Before Their Big Break, These Stars Started off Their Careers With Minor Roles on Gilmore Girls

Tue Aug 10 2021

Let’s face it, no matter how many years have passed since Gilmore Girls last aired on our screens, this show never fails to put a smile on our faces. No matter if it’s winter spring summer, or even fall. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, with the help of show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, first captured our hearts back in 2000. And while its series finale aired way over a decade ago, we still aren’t over their quick wit and fast-talking ways. Thanks to Netflix however, we don’t have to be. We can still rewatch Gilmore Girls over and over to our heart’s content.

And while you do rewatch the entire series for the 10th time, hopefully with a full table of unhealthy snacks at your disposable, you might recognize a few familiar faces that you didn’t recognize before. There are actually many stars that have since gotten their big break which actually started their careers on Gilmore Girls. And while some look almost unrecognizable, you’ll be sure to spill your coffee when seeing the big names that have made their way to Stars Hollow way back in the day.

Rami Malek as a Member of Lane’s Bible Study Group

Before Mr.Robot and before Bohemian Rhapsody, actor Rami Malek was just getting his foot in the door in show business. And one of his very first acting debuts was on Gilmore Girls. The young Malek is barely recognizable in this brief scene, where he was granted only three short lines.

In the scene, Malek plays the role of Andy, a member of Lane’s bible study group. You can catch him in the season four episode titled “In The Clamor And The Clangor.” When asked about the role Malek said, “It was an opportunity that gave me a stepping stone to get that next job. [Booking Gilmore Girls] let me feel like this career was not insurmountable.” Today he has several prestigious awards under his belt.

Max Greenfield as Dean’s Drunk Friend

Actor Max Greenfield is known to many as the preppy, fun-loving roommate Schmit on the hit series New Girl. And if you haven’t caught him there, you are sure to recognize him from at least one of the several impressive roles that he has booked in recent years. Before finding this success though, true fans will be quick to point out that one of Greenfield’s first gigs was a very brief appearance on Gilmore Girls.

In the season four episode, “Chicken or Beef?” Greenfield’s character is seen joining Dean and the rest of his buddies as they are celebrating Dean’s bachelor party. All of the friends appear to be having a drunken good time, singing high school fight songs and amping themselves up for the remainder of the night. Greenfield was granted a few minor lines however his character is not seen again throughout the series.

Jon Hamm as Lorelai’s Brief Love Interest

Even those who have yet to see the popular series Mad Men still know that actor Jon Hamm is often recognized for his role as the womanizing Don Draper. But before he was seducing women on that series, he was bringing his charm over to Gilmore Girls. And even then, he still seemed to have some way with the ladies as he managed to spark the interest of Lorelai Gilmore herself.

Sadly, the romance between the two did not last long as Hamm’s character, Peyton Sanders, ended up being a bit of a snore, according to Lorelai. You can catch the episode, “Eight O’Clock at the Oasis,” in the show’s third season. Today Hamm has earned himself an Emmy, two Golden Globes, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, among others. So it’s safe to say he has made it in Hollywood since this brief appearance.

Danny Pudi as a Yale Daily News Contributer

Who here watches Community? If you do then you are well acquainted with Abed, the socially awkward movie buff and a proud member of the Greendale Community College study group. Well before actor Danny Pudi started attending Greendale, he was walking the halls of Yale University, working alongside Rory on The Yale Daily News.

Contrary to many of the others on this list, Pudi actually made his appearance on Gilmore Girls for more than one episode. His character, Raj, can be seen in season six, episodes 13 and 14 as well as season seven, episodes six and seven.

Adam Brody as Lane’s Bandmate and Boyfriend

Who can forget when Adam Brody won us all over as the charming yet awkward, Dave Rygalski, Lane’s first love interest on Gilmore Girls. Dave, the indie music-loving guitar player made his appearance back in season three of the show. However, to the dismay of many fans, he did not make it back to season four. As you might have guessed, Brody was unable to return to the show because he was heading off to start filming for The O.C.

This was probably a good call since The O.C. is ultimately what made him a star and teen heartthrob. That doesn’t mean Brody didn’t appreciate his time on Gilmore Girls though. “It was a joy,” he said in an interview with The A.V. Club. “Almost 20 years later, I realize that’s still some of the best-written stuff I’ve ever gotten to do and the rarity of it.”

