Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham in Gilmore Girls
The weather is slowly getting chillier, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back on the menu at Starbucks, and Strictly Come Dancing is on our screens once again. It can only mean one thing – autumn is in full swing.
And what better way is there to mark the occasion than by watching (or, indeed, rewatching!) Gilmore Girls?
Despite first airing a staggering 23 years ago, the much-loved US series has become a seasonal favourite around this time of year, thanks to its initial October release date, storylines revolving around events such as Halloween and starting school and its all-round autumnal vibes.
So, whether you’re settling in to watch Gilmore Girls for the first – or 51st! – time, then here are some little known facts about the series that will get you even more in the mood…
1. The show’s fictional setting of Stars Hollow was inspired by creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s unexpected visit to the town of Washington in Connecticut
“We’re driving by, and people are slowing down saying, ‘Excuse me, where is the pumpkin patch?’ And everything is green and people are out, and they’re talking,” she recalled in 2001.
“And we went to a diner and everyone knew each other and someone got up and they walked behind the [counter] and they got their own coffee because the waitress was busy, and I’m, like, ‘Is this out of central casting? Who staged this thing for me?’”
Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham together on the set of Gilmore Girls
After taking “a lot of notes”, Sherman-Palladino had already worked out much of the show by the following morning.
She added: “it was beautiful, it was magical, and it was a feeling of warmth and small-town camaraderie… There was a longing for that in my own life, and I thought, ‘that’s something that I would really love to put out there’.”
Amy Sherman-Palladino in 2006
2. While almost the entire series was filmed at the Warner Bros. lot in California, the pilot episode was shot in a suburb just outside of Toronto – where Miss Patty’s on-screen dancers experienced the chilliest shoot of their lives!
“I remember there’s a scene in Miss Patty’s where there’s a bunch of little ballerinas,” recalled Lauren Graham, who plays Lorelai Gilmore. “There were all of these little ballerinas, freezing, freezing cold.”
3. Alexis Bledel, who stars as Rory Gilmore in the show, was still a student at New York University when she decided to audition for the part
“I was a student at NYU, and they kept calling me back up to audition,” Alexis revealed during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
“I think I went, like, six times. Oddly, I wasn’t a very seasoned actor at all. I didn’t know the process. I grew a tad bit impatient. I had a little attitude and our boss really liked that a lot. She was like, ‘That’s our girl!’ I was like, ‘Are you guys going to bring me back again?’ and she was like, ‘I like that, that’s perfect.’”
Alexis Bledel in 2001
4. Alexis’ newness to the industry added to her chemistry with her on-screen mum Lauren Graham – as Lauren would often have to grab her co-star’s arm to make sure she hit her marks in the early days.
“People are like, ‘You have such great chemistry.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m mauling her. That’s why,’” Lauren joked on Today.
5. Alex Borstein (now best known as the voice of Lois Griffin on Family Guy) was originally supposed to play the role of Sookie, but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts.
She would instead go on to play three different characters over the course of the show – the harpist Drella, Emily’s stylist Miss Celine and the voice of Doris, Lorelai’s angry neighbour who only appears on her answering machine.
Alex Borstein in 2004
6. To replace Alex Borsten, Sherman-Palladino chose Melissa McCarthy – but despite the future Oscar nominee now being a huge Hollywood name, the writer says she had to “fight” to get Melissa to play the role.
“It wasn’t that people didn’t like her, but she was a different energy,” Sherman-Palladino said during a panel discussion in 2015. “She was a different kind of chick.
“The part was just written for a woman – there was no body type, there was nothing specific about it. I was just like, ‘I need someone who’s funny and can really act.’”
Melissa McCarthy and Lauren Graham in 2001
7. Liza Weil originally auditioned for the role of Rory
While she obviously didn’t get the part, Sherman-Palladino thought she was so “unbelievably brilliant – like a master comedienne” that she specifically wrote her the part of Rory’s foe-turned-friend, Paris Geller.
8. Scott Paterson was the only actor to audition for Luke Danes, winning over the casting directors immediately with his take on the diner owner.
“Amy said: ‘I don’t need to see anyone else. He’s 100 percent it,’” casting director Jill Anthony previously told Vanity Fair.
9. Scott actually channelled his father when it came to playing Luke
He revealed : “It was a chance to play my father as if he weren’t the super-educated, suave, sophisticated man that he was – who hadn’t left when I needed him the most, creating this giant void in my life.”
