We have lost so many incredible talents in the last year and it seems that 2014 didn’t want to go out without taking one last talented individual with it. Today the world lost a massive talent and a wonderful man actor, Edward Herrmann. The 71-year-old, who most would recognize as Richard Gilmore from the hit series, Gilmore Girls and as the leader of the vampires in The Lost Boys, lost his battle with cancer earlier this morning. Many, including Gilmore Girls co-star, Kelly Bishop, did not even know Herrmann was sick until it was too late.
The news of his death devastated me as I am a huge fan of his and have been binge watching Gilmore Girls for weeks. I would also like to point out that I was a huge fan of the series when it aired on the CW for seven spectacular seasons. Furthermore, I truly admired Herrmann. He was an incredibly humble and kind man. In 2010, while running the fan magazine, The Conzine, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Edward Herrmann and in his honor I wanted to share that interview with our readers. Please take this time to reflect and admire an incredible man and a sensational talent.
Gilmore Girls broke many molds among the television industry, the dialogue was a lot more complex and the pop culture references flowed through the show almost as often as did the coffee the characters drank. The speed at which the actors were required to speak was nothing ever seen before, Gilmore Girls was something kind of special and the incredible cast only added to the uniqueness of the show. Of all the actors who have graced the “Gilmore Girls” set with their presence no one was more inspiring than, Edward Herrmann who played Richard Gilmore.
Richard Gilmore was the lovable yet stiff father of Lorelei Gilmore and while fans either loved or hated his character, Edward Herrmann took hold of their heartstrings and pulled tightly. Herrmann is no stranger to the world of television and film, as he has stared in more than one can possibly count, but is perhaps most remembered for his role as Max, head of the Vampires, in the 1987 film “The Lost Boys.” Herrmann’s career goes back further than 1987 and the opportunity to interview the man who played FDR in the 1982 musical, “Annie,” was incredible. Here is how the interview went down with this legendary actor:
BECCA ROSE: How are you?
EDWARD HERRMANN: I am fine dear how are you?
BR: I just want to thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to do this interview This is very exciting for us and our fans.
EH: It’s my pleasure.
BR: “Gilmore Girls” is one of those shows that fans are going to re-watch and love for years to come. What was your favorite part about being on the show?
EH: There are so many things that I liked about it. I loved the people I worked with. I loved Lauren and Alexis and Yanic and Kelly. It was quite a group. And I loved the enthusiasm of the writing. And the fun it was to make it all work. I just loved going to work, it was fun. And I loved working at Warner Brothers; it ‘s one of the most beautiful lots in Hollywood .And there is a lot of history there and I appreciate that.
BR: Have you had any fun fan encounters since the show began that you can share?
EH: Well it was new for me; I’ve been in the business for a long time and I’ve had a lot of success and then you have to struggle to get a job and then suddenly you are on top again. The idea that 12-year-olds at check out counters at supermarkets whose eyes would suddenly flash open as they realized that you were in the show that they absolutely loved ,that you were a star from television in the flesh right there in front of them .It was great fun. It had been a long time since I had fans that were young. And I have had some wonderful correspondence with people. I don’t usually get involved in a correspondence with a fan; I ‘ll certainly send a picture or a note if somebody asks me to. The show has had a tremendous impact in Europe. I have had some wonderful letters from Germany and Italy and Spain, all around the world. I even have fans in Liechtenstein, which is a tiny little principality. So I thought “oh my gosh! The power of the box ,the power of a little television set.” It’s amazing.
BR: Sometimes I think TV shows are more popular and create more fans than movies or bands.
EH: I think you are right , that is well observed. Television shows, if they go beyond one or two or three seasons, engender a kind of loyalty. People live through periods of their lives; this is seven years of kids’ lives; and the wonderful impact it had on relationships between mothers and daughters I think is terrific .And these sweet letters, some of them are sad “I wish you were my grandfather…I wish I had somebody to talk to …” things like that. It s part of their lives because its in their living room.
BR: If you could pick your favorite season, of the seven seasons , which would you say was your favorite?
EH: Oh that’s hard to say! I don’t mean to be vague. The first season of course you are biting your nails and watching the popularity charts and saying “are we going to survive” and “are we going to survive” after the second season”. I think we knew there needed to be some re-direction after season four and that came and I enjoyed season five very much. But I can’t think of a time when one season stands out from the rest except for that first and last season. We knew that we were unsure if the thing was going to survive after the first season and we knew there were rumors that we were going to have an eighth .We were always thinking “ this might be the last “ and how are we going to end it? But all of them together were a wonderful period.
BR: Well I watched the show and it was definitely one of those shows where you could have kept watching if it had kept going.
EH: Yes I think so too. The reasons for the plug being pulled are many. I talked to Lauren, I talked to Kelly, I have talked to everybody involved. It’s a complicated tapestry . I really don’t know what finally pushed it over the edge , that influenced the people at Warner Brothers, the network or the CW network to end it but we were all very sad about it.
BR: Well it was sad for the fans too, it came out of nowhere for some of them.
EH: I’ll say.
BR: Of all the roles that you‘ve had- you have so many! What would you feel has been the most intriguing of your career?
