‘Gilmore Girls’: Scott Patterson on Playing Luke Again, Chemistry With Lauren Graham and Those Final Words
Warning! Spoilers for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life ahead!
After the big cathartic holiday weekend, fans of Gilmore Girls have come to terms with what happened during the six hour miniseries A Year in the Life. At the end of the new series, which was as much as anything else creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s gift to the show’s loyal fans, Luke (Scott Patterson) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) finally got married, and Rory dropped a news bomb in the form of the famous “Final Four Words.”
On Monday, we talked to Patterson, who is also promoting his band SmithRadio‘s new single, “HaHa Song,” about the series, reconnecting with Luke, and whether he liked the new Luke-Lorelai dynamic better than the old “Will they/won’t they?” version. He also gave his opinion on what those final four words mean as far as seeing more Gilmore is concerned.
Since the mini-series has come out have you gotten a lot of phone calls, texts, anything like that or you kind of went into hiding for Thanksgiving weekend and decided not to be exposed to all of that?
No, it’s been a flurry of activity for sure. I have been laser focused on promoting my single that just got released on iTunes and Amazon and all the major download platforms. I’ve been very busy with that. I haven’t been hiding from the Gilmore crowd, I’ve just been sort of stepping up on the music side and promoting the song.
How does it feel to be back in the Gilmore universe, just being back with the fans on social media and elsewhere, after nine years?
It feels bigger and better than before. I think it’s a more inclusive PR campaign overall and marketing push globally. I think more people on the cast feel appreciated and it’s just a lot more fun. I think Netflix is throwing a lot of assets behind this. They’re awfully smart over there, and they have a very aggressive global approach and it’s fun to be a part of that. It’s sort of riding the crest of that wave they have created and we helped create with them.
It did seem that the popularity of the show exploded over the last nine years, via the ABC Family reruns and then Netflix putting the original series. Did you sense that the show never really went away because of all of that?
No, I think it actually grew. I think it expanded to larger and larger audiences, and then when Netflix made it available on their platform, it went to 160 some odd countries, then it became, it went into hyperdrive. It was a brilliant move because they knew that we were nearing the end of shooting this mini series, and it was going to enhance the roll out. Quite a smart strategy.
The show has a very addictive effect on people. It’s not just a TV show to them, it’s not just beloved characters. It’s more of a religion. We’re members of their families. We’re not just people that they watch on television. It runs very deep with the fan base. That has only increased as the years go on and as their desire for some kind of revival or film becomes more and more of a reality which it did. It’s really the fans made this happen. They simply demanded it. They didn’t go away and in fact they grew in numbers and the network and the studio made a very complicated deal to bring this to the table and that’s what caused it. It was the fandom. It was the fan demand. Quite impressive.
You mentioned to Entertainment Tonight that when you first came on the set, you were telling Amy Sherman-Palladino that you thought you’d pick up Luke instantly, but, you hadn’t really reconnected with him at first. Why do you think you hadn’t reconnected with the character at that point?
I don’t think I was 100% disconnected from him. I just wasn’t there 100%. I might have been 75, 80% there. There was something a little off for me and I’m very good at trusting my gut and trusting my instincts in life and on the set, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. I just felt … Maybe at the time in rehearsal that’s exactly I should have been feeling and should have gone with it, but I felt something was a little off. I wasn’t really feeling like him, nine hears hence. Things had changed. I had a son. I’ve changed a great deal in nine years. I just needed to take a little time. I just wanted to be sure that what I was feeling was either the correct thing or whether something might come flooding back. I think in technical terms I had to do some sensory work on my own a little bit, and it worked.
Putting on the hat and the flannel didn’t quite instantly get you back in?
I thought it did, but once I got on set I started feeling a little, I don’t know, it wasn’t fear, it wasn’t trepidation, it was just something is not clicking here for me. I don’t know how else to describe, just a little mechanical adjustment maybe. Maybe I was lunging, stepping, my head was moving forward as I was swinging the bat, I needed to keep my head still. Do you know what I mean, that kind of thing.
Yeah, you needed a batting coach to help you.
I gave myself a prescription and I made the adjustment on the field, so it all worked out.
With everybody saying how it just felt like they never left, was there anything about the scripts that said to you “this is Gilmore Girls, but evolved, because now we’re in 2016, because everybody’s lives are different?”
Yeah, it did have that feeling. It felt much bigger. It felt like we were doing four films in the space of three and a half months, because we were looking at 600 pages of material. It was a daunting amount of work, yet it was the same old rhythm, the same great Gilmore cadence that Amy and Dan [Palladino] are so good at. We felt very confident. The scripts were obviously longer. The scenes were longer, they were deeper, we were going places we hadn’t gone before.
The stakes were raised, obviously with the very tragic passing of Ed Herrmann and that affected the scripts greatly and the storytelling in a very moving appropriate manner and we knew that we were in for something the same yet different, deeper; and that became clear the night of the screening, the premier out in Westwood a few weeks back when they screened “Winter.” It looked like a really beautiful film that was put together. It did not look like a television show. It looked like a film and I think the fans will attest to that. There was more excitement in that conference room, that initial table read over at Warner Brothers in the executive building. It was a big deal. All the big Warner Brothers executives were there. All the big Netflix people were there. It was a really, really, big, big deal and it felt that way and the excitement was such, and a very nice experience all the way around.
