The actress and bestselling author turns 50 today, so we salute her with a fun, fast look at her life and career.
She may be best-known as the fast-talking Lorelei from Gilmore Girls, but Lauren Graham is an actress with an impressive and lengthy resume in film, TV, and theater, and is a writer as well. Fans tend to confuse her with her most famous character, or occasionally with Sarah Braverman, her character on Parenthood (which ran for almost as many seasons as Gilmore Girls), but there’s a real person under there who’s just as fascinating as the fictional ones she plays. The evidence is below, in these five fun facts.
SHE HAD A LOT OF ODD JOBS BEFORE MAKING IT AS AN ACTRESS . . . SOME VERY ODD INDEED
Followers of Graham’s career know that she was in several failed sitcoms before hitting it big with Gilmore Girls: the list includes Good Company, Townies (with Molly Ringwald), Conrad Bloom, and M.Y.O.B., which would have interfered with her actually taking the role on Gilmore Girls if it had gotten picked up.
But even before those, when she was a young, auditioning actress and even before that, she took a lot of different jobs to make her rent. While still in high school, she “mucked out” stalls in a barn, and drove a summer camp school bus. She worked as a hair salon receptionist, a waitress, a theater usher, a coat check girl, a book stacker at a law library, a salesperson at Barney’s in New York, taught SAT test prep, demonstrated how to play Uno at the Toy Fair, was a cocktail waitress at a comedy club where Dave Attell worked the door and future Parenthood co-star Ray Romano performed, and was a cinnamon roll and coffee counterperson, where she and her friend once found a purse full of cocaine left on the counter. (Its owner returned to reclaim it and left them a $50 tip.)
Best of all, she spent one very long day as a mascot at a World Cup soccer convention, deep inside a sweat-inducing giant dog costume.
SHE USED TO LIVE ON A HOUSEBOAT
Graham’s two biggest TV roles were single moms, and she got her inspiration for those single parents from her dad. Her parents split up, amicably, when she was quite young, so her father took Graham and moved to a houseboat in the Virgin Islands. Her nursery school bus was a motorboat. In her memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can, she includes a phone call she had with her dad while writing the book to ask him why they lived on a houseboat. He told her he had a girlfriend at the time who knew people at the marina there, and delivered the previously-unknown bit of information that the boat’s engine didn’t work. “We lived on a giant floating bathtub that went nowhere?” she asked him. He told her that the marina was very bohemian and they’d dropped out from society. “And we had fun,” he added, which she wholeheartedly agreed with.
She credits her dad for helping her get in touch with the parent-as-friend vibe and being her role model for Lorelai Gilmore. “We had a special kind of friendship: I came along to dinner and dates. He took me to concerts. We’d go on road trips. I didn’t have a strong idea of how to play a mom—my mom was in my life, but not on a daily basis. I came into it without an idea of how moms “should act” or how it “should be.” I came in thinking of my friendship with my dad–that was my model,” she told Rookie Magazine.
HER TV MOM TOLD HER TO DATE PETER KRAUSE YEARS BEFORE SHE ACTUALLY DID
Lauren Graham and Peter Krause met for the first time when they were both guest stars on Caroline and the City, but didn’t really get to know each other at the time. They’d run into each other periodically, and in 2002, were paired up to present at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. They made small talk backstage, and right as their names were being announced, he asked her if she wanted to hold hands. She did. They presented the award, and that was that—they didn’t see each other again for years.
But before that, Kelly Bishop told Graham that she should be dating him. Bishop played Lorelai’s mom Emily, but was much more maternal with Graham than her character was with her fictional daughter. Bishop wasn’t a fan of Graham’s boyfriends, and broke out with the prophetic statement that she should find someone more her equal, like “that wonderful actor on Six Feet Under.”
In 2010, Graham would indeed start dating that “wonderful actor,” and they’re still going strong, despite having played siblings, 100% convincingly, on Parenthood for six seasons. He had a cameo in the Gilmore Girls reboot, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, as a park ranger, which Graham says fit his character perfectly. When he wasn’t available for all the shooting days needed, they split the role into two, and her former Parenthood (fictional) boyfriend Jason Ritter stepped in to take the second one.
While she probably wouldn’t want her dating life to be considered a fun fact, there’s something about this duo that’s irresistible, especially when you find out that when they first met, long before they dated, he invited her over to play a board game.
SHE’S A WRITER, AND A MIGHTY SUCCESSFUL ONE
There are actors who write memoirs, and have co-writers to help them, or actors who write one memoir on their own and that’s all they’ve got. (And that’s okay!) But Graham published a novel called Someday, Someday, Maybe in 2013, which made it onto The New York Times bestseller list and was optioned by Ellen DeGeneres’ production company for a TV series. When she met with DeGeneres and her production partner, Graham asked who they wanted to have write it, and they said, “You,” having assumed all along that that was her plan as well. While the show didn’t get picked up by the CW, it was still good enough to get her a job writing a pilot the following year, and that eventually led to her being hired to adapt the book The Royal We into a movie with Mae Whitman, who played her daughter Amber on Parenthood. The movie is currently in development, and no doubt there’s more to come.
In 2016, she published an excellent, absorbing memoir called Talking As Fast As I Can (without a co-writer), subtitled “From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between).” In the book, she talks about another actress-turned-writer, the late Carrie Fisher, and says she kept Fisher’s first novel, Postcards From The Edge, on her desk the whole time she was writing, and would re-read sections of it whenever she got stuck. No doubt a future actress/writer will be putting Graham’s novel on her desk as she writes her first book.
THERE MAY BE MORE LAUREN GRAHAM ON TV SOON
Graham has two projects on the horizon. The first is a pilot for Fox called Linda From HR, which will star Graham as Linda Plugh, “an HR employee whose one bad decision throws her monotonous, unfulfilled existence into an exciting but dangerous tailspin of balancing her work life, her home life and a secret that could unravel everything.” One of her co-stars will be Zachary Knighton, who appeared in six episodes of Parenthood as Mr. Knight, one of Max’s teachers who had a brief affair with Julia.
And whispers have begun about a follow-up to Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which averaged almost five million viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic in the U.S. Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos told the UK Press Association that they’ve had preliminary talks with show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and executive producer Dan Palladino, who haven’t agreed to do it, but haven’t said no, either.
At the very end of her memoir, Graham talks about how 2016’s revival made it so that Gilmore Girls was finally over for good. She continued,
“I mean, it is over, right?
Yes it is.
But seriously, didn’t you sort of think that ending was really more of a cliffhanger?
Hmmmm . . .”