Gilmore Girls fans might fondly recall the deep grandfatherly love that Richard Gilmore displayed for Rory Gilmore. That love translated off-screen; Edward Herrmann, who played Richard, became very close with Alexis Bledel, who played Rory. In fact, their friendship began when Gilmore Girls producers asked Herrmann to look out for the young actor. Here’s the story of how the grandfather-daughter duo became such good pals.

Richard Gilmore felt protective over his granddaughter, Rory Gilmore

Rory and Richard’s relationship went from strangers to best friends very quickly on Gilmore Girls. The two interacted at the first Friday Night Dinner with Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) and Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), but Richard didn’t quite know how to speak to a teenager. However, he quickly realized that Rory was no ordinary teen when the two enjoyed a golf outing and got to know each other.

Soon, Rory and Richard bonded over their love of reading, travel, and more. He became very protective over his granddaughter, even going so far as to interrogate her boyfriend, Dean Forrester (Jared Padalecki), about his future.

Rory and Richard may have had their fights, but their love for each other was always clear. Rory honored her grandfather after Richard’s death by choosing the Gilmore home as her writing spot in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Fans might recall the touching scene where the young journalist walked through the quiet house, reminiscing about her fondest memories with Richard and Emily.

Edward Herrmann and Alexis Bledel shared a similarly sweet bond

Similar to their on-screen relationship, Herrmann and Bledel grew closer over time. Speaking to AS Berman for 2010’s The Gilmore Girls Companion book, Herrmann recalled looking after Bledel on set. Because he was such an experienced actor, the producers asked Herrmann to take Bledel, a newcomer, under his wing. Gilmore Girls required long and overwhelming hours, which Bledel was not used to as a 19-year-old.

“She had a very tough time for the first couple of seasons because she didn’t have any acting experience to speak of,” Herrmann explained. “What was tough about it for her was that this series depended so heavily on the interaction between Lauren and Alexis, and they were on camera so much of the time.”

When the producers asked Herrmann to make sure Bledel could cope with the job’s demands, he told them she felt “burned out.”

From there, the esteemed actor made a point to spend time with Bledel. He said he often took her to the Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood and ensured she had what she needed for success.

Additionally, Herrmann saw a bit of himself in Bledel. As a young actor, he also spent time with more experienced actors and leaned on them when he needed support.

Edward Herrmann compared Alexis Bledel to Audrey Hepburn

As Berman noted in his book, Herrmann “adored” Bledel. Herrmann saw a great deal of potential in the young star and even compared her to Audrey Hepburn:

There is something about Audrey Hepburn, too, which is not actorish, it is simply this “presence.” Alexis has this transparency about her — there’s no character except this extraordinary presence. It’s raw. Whatever is said to her has this ripple that goes through her. She’s extraordinary.

Likewise, Bledel had only positive things to say about the Eleanor and Franklin actor. After Herrmann’s death in 2014, Bledel shared a sweet statement to TV Line in remembrance of her on-screen grandfather.

“Ed Herrmann was a wonderful actor and a kind man. He was endlessly knowledgeable about theater, TV, and film, and would generously share his wisdom or tell stories from a long and rewarding career,” she said. “I am grateful to him for that and will miss him tremendously. He loved acting and was the head of our Gilmore family with his strong presence and great sense of humor. May he rest in peace.”

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