The surly diner owner, Luke Danes, wasn’t supposed to be a big role on Gilmore Girls, but as the years progressed, it was clear he was a star. By the end of the show’s seven-season run, fans had proclaimed they loved Luke and could only imagine Lorelai Gilmore with him. Scott Patterson’s career, in a lot of ways, was made by the series and his role as Luke. While he’s moved on, taken more parts, and opened his own coffee business in the intervening years, he’ll always be Luke to Gilmore Girls fans. Patterson, however, wasn’t confident he would get the role when he first met with casting agents. In fact, he was pretty sure he wouldn’t get it, and that attitude may have indirectly led him to the biggest role of his career thus far.
Scott Patterson didn’t think he’d land a role on Gilmore Girls
Back in 2000, Patterson had spent two years auditioning for roles but hadn’t landed one that he was excited about. Sure, he had early successes. He portrayed Mike McGrevey in Little Big League, and he had a few false starts with series that didn’t get picked up, but by 2000 things seemed to be on a professional downturn. By the time he walked into the audition for Gilmore Girls, he was completely “over it.”
In a sitdown interview with Glamour he said on the day that he auditioned for Gilmore Girls he had two other auditions. He was convinced he wouldn’t get the role of Luke because the script was “too good” and walked into the reading cynical and annoyed. When Amy Sherman-Palladino and her team asked him to read a second scene, he was shocked and, apparently, a bit put out. When he was done, he asked them if he could finally leave. He left the room, assuming the part would go to someone with star power. His irritation may have been precisely what helped him land the role.
Casting agents stopped seeing actors after they met Scott
Patterson’s cynical attitude was exactly what casting agents were looking for. Before he had gotten home the same evening, he had landed the role of Luke. He told Glamour that by the time he had reached his house, there was already a voicemail on his phone informing him that he had gotten the role. He later came to find out that they had stopped seeing actors for the part as soon as he walked out the door. Nothing had come of his other audition, apparently, and that was the end of it.
Patterson became one of the breakout stars of the series. While Gilmore Girls was primarily about Lorelai and Rory, the secondary characters made the series. No one could imagine the show without Richard and Emily Gilmore, and no one could imagine it without Luke, either. When he signed up for the series, though, he was offered a guest spot for just the pilot. He took it, thankfully, and his role grew each year. Eventually, Luke would serve as Lorelai’s biggest love interest and, by the time Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life ended, her husband. It wasn’t supposed to be that way from the start, though.
The role of Luke Danes didn’t originally exist
While it all worked out for the best, the role of Luke was not initially written into Gilmore Girls, and his part certainly wasn’t supposed to be so expansive. Sherman-Palladino told Entertainment Weekly that Luke was not created to be Lorelai’s love interest. Rather, it happened organically. She noted that she knew the two would have to get together at some point just a few episodes into the series. She told the publication that she first noticed Luke and Lorelai’s chemistry during a scene in Doosey’s market. In the scene, Lorelai is spying on Dean after she finds out he had kissed Rory. The two actors just played off of each other perfectly.
There is another reason no one had romance on the brain at the time, though. Luke’s character was originally a woman. Instead of Luke’s Diner, Rory and Lorelai were supposed to spend their free time at Daisy’s Diner. Executives, however, felt like the cast was too female-centric and asked Sherman-Palladino to add a male character. In that first episode, she simply swapped out the name Daisy for Luke, to create Patterson’s part. There wasn’t supposed to be anything else to it. The chemistry ensured there was, though.