‘Gilmore Girls’ Star Liz Torres Used Advice From Lucille Ball When Playing Miss Patty, ‘the Writers Are Your Betters’
Liz Torres spent seven years playing Miss Patty on Gilmore Girls. While Torres had a ton of acting credits to her name, Miss Patty is the part that fans connect her with most often. As Stars Hollow’s resident dance teacher, Miss Patty was fun, eccentric, and exuded sexual energy. Torres insists that she didn’t add her spin to the famed character. In fact, she once revealed she was far different from the outspoken character she is best known for. Instead of trying to make Miss Patty into something she wanted, she utilized advice from Lucille Ball to make the character pop.
Liz Torres used Lucille Ball’s advice when playing Miss Patty
While Torres was perfect in the role of Miss Patty, the famed actor admits she didn’t add much spin to the part. In fact, she told Starry Magazine that she utilized some advice given to her by the famed Lucille Ball when she took on the role.
She told the publication that Ball once told her, “The writers are your betters.” Ball told Torres that the writer’s job was the words, and her job, as an actor, was to “make it fit your mouth and to work it and to bring it to life.” Torres did just that, and her acting skills and the character’s juicy but mysterious backstory made her a fan favorite. Ball’s advice was certainly serendipitous.
Ball wasn’t around when Torres happened into the role of Miss Patty. The famed comedian died in 1989, 11 years before Gilmore Girls premiered. The advice was still incredibly fitting for the part. There was a strict “no ad-libbing” policy on the set of Gilmore Girls. Actors were not encouraged to improvise any lines. They were to be said exactly as they were written. Torres stuck to that, and it worked.
Amy Sherman-Palladino didn’t allow actors to add to the script
Gilmore Girls was unique in a lot of ways. The show’s snappy dialogue certainly set it apart from other shows of its time. Most Gilmore Girls scripts were twice as long as scripts for other projects. That quick dialogue ensured the actors couldn’t improvise. It was strictly prohibited.
Miss Patty wasn’t the only Gilmore Girls character who stayed on script. Sean Gunn, Scott Patterson, and Lauren Graham have all mentioned the strict “stick to the script” policy that was in place during the show’s seven-season run. Gunn, who played the ever-lovable Kirk Gleason, told Vulture that not a single syllable was ever improvised.
While that was true for the cast, in general, a special exception was made for guest star Norman Mailer. Mailer appeared briefly as himself in a season 5 episode of the famed series. He improvised all of his lines because he couldn’t memorize lines, he recalled in an interview with New York Magazine.