew Graham practically “manhandled” Bledel, who struggled with blocking in the early days of shooting, this being her breakout role after only her “fifth or sixth audition.” We knew Liza Weil originally auditioned for the role of Rory before the creators decided they liked her so much to write the role of Paris Geller specifically for the actress. We knew the show’s scripts were 20 and 30 pages longer than the standard hourlong show’s, thanks to the rapid-fire pace of the cast’s delivery.
But we came out in droves to just listen to them tell stories with and about one another, hoping and praying for some sly mention of a movie or reboot down the line. Here’s what we learned.
1) Amy Sherman-Palladino has a sick sense of humor
No cast panel is complete without audition stories, and this one was no exception. Bledel, at the time a student at New York University, recounted the horrible (last) modeling gig that got her sick before her audition (look for a tweet of one of those pictures over on Bledel’s Twitter page soon); Bishop confessed how she thinks she reads for auditions poorly (“You’re wrong,” Sherman-Palladino quickly chided). But it was Graham who found out she’d gotten the role after ignoring a phone call while driving another contender back to her hotel afterward.
“If you had answered the phone and gotten the job in front of her… ‘I got it?! Oh my god when do I leave?!’ … That would have been so awesome,” Sherman-Palladino deadpanned.
Well, awesome for somebody, anyway.
2) There were two Canadian Deans
Before there was Jared Padalecki, “There was another Dean,” Graham announced in a spooky, foreboding voice. “There was a Canadian Dean.”
“There were two Canadian Deans,” Sherman-Palladino corrected. “You gotta go American.”
Damn right you do. Considering Padalecki has gone on to become a leading name in his own right, holding down a massive series in Supernatural, we think she made the right call.
3) Team Jess, Team Dean, and Team Logan are all wrong
The men in Rory’s life are all buds in real life, with Milo Ventimiglia (Jess) saying he’s Team Dean, Padalecki saying he’s Team Jess, and everyone agreeing that “Logan was a dick.”
But the real last word goes to Scott Patterson (Luke), who summed up what so many viewers thought by the end of season 7: “None of you are good enough for Rory.” Final answer.
Still, the showrunners worked devilishly hard to get them all involved, with Ventimiglia and Matt Czuchry both coming in for reads despite their ultimate characters not existing yet. “I think I actually auditioned twice for two different roles over the course of a couple years,” Czuchry said. “We wrote a special scene, like a Logan scene… that had nothing to do with anything,” Sherman-Palladino said. “I wrote something for [Logan] for nothing,” she teased Czuchry. “I never do that.”
Worth it? You be the judge.
4) Michel isn’t sure how he got to Stars Hollow in the first place
As the cast passed mics around and shared where they thought their characters might have ended up down the line, one answer in particular got a huge laugh from the audience. Rory would be off on her “highly ambitious career path,” naturally; Scott Patterson is convinced Luke is off “40 miles outside of town” somewhere, with a new bait and tackle shop on a lake; Jess is “out being Jess” (a crowd member’s suggestion of “successful author” got a much bigger cheer); Lane is “[hopefully] still playing music”; and “Logan would not be working.” Check, check, and check.
“It’s a tough one for Michel,” Yanic Truesdale said. “Because I never really understood how he ended up in that town.” But he’s “patronizing people somewhere, for sure,” no matter where he is now.
5) Edward Herrmann left a huge impression on the cast
The interstitial in memoriam reel of Richard’s best scenes got a standing ovation from the audience, but we weren’t the only ones touched. Lauren Graham had to dry her eyes a few times throughout the evening as they shared memories of the role “Mr. President” played in their lives.
6) There’s plenty online to keep fans going…
In the course of the evening, we heard about a pre-Gilmore Girls Miss Patty book available online (still trying to confirm that one ourselves), a Gilmore Girls drinking game, and the Gilmore Girls reading challenge, in which you try to read all 339 books Rory was seen reading onscreen throughout her time at Chilton and Yale. (Full disclosure: The fan who brought up the latter confessed that it’s both “insane” and “expensive,” so tackle that one at your own risk.)
7) …but a movie isn’t on the books
Scott Patterson teased us all in a recent interview with the Gilmore Guys podcast by suggesting that “there are talks going on at the moment” for a movie or new season of the show. (And after that finale, you can’t blame us for wanting a little something more.)
But it’s not in the cards. At least not yet.
Amy Sherman-Palladino says she might share the final four words she intended for the show “on my deathbed”—Daniel Palladino chimed in that one was definitely “limburger”—but she quelled the rumors of a movie or Netflix reboot. “I’m sorry—there’s nothing in the works,” she said. But the good news? “Nobody here hates each other,” so someday down the road, it’s still a possibility. “It would have to be the right format, the right timing, the right way, [deeper voice] the right budget…” but would you really have it any other way?
Photo by Monica Riese