Chad Michael Murray as The School Bad Boy

Every school needs to have its bad boy, and Rory’s high school, Chilton Prep is no exception. Taking on this honor was Tristan Dugray, played by the one and only Chad Michael Murray. This was way before Murray was known by the masses as Lucas Scott from One Tree Hill. He made his first appearance on Gilmore Girls in the second episode of the first season and goes on to star in 11 episodes.

The show almost explored a relationship between Tristan and Rory but Murray had to leave the show to start filming for One Tree Hill before we could see this blossom. When talking with TODAY about his time on Gilmore Girls, Murray recalled, “I believe that was my first recurring role on television. And so, you know, for me, I was really just getting accustomed to the world. And so, I was just kind of holding on for dear life.”

Alex Borstein as a Sassy Harp Player

Who remembers when comedian Alex Borstein made her brief appearance on Gilmore Girls as Drella, the testy harp player at The Independence Inn? Well did you know that Borstein was initially meant to play a much larger role in the show? She was actually the first choice to play Sookie, Lorelai’s business partner, and best friend. Unfortunately, she was unavailable to take the part and the role went to Melissa McCarthy.

To make this fun fact even more fun, actor Jackson Douglas, who played Sookie’s on-screen husband, Jackson Belville, was actually married to Borstein at the time. Today Borstein is well known through her role as Susie Myerson in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as well as the voice of Lois Griffin in Family Guy.

Krysten Ritter as a Yale Student

Before we all got to know and love Krysten Ritter as Marvel superhero, Jessica Jones, she was seen on Gilmore Girls, playing the part of Lucy, Rory’s friend at Yale University. Ritter appeared in eight episodes in season seven of the show.

This was one of Ritter’s first major acting roles on television. Prior to this she also appeared in eight episodes of Veronica Mars but she didn’t become the award-winning star that she is today until years later.

Vicroria Justice as a Children’s Party Goer

Do you recognize this adorable face? If some of you are thinking that the girl pictured below looks just like a young Victoria Justice, then you are absolutely correct. Gilmore Girls was Justice’s very first acting debut. She starred in a brief scene that was set at a children’s Lord of The Rings-themed party organized by Lorelai and Sookie.

The episode, titled “The Hobbit, the Sofa, and Digger Stiles,” can be found in season four of the series. In the scene, Justice plays Jill #2, and her lines consist of her telling Sookie that her food tastes like diapers. As you might imagine, that did not go over so well.

Melora Hardin as Chirstopher’s Potential Love Interest

Before she was Trudy Monk in Monk or Jan Levinson in The Office, actress Melora Hardin caught all our attention through her brief appearance on Gilmore Girls. Hardin appeared in season six where she played the role of psychologist, Carolyn “Lynnie” Bates.

Emily Gilmore invites Bates to Friday night dinner in hopes to set her up with Rory’s father, Christopher. An act that gets interrupted by Lorelai’s fast-talking ways. Hardin is not seen again on the show but as we know now, she has found many other avenues to make it big in the business.

Jane Lynch as Richard’s Nurse

These days Jane Lynch is well known as the vindictive cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, which is the character that she plays on the hit show, Glee. If a series about show choir is not your thing, then you might have seen her as a series regular on Two and a Half Men or as the latest host of the famed game show, The Weakest Link.

Before these gigs, however, which made her a familiar face to all types of audiences, she had a very brief role on Gilmore Girls. Lynch appeared in the episode titled “Forgiveness and Stuff,” which aired in the show’s first season. The actress played the role of the nurse who was tending to Richard Gilmore during his stay in the hospital.

Billy Burke as Lorelai’s Almost Boyfriend

You might recognize this handsome mug as Charlie Swan from the Twilight film series. Before he took on this role, however, actor Billy Burke was charming his way through a few episodes of Gilmore Girls. In the show, he played Alex Lesman, a friend of a friend of Sookie’s, who caught the eye of Lorelai after a chance encounter.

The two briefly dated, and Lorelai even went outside of her comfort zone to go fishing with the guy. The relationship fizzled out however and Burke was never seen of again, at least on this show. The actor’s brief cameo can be seen in the show’s third season.