The dynamic between Luke and Lorelai was more settled and comfortable now because they’ve been together for so long, not the fire they had early on. Did you miss the old dynamic or did you like the fact that now they’re settled in as a couple, and that’s kind of how they’re interacting with each other?
I liked this round better. When you’re with somebody that long and it becomes routine and you’re familiar with that person, you can sit around and beat each other up all day yet get through it and still be best friends and madly in love with each other, and that’s the beauty of the relationship. We can have our differences, we can have our fights now, and we know we’re going to survive them, so there’s a real comfort in that.
Maybe the gloves come off a little bit verbally, but that really is a testament to the trust that we have in one another, any couple in a similar situation have in one another, because they know they can sort of be a little more honest and still survive it whereas when you’re in that sort of tenuous part of a relationship in the beginning or something that’s not fully formed you’re going to be very careful, you’re going to tiptoe around. I prefer the comfort of living with someone, being married to someone, and just keeping it real. I think that was the appeal for me. But there is no lack of fire there.
I’ll tell you a funny story. They had Lauren and I sitting next to each other at that first massive table read at Warner Brothers, and as we sat down we were saying hellos to everybody we both in perfect sync put on reading glasses and looked at each other and laughed. We were in sync right from the beginning.
I was going to ask whether the chemistry between you and Lauren was the same and was apparent from the beginning of the revival or if it took some time to work back into it.
No, that is just there. You can put the two biggest names in the business together on screen and for some reason it doesn’t work. You just never know. I have been lucky enough to have been paired with many actresses over my career I just happen to have a really good chemistry with, and Lauren is no exception. It’s just there. You can tell when it isn’t, and there’s not much you can do about it, but when it’s there it’s really apparent and it’s apparent to all, and that is the x-factor in my business. Will these two people have chemistry, will these two male leads have chemistry with one another, whatever it is? Will Scott and Lauren have sexual chemistry? What kind of chemistry will they have; how powerful will it be? That’s what really carries the day.
What do you need to do, by the way, to access that speech that you made in the “Fall” episode when Lorelai comes back from her aborted hike and you’re trying to let her know that she shouldn’t end it? Was it the whole history of the characters?
Here’s the beauty of being a little, let’s say, of a certain vintage as a person. I’ve made that speech a few times in my life for real. [Laughs] That’s the beauty of the writing is that it really comes from experience. It comes from a real place. I think Amy and I don’t want to get too personal, but I think writers, the best writers write from their own experience as well as combining it seamlessly with their imagination and that’s the trick where you can’t see the seams, you can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t. It certainly felt real when I read it, and the cadence was real and the rhythms were there. It’s all poetry is math then what she’s doing is mathematics. It’s the mathematics of language. It makes a logical sense. It’s somewhat iambic and that’s really the beauty in it. It’s very easy to memorize because it makes sort of emotional, logical sense. Instinctually, the words stay with you, the speeches stay with you because by golly, I have made these speeches before, and maybe I made this speech last week,! [I made it while] fighting for my life in a relationship or ten years ago or twenty years ago. I’ve made that speech before, and there it was manifested before my eyes beautifully. I don’t know if I was ever that eloquent. I’ve been there done that. It was not difficult to hook into that life experience.
How surreal is it to get on a set with people like Alexis Bledel and Milo Ventimiglia and some of the folks that were pretty young when you started working with them, and now here they are, Milo is mid-30s, all pumped up, a much bigger guy than he used to be, Alexis is a mom?
I didn’t know if it was Milo coming in or Milo Schwarzenegger. He was really pumped up. That’s the beauty of having Milo around is you know you’re going to get a lot of work done because nobody is going to pay attention to you, which is very freeing. No, it was all great. Everybody was happy to see one another and I didn’t have but a few quick little things with Milo, and I didn’t really have much with Alexis. Yeah, all great. People really haven’t changed that much. People just become more of what they already are and that was true in both their cases. It’s like a family reunion, and everybody was very happy to see one another.
We didn’t get closure when the series was canceled. I was on a film set in Toronto when I got word that it was canceled. That’s not a way to end something. This was a chance to come back and kind of savor every moment with the feeling that this could be it, let’s enjoy this. It’s three and a half months, it’s a short window. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a short window. There’s not that nine month grind to wear you down so much. It was very pleasant.
What did you think of those final four words that Amy had promised for ten years to put at the end of the series? Obviously it has a lot different meaning in 2016 than it would have in 2007. When you finally saw it what was your thought?
My immediate thought was, well we’re going to do this again. That’s what I thought.
Meaning you think this could be, that Netflix could say, “we want another mini series,” somewhere down the line?
Why wouldn’t they?
What’s interesting is if Rory had been pregnant at 23, it’s a lot different than 32, the character being pregnant. It kind of implies something a lot different than it would have originally. Do you think Amy would be willing to do more if Netflix asked her to do it?
I don’t know what’s in her mind. I think she has another show that she’s exec-producing. I don’t really know what it is, but I’ve read that she’s heavily involved in something else. Those two are so prolific that I’m sure they could turn something … Six hundred pages is not easy. You have to have the time and you have to have the interest. I don’t know about … I don’t know if they could do it every year. It’s a lot of heavy lifting.
Lorelai and Luke as grandparents wouldn’t be such a bad thing. That would be interesting. Interesting grandparents.
[Laughs] It is a multi-generational, a thematically multi-generational show, so why not add another layer? Sure, it makes sense.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Now streaming, Netflix.