Chad Michael Murray paid a virtual visit to “Today” on Wednesday, and looked back at one of his earliest screen roles: Tristan Dougray, bad boy classmate of Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) at Chilton prep school.
“I believe that was my first recurring role on television,” he recalled.
“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. And, you know, [“Gilmore Girls” creator] Amy Sherman Palladino … her writing was just so on point; it still is obviously today. And she’s so good at getting the best out of you and getting the most out of you at every moment,” he added.
“I was so excited every day to drive on to that Warner Brothers lot and to go see Stars Hollow and to to be in it, and Scott Patterson (who played Luke Danes) would take us under his wing,” he continued.
According to Murray, he’d always pictured Tristan as “the kind of guy that you know you shouldn’t be around, but you kind of want to be.”
Despite the character’s inherent jerkiness — his signature insult was mocking Rory by calling her “Mary” — Murray admits that fans of the show have genuine affection for Tristan.
“One response I always get about Tristan is how much they love him. They really do. I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say — which you would think I would receive all the time — no one has ever come up to me and said, ‘Tristan was a jerk. Why did you call her Mary?’ Never happened?” he said, crediting Bledel for making their scenes together sparkle.
“She just was so committed to Rory,” he said of his former co-star. “Alexis was awesome. She was on it. She’s the one who added to the majority of my scenes what’s right. So we would talk things out, always, to make sure that everybody’s comfortable in every scene and and you know, again, newbie coming in, I’d be the guy asking questions, because you know, maybe I’d be gone for two or three episodes, and then come back back.”
Another favourite “Gilmore Girls” co-star was Jared Padalecki, who played Rory’s boyfriend Dean — who was usually at odds with Tristan.
“These fight sequences where, you know, you’re such a jerk, but Jared is, like, the sweetest guy in the whole wide world. And the guy, we get along so well. And we’re having it out. And it was always fun for me to be on set and for us to have these scenes where we absolutely despise each other, but yet behind closed doors, you know, offset like we’re just palling around and two goofy kids,” he said.
He credits the show’s enduring popularity to being so relatable.
“There’s so many characters that we can all identify with, right? And at the centre of the entire show is heart. There’s heart. And at the end of the day, I think we’re all looking for love. Whether you’re Luke, or Lorelei, or Rory, or Jess, or Dean, or Paris, or Tristan. We’re all just kind of going through this big life. Trying to find our way. And that’s what storytelling is, right?” he shared.