Lauren Graham spent seven years as television's superquirky Lorelai Gilmore, but the 41-year-old actor doesn't always portray some jittery chick mainlining caffeine. In her Broadway debut, playing Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, she has to be downright immobile, since the showgirl waits nearly a decade and a half for her man. Having traded barbs with both Billy Bob Thornton (in the eminently memorable Bad Santa) and Steve Carell (in the mostly forgotten Evan Almighty), Graham now prides herself on being an excellent talk-show guest, and still throws around Gilmore-style non sequiturs; did she mention her stance on navels?
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Time Out New York: So, less than two years since Gilmore Girls ended, you're already stripping onstage?
Lauren Graham: [Laughs] People keep asking for the Gilmore Girls movie. This is what it would have been. Lorelai falls on hard times, separated from Rory.
How did you feel about Adelaide's sequined mesh costume?
I felt really worried, but there's no diet like panic, so I did lose weight just thinking about it. But now I wear pasties like a pro.
You aren't really known as a singer and yet you're doing a musical.
I sang as a kid, and of course you're familiar with my work in the Columbia Metrotones?
No, um, I don't have their back catalog yet.
Yeah, at Columbia I was in an a cappella group.
A cappella exists only to get college kids laid, right?
I'm trying to think if it ever helped me—I think people did get lucky. But it was all about the music. We really cared.
Adelaide waits 14 years for Nathan Detroit to marry her. Who would you wait for?
You know, I'm still waiting for my boyfriend David Letterman. I've waited about that long for him. I mean, some would say he's moved on, with the whole child thing.
You do a lot of talk shows—are you a really good anecdote-teller?
I'm just a fan of the talk show. I stayed home the summer David Letterman was first on; too young to drive and too old to go to camp. It was like the first time reading Catcher in the Rye, when I was like, This is about me. That's how I felt watching David Letterman. It's everything I'm thinking, but he's thinking it!
Some kids turn to drugs or a life of crime. You turned to late-night talk shows.
I did. I turned to comedy. I try to be a good guest. I've mined my childhood and show business for stories, and I've got a couple old theater tales no one cared about till now. But [hosts] will say, "Hey, I read on the Internet that you said, 'Belly buttons are cool.'?" I'm like, That old chestnut? You kidding me?
So now you don't think belly buttons are cool?
[Laughs] The quote, I said as a joke once. I was so punchy, so I was like, "Bellybuttonsarecool." And then it haunted me.
Is the anti–belly-button lobby still after you?
They're like, What did you think was so cool? I didn't really! I don't care!
You ever been in a feud with anyone? You could start one right here—it would be fodder for your talk-show appearances till the end of time.
I used to say I went out with Justin Timberlake.
Until you got a cease-and-desist letter from his people?
No. Oh, I wish. Instead, I'm going to start a feud with Alexis Bledel, my former TV daughter. Ha, that would really upset people who like Gilmore Girls.
You're not all maternal toward her?
Ha, no. She does not need me to be a real or fake mother toward her. She's just a really cool girl. And she really likes doughnuts, so we discuss deep-fat frying.
Sure, 'cause two Hollywood stars do sooo much deep-fat frying.
But it's good for you. Once in a while. I've been on the diet of Broadway panic for long enough.
Guys and Dolls opens at the Nederlander Theatre Sun 1.
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