Riki Lindhome as a Secret Society Member

Actress Riki Lindhome actually made two brief appearances on Gilmore Girls, as two different characters. The first time around was in the show’s third season where she played a girl in a Stars Hollow classroom. She returned however for a larger role in seasons five and six as Juliet, a member of Yale’s secret society, the Life and Death Brigade.

These days, Linhome is a familiar face both in television and film. She is also known as one-half of the singing duo, Garfunkel and Oats. Since Gilmore Girls, she has appeared in the movies such as My Best Friend’s GirlThe Last House on the Left, and Million Dollar Baby. She has also starred in shows The Big Bang Theory and New Girl.

Seth MacFarlane as Emily’s Lawyer

Seth MacFarlane is another guest that played two different characters during their brief stint on Gilmore Girls. He first made his appearance in the show’s second season when he portrayed the role of Zach, a business school student who graduated alongside Lorelai. This was MacFarlane’s first live-action role.

He then returned to the show in season three, this time as Bob Merriam, Emily Gilmore’s lawyer. At the time, MacFarlane had already created and premiered his hit animated comedy series, Family Guy. Since then he has created American Dad and The Cleveland Show and has become one of the biggest names in comedy.

Bryce Johnson as a Business School Student

Before gracing our screens as Detective Darren Wilden on Pretty Little Liars, actor Bryce Johnson was yet another familiar face to get his start on Gilmore Girls. Johnson appeared in the season two episode, “Run Away, Little Boy,” where he played the role of Pual.

Paul was another love interest of Lorelai, whom she met while attending business school. Their time together didn’t last too long, however. Lorelai was just not able to brush off the age gap between them. We are sure the South Park shirt didn’t really help his case either.

Abigail Spencer as a Bridesmaid

Fans of the hit series, Suits will instantly recognize this face as Corporate Attorney, Dana Scott. But years before she was laying down the law as Ms. Scott, actress Abigail Spencer was just getting her career started with a small role in Gilmore Girls. Spencer can be spotted in the season six episode, “Bridesmaids Revisited.” 

She plays the role of Megan, one of the bridesmaids attending the wedding of Honor Huntzberger, Logan’s sister. This wasn’t the very start of her acting career, however. Spencer was already well known among Soap Oprah fans through her time starring in All My Children. Since Gilmore Girls, she also snagged roles in Oz the Great and PowerfulThis Means War, and Cowboys & Aliens.

Nasim Pedrad as an Innocent Waitress

Here’s one you may have missed. Nasim Pedrad, known to most as Aly on New Girl, also made a very brief appearance on Gilmore Girls. You can catch her in season six in the episode titled “Bridesmaids Revisited,” where she is cast as “Waitress.” This was Pedrad’s second television role and third ever onscreen character.

In the scene, a drunken Rory gets caught lecturing the poor waitress, who has no idea what to do with the situation. She is portrayed as quiet and a bit awkward which is a far cry from Aly, the no-nonsense TV cop, or as the confidant Dalia in Disney’s live-action Aladdin.

Arielle Kebbel as Dean’s Wife

One of Arielle Kebbel’s first roles in her acting career was as Lindsay Forester, seen in seasons four and five of Gilmore Girls. Lyndsay was Dean’s girlfriend, turned wife, turned ex-wife that temporarily got between Rory and Dean’s romance. While fans have mixed reviews on how they felt about Lindsay, Kebbel certainly left her mark on the show.

Kebbel went on to star in many more television series following her stint on Gilmore Girls, including several seasons on The Vampire Diaries. She also appeared in films such as John Tucker Must Die, The Grudge 2, and Think Like a Man.

Nick Offerman as Sookie’s Brother in Law

Ever wonder who Nick Offerman was before he became the one and only Ron Swanson, our favorite Parks Director in the hit sitcom, Parks and Recreation? Well long before he landed that career-changing gig, Nick Offerman was stealing the scene on the set of Gilmore Girls, albeit, playing a very similar persona as Ron.

Offerman’s first appearance can be seen in season four, “The Festival of Living Art.” He returned two seasons later in season six, “Always a Godmother, Never a God.” In both episodes, he plays the role of Beau Belleville, Jackson’s disgruntled brother.