I am sure that you probably recognize Milo Ventimiglia from his Emmy-nominated work on This Is Us, or you know Melissa McCarthy from her Oscar-nominated work on Bridesmaids. Yet, unless you still stream repeats of the series on a loop, you may have forgotten what show was responsible for essentially kickstarting their careers: Gilmore Girls.
The one-hour dramedy about single mother Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), her teenage daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel), and the eccentric townsfolk they endure on a daily basis in Stars Hollow, Connecticut, ran for seven seasons on The WB (later The CW). For having a simple premise and an almost entirely dialogue-driven structure, its clever narratives and wonderful cast ensured it would be popular enough to garner a four-part sequel on Netflix almost a decade after it ended in 2007.
By then, much of the cast, from one-episode wonders to regulars from the beginning and behind-the scenes personalities had already gone onto bigger things. For some, much bigger. The following are just 10 stars whose resumes prove that Gilmore Girls was a fruitful breeding ground for celebrities in the making.
Alexis Bledel (Rory Gilmore)
From playing a young, but spunky, prostitute in Sin City, joining a sisterhood based on a pair of very durable jeans, and a college professor turned resistance agent on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (for which she won a Primetime Emmy) Alexis Bledel is one of the most versatile and charming actresses of her generation. Of course, the former teen model’s most recognizable character remains her first ever credited role in Gilmore Girls, on which she made the social, romantic, and career-based aspirations of Rory Gilmore just as important to us as our own daily struggles.
Sean Gunn (Kirk Gleason)
Earlier, when I spoke of “eccentric individuals,” I was mostly referring to Kirk Gleason: a socially inept mama’s boy who held many jobs in Stars Hollow, and was played by Sean Gunn. Kirk is widely considered the actor’s best known character, which could be because his A-lister co-stars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe often get the bigger pieces of the spotlight despite his dual roles in the MCU (Kraglin and Rocket Raccoon’s body double). He is also frequently cast by his brother, a little filmmaker you might have heard of named James Gunn.
Jared Padalecki (Dean Forester)
I must say, I find it hilariously ironic how Jared Padalecki initially rose to heartthrob prominence on Gilmore Girls as Rory’s first love, Dean Forester, and would later be cast in his defining role on Supernatural as Sam Winchester, who snuffs out paranormal activity with his brother, Dean. Now, with the fantastic fellow CW series nearing its end after 15 seasons, the 37-year-old “scream king” will star in the title role of Walker which is - you guessed it - a reboot of the Walker, Texas Ranger crime series originally headlined by Chuck Norris.
Melissa McCarthy (Sookie St. James)
Despite being a series regular for the entire run of Gilmore Girls as Independence Inn chef (and later co-owner of the Dragonfly Inn) Sookie St. James, Melissa McCarthy did not become much of a TV star until her Emmy-winning turn on CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. It was the following year, after earning her first Academy Award nomination for her supporting role in 2011’s Bridesmaids, when she became a movie star and one of the most sought after comedic actresses in Hollywood, leading to her casting as Ursula in Disney’s upcoming live action remake of The Little Mermaid.
Milo Ventimiglia (Jess Mariano)
After several years of one small movie appearance or ill-fated TV role after another, Milo Ventimiglia’s career finally got a taste of stability after he joined the cast of Gilmore Girls in Season 2 as the troubled Jess Mariano, who was the nephew to Luke (Scott Patterson) and rival to Rory’s jealous boyfriend, Dean. After leaving the show in 2006, Ventimiglia was cast as a flying paramedic on NBC’s sci-fi cult favorite Heroes and, currently stars on one of the network’s biggest modern hits, This Is Us, in the three-time Emmy-nominated role of devoted late father Jack Pearson.
Adam Brody (Dave Rygalski)
After playing Lane Kim’s (Keiko Agena) love interest Dave Rygalski, a well-natured nerd, on Gilmore Girls for nine episodes, Adam Brody left the series to play Seth Cohen, a well-natured nerd, on the Fox teen drama The O.C. Fortunately, the 40-year-old actor has since avoided being typecast too often, taking roles such as a hard-partying fantasy football participant in The League, a grief-stricken, alcoholic descendant of a murderous family in Ready or Not, and The Flash in George Miller’s ill-fated Justice League project.
Krysten Ritter (Lucy)
Despite her short stint on Gilmore Girls, Krysten Ritter played a crucial part in one of the juiciest story arcs of Rory’s college years as Lucy, a fellow Yalie and friend who unwittingly dated a past unrequited admirer of Rory's named Marty (Wayne Wilcox). The actress would go on to have another short-lived yet memorable role as a tragic lover of Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad before landing the lead on the ABC sitcom Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, followed by nabbing the title role on the gritty Netflix crime drama based on Marvel hero Jessica Jones.
Danny Pudi (Raj)
In yet another instance of short stints on Gilmore Girls, Danny Pudi starred as Raj, a fellow staffworker at the Yale Daily News, who worked alongside Rory for a total of four episodes. The actor’s more memorable college-set role would come in the form of Abed Nadir, the self-aware walking encyclopedia of sci-fi knowledge, on Dan Harmon’s much-worshipped NBC comedy Community.
Rami Malek (Andy)
One of the most acclaimed actors in the world right now is Rami Malek. The Egyptian-American is the Emmy-winning star of Mr. Robot, Oscar-winning star of Bohemian Rhapsody, and scar-faced antagonist of the latest James Bond film No Time to Die. However, this remarkable actor debuted with a brief, single episode appearance in the fourth season of Gilmore Girls as Andy, a member of Lane’s bible study group, with three lines.
Amy Sherman-Palladino (Creator)
After getting her start as part of the writing staff of various comedies and dramas, none more successful than Roseanne, Amy Sherman-Palladino made a name for herself by creating her own show that incorporated both humor and true-life drama, which turned out to be Gilmore Girls. She would later find the biggest success of her career yet in creating The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, an Amazon Prime original series that follows a Jewish woman who pursues a career in comedy in the 1960s. The series is currently in its third season has earned Sherman-Palladino five Emmys thus far.
What do you think? Are these the greatest careers to come out of Gilmore Girls or, for my next article, do you think I should lead where you follow instead? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more information on this beloved series or updates on other television favorites here on CinemaBlend.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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