EH: Well that’s hard to say! Some of the most intriguing and difficult roles have been on the stage. I just finished last season doing the Huntington Theatre in Boston playing Pope Urban to Jay Saunders who did Galileo in a new play that was very powerful and very complex. On screen and also a play that I did years ago about World War 1 called “Journeys End”; I thought that was one of the best plays that I’ve ever done. And all the stuff I’ve done up at Williamstown, the Chekov and the heavy-duty stuff. On screen “Eleanor and Franklin” was long ago but it was one of the most intriguing and interesting characters I have ever played , which was Franklin Roosevelt. I did a wonderful piece for PBS called “Concealed Enemies” about Alger Hiss who was sent to prison for espionage .He was a very complicated guy. I got to know him, he was still alive when we did it and I spent a good deal of time with him. The pat answer is : the most intriguing role I have done is the one I am doing right now. Right now I am looking for something to do but I have been extremely lucky. I did a wonderful play with Sir Alec Guinness in London. It was the last play he ever did on stage; it was a two-character play and I was with him for seven months. That was a very intriguing proposition: to make that character interesting after seven months. Last night I had dinner with Lauren and her sister and her sisters’ new boyfriend. We talked about the perils of a long run on Broadway because he was a theatre guy and is a very talented fellow. Its hard; one of the intriguing parts other than the character you are trying to portray is how to keep the character alive and fresh over the long haul. That’s one of the difficulties of a long run in a television series; how do you maintain the freshness of the character in different situations over seven seasons- its tough.
BR: Well I think you did a good job with Richard Gilmore
EH: Thank you very much (laughs)
BR: Okay I have a weird question but one the fans would like to know : If the characters in Stars Hollow were actual people is there anyone in particular you would love to sit down and have a conversation with?
EH: (Laughs) ..Well I think I would like to sit down and have a conversation with myself! I would love to have a conversation with Laurens character and ,and all of them! I am not sure I would spend a lot of time with Ms. Patty .although I am not talking about the actress of course who was just delightful. But I live in a small town in Connecticut and there are a lot of people like those people. How Amy came up with it I don’t know because she has no experience at all of Connecticut villages but she came up with it after having visited one little village once, spent the night ,and came up with the idea. She was just incredibly imaginative. So let me see, of all the characters who would I like to sit down and talk to that’s a good one. Maybe we can come back to that .After some more questions I will have an answer for you.
BR: When you were growing up was there ever a show or movie that you were as devoted to as fans of Gilmore Girls are devoted to their show?
EH: As a kid I guess , as a really young boy, I liked Crusader Rabbit; it was just a cartoon and of course Howdy Doody . There were a couple of little local shows in Detroit that I liked; Soupy Sales as a kid. As a more adult thing I loved Paladin; it was a western ,it came just before Gunsmoke every Friday or Saturday night. I liked Yancy Derringer, I liked Casey Jones. I liked a lot of these series that came and went pretty quickly actually. I didn’t get into the habit of watching television as a religion. We didn’t get television in my house until I was 8 or 9 years old so I missed a lot of stuff. I am the last generation I think that grew up in its initial stages without television. We had the radio and that was it and people read to us. That was a great thing.
BR: What is the most interesting question that a fan has asked you?
EH: Oh boy! I think that question that you just asked is pretty interesting! Most of them have come under the heading of: hows it to work with X,Y, or Z? It’s very hard to frame..well you could talk about their faults … who did you like working with the most or what did you find out about a particular character .Somebody asked me a long time ago and a couple of people ask me this: that applies to my role as Franklin Roosevelt the President .Did he know about Pearl Harbor before the attack and what did you think of his Presidency. Things like that , the more historically oriented questions I find kind of interesting and fun to answer. But a lot of the questions fall into “whats it like” to work with Goldie Hawne or to work with Robert Redford or to work with Al Pacino. Those are hard to answer because you are on the street or you are in a crowd and you have two or three sentences and that’s not much of an answer .But I like the questions that are historically oriented about the characters that I played.
BR: I have one more question aside from the one we are going to come back to and this might be a tough one too. If you could ask the Gilmore Girls fans any question what would it be?
EH: Let me see…what was it that appealed to them the most, what was the most satisfactory element in the show ,that they loved the most. Because the fans of Gilmore Girls are really devoted and I would like to have the fans clarify what it is about the show that appeals to them so much, that pulls their interest.
BR: I think that would spawn a lot of different answers because there are so many different aspects of the show that drew people in ... Well, I have finished with my questions, aside from the question : which character on Gilmore Girls would you like to have a conversation with.
EH: Oh okay! I guess it would have to be Lauren’s character because Lorelai’s take on things is so buoyant and courageous. In the seven seasons there weren’t a lot of situations in which she could actually unload and talk about her inner life. I would love to sit down with that character and ask her what kept her going . What is the source of your courage;
where have you found the will and courage to go on in life. She’s had this constant estrangement from her father who she loves very much and her father loves her very much. That was an element in the show that I loved very much that we could never build a bridge across and I often longed for that in the writing but I was made aware that if that tension between the two of them is resolved where does the series go? You have to have that element and that’s just part of a problem in a long running television series. The characters have to stay at a particular position to each other, they can’t change positions or the fans will say “wait a minute, we’ve lost something here “.But that was a source of continuing unhappiness between Lorelai and her dad which I found sometimes difficult to deal with .You identify with these characters.and its also difficult because I loved Lauren so much -we wanted to get along and sometimes couldn’t.
BR: It was more of a solid relationship towards the end but it wasn’t completely fixed.
EH: It was, there was an element in which she could communicate with her father far better than she could with her mother. Emily simply was an immovable force she just never changed.
BR: The dynamic you two had was great it was believable that it was that sort of family element.
EH: Kelly and I got along terrifically .I just had some emails from her this morning. Its unusual in a funny way that actors get very close doing a film and a play and often that kind of intimacy doesn’t last, that kind of friendship for the reasons of our profession .We just spin off into other directions and we don’t see each other; but especially in a television series the fact that we get along together so many of us so comfortable together,is a wonderful thing.
BR: I think that closeness showed through watching the show.
EH: I think so, I think you are right.
BR: Okay, I think that’s all my questions.
EH: Well this has been a very pleasant interview, thanks for it
BR: Well thank you for agreeing to it, this is very exciting for us and for the fans.
EH: Sure…bless your heart
BR: Thank you.