Lauren Graham actually did the same, modelling Lorelai with her “friendship” with her own dad in mind.
Scott Paterson pictured in 2002
10. In his very first audition ever, Chris Pine tried out to play Rory’s dad, who is also called Christopher.
While the Star Trek actor didn’t land the part, he later admitted that the experience “kind of snowballed a lot of stuff in my life”.
11. Another famous face to try out for the series was Ryan Gosling, who was brought in to read for a small part.
Shockingly, casting director Jami Rudofsky admitted in 2015 that his audition “fell flat”.
After watching him audition in the past, Rudofsky recalled: “[I’d] kept him in my mind, and I was thinking, ‘I can’t wait for them [Gilmore Girls executives] to meet him.’
“And I am talking him up. I’m like, ‘Amy, guys, he’s the best actor. I’m telling you; he is amazing.’ So, he came in, I think it was a football character. I don’t even remember... He auditioned, and it kind of fell flat. And Amy was like, ‘Really, Jami?’”
Ryan Gosling in 2002
12. The only time Lorelai’s birthday is celebrated is in season three, when Rory has a giant pizza made. This pizza was a lot less appetising in real life than it looked on screen, though.
It may have looked delicious, but the pizza was actually made of foam and then covered in real pizza sauce and toppings… yum.
370100 08: Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham star in Warner Bros. TV series "The Gilmore Girls." (Photo by Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA)
13. Sherman-Palladino’s childhood friend Helen Pai – who was also a producer on the show – is the real-life inspiration behind the character Lane Kim.
So much so that Lane’s band name Hep Alien is actually an anagram of Pai’s name.
14. Speaking of Lane, Keiko Agena was actually 27 when she began playing 16-year-old Lane on the show
Meanwhile, her on-screen bestie Alexis Bledel was only 18 when filming began.
Keiko Agena at a celebration for The Gilmore Girls' 100th episode
15. Gilmore Girls scenes wouldn’t be the same without a cup of coffee – but Lauren Graham sometimes opted for water in her mug instead
Apparently, Lauren felt she already drank a lot of caffeine off-set. Meanwhile, Alexis Bledel reportedly subbed in fizzy drinks instead of a warm beverage when she was shooting.
Coffee would become a big part of Gilmore Girls' on-screen identity
16. The John Lennon track Oh My Love, which plays as Dean tells Rory he loves her, cost a whopping $20,000 (£16.3k) to use in the sequence
The licence had to be approved by Yoko Ono personally, after she reviewed script pages and tapes from the show.
Sherman-Palladino said in 2002: “I’d rather spend $20,000 on a John Lennon song and give up a set. The song says something emotional, and I can always just stick them on a bench if I need to.”
17. He’s best known as the charismatic Don Draper in Mad Men – but you might have missed that Jon Hamm has also appeared in the Gilmore Girls universe
The future Emmy winner played Peyton Sanders on the show, a wealthy man that Lorelai goes on a few dates with in season three.
Weirdly, there was a Gilmore Girls-Mad Men reunion later down the line, when Alexis joined the drama’s fifth season as Beth Dawes.
18. While they were only onscreen for a few short moments, Liza Weil and Danny Strong went to Krav Maga boot camp for a month to get ‘ripped’ for the season six episode, The Perfect Dress.
“We both became – we were ripped,” Liza revealed. “I mean, it was quite an undertaking. But it was so fun and amazing to be able to get to do things like that.
“Those things stand out for me, because it was actually really immersive, and they were very serious about us knowing what we were doing for like a 10-second thing.”
The cast of Gilmore Girls pictured together on set
19. The attention to detail in Gilmore Girls is astounding, including a sweet moment in the season finale.
“For the last episode, we tried to match the final shot with the first scene from the pilot, so we went back and watched the pilot - which I haven’t seen for so long,” Lauren explained. “And the show now is really different from that pilot, which was more dramatic at the time than your typical WB show.”
10. Sadly, Sherman-Palladino has never seen the seventh and last season. After she and her husband Daniel Palladino couldn’t reach an agreement with the show’s new home channel, The CW, they withdrew from their roles as showrunners and writers once season six wrapped.
“I wanted different things for Rory,” she confessed. “I wanted her to follow a different sort of path [and to go] off on her own adventure, which I guess she sort of did. I haven’t [actually] seen the last season, but I heard about it from other people.”