To a generation of TV fans Luke Danes will always be the perfect man. The Stars Hollow diner owner may have been a bit of a curmudgeon, but underneath the gruff exterior was a heart of gold that would do anything for both Lorelei and Rory on the Gilmore Girls. The TV Junkies caught up with Luke himself, actor Scott Patterson as 19 members of the Gilmore Girls cast and crew gathered for a reunion at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, TX.
Patterson was an unknown when Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino tapped him as her local diner owner, an opportunity he would firmly seize and turn into the role of a lifetime. For seven seasons, fans faithfully followed the slow-burn romance between Luke and Lauren Graham’s Lorelei Gilmore. Patterson was excited to be reunited with Graham, Sherman-Palladino and the rest of the Girls‘ cast at ATX, where he gave some insight into why Luke was so beloved, what he thinks his character would be up to now and lamented the fact that the show never got the recognition it deserved.
The TV Junkies: How exciting is it to be back together with everybody?
Scott Patterson: It’s pretty exciting. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it, but I’m glad I cleared my schedule to come down. It’s a really big deal and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of it.
TTVJ: Did you have any idea of how good the show would be when you started?
SP: I knew when I read the pilot script that it was real quality writing. I thought I was right for the role. The tuning fork went off inside me and I thought ‘OK I get him. I can do this.’ I never thought I’d get it. I thought the writing was so good that the network would go for big names because it was the kind of quality material that attracts big names. But Amy fought for each and every one of us. All of us were unknown and we were all sort of made by this show. We all have lives and careers because of this show. So kudos to her for fighting tooth and nail for every one of us. They didn’t want us, but she wanted the best, the right people for the roles, not necessarily the most famous people. So that’s what she got.
TTVJ: Did you guys have any idea of the huge response this reunion at ATX would bring?
SP: I didn’t know how big this event would be. Then as time went by it just grew and grew and grew. The fans are ecstatic and this is going to be a very big deal.
TTVJ: Some people have called Luke the perfect man, do you agree?
SP: I do!
TTVJ: Why do you think he was so loved?
SP: Because he’s selfless. He’s kind of a throwback to the days when men just didn’t complain and did things and it was never about them. It was about supporting the people they loved. They just did whatever it took to support the people they loved. He’s about loyalty. He’s about loving somebody unconditionally, even though he’s a tad prickly. But the upside to him is that he’s as solid as a rock. He’s not going to change and he’s going to be there for her through thick and thin, through all of the guys that she dated right in front of him. I think that every woman would love to have a guy like that, who is just going to be her rock. That’s what I think is missing in the world today, that type of a guy. He leads by example, ‘it’s not about me.’ That’s the definition of a man.
TTVJ: What was your favourite thing about working with Lauren in that relationship?
SP: Just how competent she is as an actress. We both took the work very seriously. In television you have a limited amount of time to block a scene, there’s a lot of work to be done on any given day. So what I enjoyed about her, because I share the same ability, is that she’s a quick study. She has the ability to see a scene and feel out the blocking, and that’s what I enjoyed, the process of figuring it out. The execution of it was just icing on the cake. It was really the rehearsal process that I enjoyed the most, especially on a show like that where they wanted the pace so quick. I like working with pros.
TTVJ: Luke had a really special relationship with Rory. What did he give her all the other men in her life couldn’t?
SP: He was there. He’s there. He shows up and he’s there. ‘I got your back.’ It’s the basic core concepts of family. It’s not rocket science. You’re either there or you’re not. You’re either going to make an excuse or you’re going to show up and do everything you can to be there. That’s one of the main reasons people respond to Luke. ‘That guy is going to show up!’ If you’ve got a high school graduation, he’s going to show up. If you’ve got a problem, he’s going to help you. He’s a nice guy. He doesn’t always come off that way, he’s got his issues as we all do, but he’s real. Isn’t it brilliant that Amy writes a character that is so cantankerous, yet so incredibly loving and supportive at the same time?
TTVJ: Do you have a favourite Luke moment?
SP: There’s so many, I can’t pick just one. I liked the moments with Lauren when we’re in love. There’s a scene on a bench where she’s crying, she breaks down. That was a very moving day of shooting because it’s like Luke at his best. He’s not saying anything and he’s just holding on. The dancing scene, with flowers in her hair, that was a nice evening. I love the Taylor Doose scenes. I loved anything I had to do with Liz Torres and Sally Struthers, basically all of them.
TTVJ: What happened to Luke’s baseball hats? Do you still have them?
SP: I have all of them. There are a couple. I have the original. I have the green one.
TTVJ: After playing such an iconic role and character how do you go about picking your next projects?
SP: I can’t really tell you. If it interests me, I’ll do it. I get a lot of stuff thrown at me and if it’s something I’ve done before and there’s no new spin on it I don’t want to do it. If it’s something I haven’t done, but it’s poorly written, I won’t do it. It just has to turn me on, ‘Oh, that would be fun. I would like exploring that territory,’ which is why I did the kidnapped movie [Lifetime’s Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story]. That was a bad guy but I wanted to explore that and see where that would go. It was an interesting couple of weeks.
TTVJ: Do you feel spoiled that you got to work with Amy for so long?
SP: Yeah. Where do you go from there? You would have to go from there to working with the best people in film, and that’s a big leap from small network, gem of a show that didn’t get any real recognition–which is absurd. Bizarre and absurd. Which just shows you like ‘really? Are you kidding me?’ Gilmore Girls never was nominated for anything. Anything! Anything! It’s just like ‘Really? Are you watching the work? Are people actually watching the work?’
TTVJ: Do you think that had something to do with people just writing it off because of the network and thinking it was a teen show?
SP: Probably. The themes were too conservative, they were too middle America or whatever it was, but it’s like ‘Guys, wake up that’s most of the world.’ What are you going to do?
TTVJ: You’ve already said that if a reunion movie or limited series does happen that you’d be on board.
SP: Oh I’m all in. Absolutely.
TTVJ: So where do you think Luke would be? What would he be up to?
SP: The two scenarios are as follows: He’s either still there, grinding it out, ever hopeful, a little older, maybe a little more cranky. Or he moved away, probably 40 miles away, which is a huge distance for him, that’s like 4,000 miles for him. Maybe he has a diner on a lake and he fishes every day. He’s communing with nature on a daily basis to soothe his aching heart.
TTVJ: Wait a minute, they [Luke and Lorelei] aren’t together?
SP: Oh no, they’re not together. They are going to get together in the movie. They have to have somewhere to go.
TTVJ: We don’t just want to see them happy?
SP: Not yet! You can’t dive in right there. You can’t pick up with them being married for 8 years and they’ve got 4 children–nope, you can’t do that.
TTVJ: Where can we check out your photography?
SP: Right now my rep, I now have a rep which shocks me, has finalized a portfolio and we’re just beginning to show it around to the top galleries in New York. More on that to come. That’s probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in a long time, definitely since Gilmore. I have a couple of TV pilots that I’ve co-written with my writing partner that are getting shopped around as well. There’s some excitement. There’s potentially a lot of news to share in the not too distant future.
Check out more of our coverage from ATX Festival here.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.