‘Gilmore Girls’: Sherilyn Fenn Was Reportedly Amy Sherman-Palladino’s 1st Choice For Lorelai Gilmore

Filmed more than two decades ago, Gilmore Girls has become a classic TV series, in large part due to Lauren Graham’s portrayal of Lorelai Gilmore. Graham’s organic handling of the lightning-speed dialog, pop-culture references, and quirky humor combined to make Gilmore Girls a show that many return to again and again. However, fans may be shocked to learn that Graham was not the creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s first choice for Lorelai. 

Sherilyn Fenn smiling
Sherilyn Fenn | Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images

Sherilyn Fenn is an accomplished TV star

According to IMDb, “Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino originally wanted Sherilyn Fenn to audition for the role of Lorelai Gilmore, but she was appearing in Rude Awakening (1998) at the time.” Sherman-Palladino found a way to work Fenn into the series after all, however.

Fenn had two guest appearances on Gilmore Girls: One as Jess’ father’s girlfriend, Sasha, who Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) meets when he visits his father and Sasha’s house in Venice Beach, Ca. The actor’s second guest appearance was Anna Nardini, Luke’s old flame and the mother of his teenage daughter, Anna (Vanessa Marano).

Fenn is well known for her role as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks (both the original and the reboot in 2017) and her roles in popular ’90s movies, Of Mice and Men, Three of Hearts, and Fatal Instinct. In addition to her appearances on Gilmore Girls, Fenn has also appeared on Dawson’s Creek, as well as Boston Public, House, Psych, Ray Donovan, and Shameless. Most recently, the actor had recurring roles in Goliath, S.W.A.T., and Shining Vale.

Lorelai Gilmore in ‘Gilmore Girls

Daughter of the formidable Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) and mother of Rory (Alexis Bledel), Lorelai Gilmore is the tie that binds in Gilmore Girls. At once hip, down-to-earth, and flawed, Lorelai is the “every girl” that finds herself struggling between where she comes from and where she wants to go. 

After Lorelai gets pregnant at 16 years old, she runs away from her life in her affluent parents’ kingdom to carve out a place for herself in the world. The series begins when Rory is 16 and Lorelai has successfully built a life for them in the small hamlet of Star’s Hollow. And while Emily Gilmore is largely the forgotten Gilmore girl and Rory is undeniably essential to the show, it is likely Lorelai that is the show’s most beloved character. 

Lauren Graham’s Lorelai Gilmore is beloved by fans

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Though Graham had been working in television for six years before Gilmore Girls aired in 2000, Lorelai Gilmore is largely considered the actor’s breakout role. In 2003, Graham starred alongside Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa and Seeing Other People. Graham then appeared in several other films like The Amateurs, Because I Said So, Evan Almighty, and another hit TV show, Parenthood.

In 2016, Graham returned for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. She was joined by much of the cast, including Bledel, Bishop, Ventimiglia, Matt Czuchry, Scott Patterson, Yanic Truesdale, Sean Gunn, and Keiko Agena.

And although Marano returned in her role as Luke’s daughter, April, Fenn, did not reprise any of her roles in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. And while the spunky and talented Fenn would likely have done a fantastic job as Lorelai Gilmore, it is nearly impossible to see anyone else but Graham in the role.