It’s afternoon on a sunny day in Beverly Hills and Lauren Graham is ready for a quick coffee refill.
“Can I please get an iced Americano, three shots of espresso with coconut milk if we’re ordering?” the 55-year-old politely asks as she gets ready in record-time for our photoshoot. “But I’m good with whatever is easiest; I just need more caffeine!”
This isn’t Luke’s Diner—the infamous meeting point on the wildly popular Gilmore Girls, where Graham played Lorelai Gilmore for seven seasons, followed by a Netflix revival—but it’s easy to see the lines between work and real life aren’t fully separated for the beloved actress. (She even reapplies her makeup artist’s aptly named Mae lipstick, named after Mae Whitman, who played her daughter on NBC’s Parenthood for six seasons, before we set up for the first shot.)
This November, she’ll release Have I Told You This Already?, a book of essays she describes as “filled with stories on ‘life, love and lessons learned as an actress in Hollywood.’” She also currently stars alongside Josh Duhamel in Season 2 of the Disney+ series, Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, which added TV director to her already-long resume.
“I have no marketable skills, so if I’m not doing all of this, I would be stuck,” she humbly shares as she quickly segues into the next thought (yes, that fast-talking, fast-thinking dialogue her characters are known for isn’t too far off her normal speed). “I guess I could maybe be teaching…that was always something I thought about in college. I almost got a teaching certificate as my backup plan.”
But, she says, after a “plan” focused on acting—one that’s been in place since high school—what she really loves to do in the present day is share what she’s learned. “Sharing is a lot of fun for me, it’s why I was interested in directing. It’s much more fun for me to give away some tools and watch them grow. I think that’s a natural evolution. I’ve gotten to a place where I’m looking at the next generation and I’m excited for them. I’m excited for it all.”
Congrats on the book. What’s the process like for you to sit down and write? Is it enjoyable or does it feel like you have homework?
It’s somewhere in between. I had a long flight not that ago where I didn’t bring my laptop because I didn’t have anything due. That was probably the first time in five years that happened. It felt good, but a little bit like I was forgetting to do something. This whole “other career” has been great, but it means sometimes I have a script due, then sometimes I have edits…it’s never just the writing process itself. So, yes, I would say it can get pretty homework-y.
I try to trick myself into finding it fun, and then sometimes you just ride the wave—that’s the best way I can describe it. Sometimes, the idea and the willingness to work on it come together at the same time, and that’s really enjoyable. For me, it’s the same feeling I get between action and cut. It’s a mix of good concentration and catching a wave.
They always say don’t force it.
It’s like anything—the more attention you give it, the more attention it gives you. And the longer you drop out, the harder it’s going to be. I literally find it’s like having a conversation: If you stop talking to your characters, they stop talking to you, too.
That’s a good way of putting it. I’ve watched you since you were in Caroline in the City and Seinfeld. I know you’ve had so many characters that a lot of people identify with. Is there one character that you identify with the most?
It’s Lorelai, for sure! Gilmore Girls was a really magical marriage of what I like as an actor. I’m drawn to things that are very verbal and have an almost theatrical quality. That’s how I got started as a kid…being drawn to language and Shakespeare. My first play in high school was a play that had that kind of ’30s snappy dialogue. I like to think that Lorelai’s outlook—in terms of being a very upbeat person—is similar to mine, so she’s the one. That’s always the one.
Are there any beauty moments that stand out to you from playing Lorelai?
The character’s style has definitely come back around. One of my best friend’s daughters has a corduroy jacket with fleece on the inside. I know that’s not a beauty moment, but in terms of things feeling retro, I think Lorelai’s early look is back in style!
There’s not one product I used that whole time, but I can tell time by what my hair looks like on the show. Some years, you can tell I needed to cut the time in the chair down and I would just ponytail it. Some years, the hair is way more elaborate. That was always…“the issue” is too strong of a term, but it’s safe to say we were always trying to figure out “the hair.”
Gilmore Girls started in 2000, which seems crazy. Do fans ever think you should be frozen in that time?
I like to think that Lorelai’s outlook—in terms of being a very upbeat person—is similar to mine.
I think I’m more worried about that than other people! Fans seem fine when I meet them, especially the kids. They’re always getting younger! I always like to say, “That was a long time ago.” It is such a strange phenomenon to have something recorded like that. It really is frozen in a moment. I just try to appreciate it.
You lived all over the world when you were young. Did it mold the way you think of things in terms of beauty?
My mother lived in Japan, largely. She was a missionary kid. I do always think of my mom and my grandmother as having “rituals”—they did things as a product of living in Japan, especially in terms of health and cleanliness. They had a house where you didn’t wear your shoes inside and you always went for good food and natural products.
I’m definitely drawn to anything Japanese; I try to have a routine. I think that’s been the hardest thing when you move around a lot and when you have different jobs, and different call times, and different climates. The key is to just find something that works and to stick with it.
Are there any beauty products you love or anything you do for wellness on the regular?
I really like to sweat—whether that’s a sauna or I have a sauna blanket that I use in New York. I like a good bath. I would say, skin-care wise, as I’ve gotten older, I always do something. It’s like a version of working out for me—anything is good, whether it’s a 20-minute walk or a four-mile run. I feel the same with my skin. I try to get a lot of facials and keep it all moving. I do masks, I do scrubs. I’m always trying to “wake up” my skin a bit. I do love P50 by Biologique Recherche, Weleda Skin Food, Camellia Rose Elixir by Julie Hewett, and I swear by Tatcha Silk Canvas when I’m working for under makeup.
Is there anything you do that people might be surprised to hear?
I do these ridiculous juice cleanses once in a while. They’re so miserable and so terrible; I don’t know why I do them. I go to this spa that is all juice. I do find that it gives me a little bit of a reset—even if it’s jarring.
I know you’re asked this probably all the time, but will Gilmore Girls come back again?
I’m making plans to see Amy [Sherman-Palladino], the creator of the show, in the next few weeks. It’s always a fun prospect to think about and talk about. It used to be more of just talk, but having done it now, we know it’s possible. I think I feel such a responsibility and so much love for the story that I would just want to be sure it was the right time.
What are you excited for as the year closes?
I don’t know where I’ll be this year, but I find those gatherings—whether they’re around the exact holiday of Thanksgiving or Christmas—I just find it is a really lovely time to be near friends and family. I love to cook, and I love to make mashed potatoes. And I love autumn—as a good Gilmore Girls member would.
Photography by John Russo at AKA Beverly Hills; Styling: Karen Raphael; Styling Assistant: Rachelle Duperoux; Makeup: Julie Hewett; Hair: Owen Gould