What brought you back to television?
Lauren Graham: The decision was kind of just a very instinctual one. I have been reading scripts for two and a half years or three years, whatever it was since GILMORE GIRLS ended and there just wasn’t anything I connected to and that’s including things that I was developing that maybe didn’t get to exactly the place I wanted them to. It’s like dating. You have a list of things that you want and then you meet somebody and fall in love and half the things were not on your list. And this is kind of that in the way that I didn’t plan to play a mom, I didn’t plan to do an ensemble, I sort of, was thinking about a comedy and maybe cable. And then I read this script and I met with Jason [Katims] and just the idea of being able to collaborate with a writer who has such a beautiful group of work but also is encouraging in the… take your idea and kind of run with it and, you know, improvise once in a while if that makes sense to you. It’s just a very different model from the show that I had come from. So it just seemed like a good idea.
Can you talk about the differences between being part of a big ensemble like PARENTHOOD as opposed to more or less carrying a show like you did with GILMORE GIRLS?
Aside from being a more sane life for sure, I find that I have to really make sure I know where I am in the story because in PARENTHOOD I’m not in every scene and I have to sort of think about it as an actor in terms of the arc of each episode in a more deep way instead of trusting that since I’m in most of the scenes I can kind of gauge where I am. I’ve actually found this work really gratifying because it is more specific, you’re working with a smaller amount of material and therefore everything is really important. On GILMORE GIRLS sometimes I’d be in a scene that was just there kind of for fun, where as here each scene really is an important part of where my character is. It’s been really interesting. I don’t see dawn as much as I did on the other show which has been really enjoyable. And I think what I’ve discovered and what I’ve really enjoyed about — we’re in maybe episodes like 5 and 6 right now — is just finding the ways in which this character just continues to sort of feel like a failure. As opposed to Lorelai Gilmore who had a very sunny outlook on things, it’s been really interesting for me to play someone who is kind of shouldering a lot of baggage in terms of being disappointed about where she is in life and just the feeling of living in your parent’s house at 38 and how that informs everything and doesn’t make you feel too great. Looking at life through the eyes of disappointment is kind of a thing I think about a lot with Sarah.
How would you compare Sarah [on PARENTHOOD] to Lorelai [from GILMORE GIRLS]?
They don’t remind me of each other at all. PARENTHOOD is less about verbal kind of dexterity and long speeches and it’s more small moments and real behavior people reacting to each in a moment. There’s a lot more silence. Sarah is really struggling in her life and not in a great place and hasn’t reached her potential in a lot of ways. Whereas the character I played in the past [Lorelai] is sort of always winning in a way, while this is someone who has much further to go to reach any of her dreams and that was all appealing to me.
On a personal level, which character —Sarah or Lorelai — do you relate to more?
Well I can only say Sarah because that’s what’s on my plate right now. But I would say, I mean, you know, this feels in a strange way like kind of a natural next step in terms of, you know, the world of GILMORE GIRLS was really idyllic in a way and such a great place to live as an actor and a person for awhile.
But this feels more grown up in a lot of a ways and so the possibilities sort of — the range of what I get to do on this show is — it’s more 10 o’clock than 8 o’clock. And that’s a great kind of next chapter to have in terms of just feeling challenged and moving forward.
Do real moms come up to you and ask you for advice?
Yes, moms do ask me for advice and I say I don’t know how to help you! But I did say to Jason [Katims] when we started this that I’ve been in a place where people are like, “Oh my mom is just like you and they mean that as a compliment.” And that wasn’t so much my interest going forward. I was like, I don’t necessarily want anyone to want to be me as a mom on this show. Like that’s what I like about Sarah is that she’s really kind of doing things in a more haphazard way and isn’t always noble and doesn’t always make the right choice. And so that felt different enough to me to, you know, that it wasn’t going to be it’s just like Lorelai.
PARENTHOOD airs on Tuesdays at 10PM on NBC (CityTV in Canada)