Exclusive Q&A: Gilmore Girls‘ Scott Patterson
It’s sort of fitting that death was staring Scott Paterson in the face when word of Gilmore Girls’ demise came down. In Toronto shooting the horror sequel Saw 4, “I was on the set [filming a scene] when the news broke,” he recounts. “I flipped open my cell phone and saw there were, like, 15 messages. I was like, “Ooooh, that’s either really good or really bad.” For fans of Patterson’s gruff-but-lovable Luke Danes, it was most certainly the latter. And Patterson himself? How does he feel about bidding Stars Hollow adieu after seven years? And what was his relationship with sparring partner Lauren Graham really like? Read on and find out…
What was your reaction to hearing that the show was ending?
Patterson: I kind of expected it, actually. And I think I was probably a little relieved, and disappointed at the same time. So many things went through me when I heard the news. I wasn’t terribly shocked. I know a lot of people were very optimistic, but I wasn’t one of them.
Patterson: To continue to do something like that there has to be a real passion for it. I didn’t sense there was any passion left, and, therefore, little reason to do it.
Are you speaking about yourself?
Patterson: Not me, just a general sense. The mood on the set was that it had run its course. Creatively, maybe, certain cast members were bankrupt and wanted to recharge their batteries in another venue. But there are a myriad of [factors] that go into these decisions; it’s not just one thing.
But you were prepared to return if it was renewed?
Patterson: Yeah. I signed a deal a couple of months ago. I was all set. I also have a holding deal, which means that [Warner Bros.] is looking to place me in another series as we speak. I was covered either way.
What are you going to miss?
Patterson: Just having a regular job. (Laughs) That’ll be an adjustment. We all struggle for all these years to get to this point and you never think in a million years that you’re going to look in the mirror one day and say, “I need to do something else.” When it becomes redundant and repetitive and old hat, it’s nice to change the music a little bit.
Was the vibe on the set different this year with [series creator] Amy [Sherman-Palladino] gone?
Patterson: Yeah, there was a perceptible change. Lauren was a producer this year, and there was a little more leeway in how things were shaped. The actors had more input than in the previous six years. And it was less work — I’m not qualifying that either way, whether it was good or bad. That’s just the way it was.
Was it bittersweet that Amy wasn’t there at the end?
Patterson: I think it was. I miss her like crazy. I always loved it when she directed an episode, or when she visited the set. She just energized the whole place. Just a lovely woman and a dear, dear friend. That’s the most important thing that I took away from this: my friendship with Amy. I will always do whatever I can to help her. Like I told her on the phone, “Not only would I hide a body for you, I would chop one up as well.”
Were you satisfied with the way the Luke and Lorelai story was wrapped up?
Patterson: No, I wasn’t, because there was still a lot of life left in it. But also, less is more, because it leaves in the audience’s imagination where it could go, and that’s really good writing. Why give them the full meal? And I know fans are a little upset because they feel unsatisfied. They feel like they hung in there for so long and didn’t get the full monty, so to speak. But I think the show will live in their imaginations longer as a result of this type of an ending.
A lot of fans Luke and Lorelai fans feel cheated because she spent so much of the season with Christopher.
Patterson: But what could they do? They were really faced with doing it the way they did it or pull a Deus ex machina, and that would have been really bad. I think that would’ve turned the fans off even more. Look, the fans were the show. We really felt the presence of the fans. What a terrific and loyal group of people they are. I think they have 152 episodes of Gilmore Girls to go over again and again and relive. It’s a lot of work that’s in there and I think at the end of the day, they’re going to take away from this that they’ve had a good run as well.
What did you think of the April storyline?
Patterson: I personally loved it. I think it gave Luke dimension. It humanized him more. It showed Luke in a much different light than what we were used to seeing. I know a lot of fans resisted April initially, but I thought it really helped the show. I think fans were a little perturbed because it delayed what they considered to be the inevitable, but this is what happens sometimes in life. I thought it was very cleverly done. And Vanessa is just a delight to work with, and a true professional.
Over the years there’s been speculation that you and Lauren had some rocky times. Would you say that’s accurate?
Patterson: No, I think it’s not accurate. I think it’s really inaccurate. And I think people thrive on rumor and innuendo; that sells papers, gets people to click on websites. Lauren has always been pretty much the rock of that whole production. She did the lion’s share of the work, and she did it with real aplomb. I wouldn’t have wanted that schedule. Not for 10 minutes would I have wanted that schedule. I mean, that schedule would’ve broken a workhorse, and she just plowed through it every day and it was pretty amazing to watch. We would hear those things and just laugh. We had a very comfortable working relationship. I enjoyed doing scenes with her because I knew she was going to hit the ball back over the net as good as she got. All of that stuff is just overblown.
Would you like to work with her again?
Patterson: Oh, absolutely. I would work with her again in a heartbeat. She happens to be a very, very, very good actress. I would jump at the chance to work with her again.
Do you feel like you were cheated out of saying a formal good-bye to the cast and crew since the decision came down after you were done filming?
Patterson: That part was unfortunate. But in Hollywood, when you’re trying to make the best deal you can, unfortunately, that type of thing is going to happen from time-to-time. I don’t think [Lauren and Alexis] had a choice. They chose a certain tactic and they stuck to their guns, which is admirable. I haven’t talked to either Lauren or Alexis about the situation, but I guess they just felt like the deal just wasn’t good enough for them. If they felt the deal was good enough, they would’ve signed. But I don’t really know the details.
I posed this question to Lauren and I’ll as you as well: Would you be up for doing a Gilmore Girls reunion movie penned by Amy?
Patterson: I don’t even see that happening in the hypothetical sense. (Laughs)
Patterson: The movies are beginning to stack up. I have about four or five lined up in a row. I’m also up for the lead in Repo! A Genetic Opera. Darren Lynn Bousman is directing it, and he’s just amazing. I have a big singing audition for him tomorrow in full wardrobe. I’m very excited about it. This is the upside of Gilmore ending, because now a whole new world is opening up and it’s really thrilling.