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- The gift of education
‘Gilmore’ guy with local ties makes name in Hollywood
Most college students are all too familiar with the constant rigors of early morning classes and endless streams of reading assignments. After four years of higher education, the majority of those co-eds are ready to say goodbye to the classroom after receiving their diploma, but that certainly was not the case for Matt Czuchry. The 28-year-old “Gilmore Girls” actor, who graduated from the College of Charleston in 1999 with a degree in both history and political science, seems to have enjoyed college more than most. He continues to further his ‘education,’ by portraying a Yale student on the popular weekly WB series.
Cast as wealthy charmer Logan Huntzberger, Czuchry joined the series, now in its sixth season, as a regular last year. Set in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, “Gilmore Girls” follows Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) and her 30-something mother Lorelai (Lauren Graham) as they bicker and bond while trying to make the most of their unique mother-daughter relationship.
New Haven makes it to the small screen when Rory enrolls at Yale, falling hard for fellow student Czuchry. Although the show is filmed entirely in Los Angeles, locals will no doubt catch the frequent mentions of surrounding towns and popular landmarks.
While acting is a pursuit the Londonderry, N.H., born performer did not envision post-college, it is an undertaking he feels definitely happened for a reason. Intending to enroll in law school, the now-actor explains how a less than stellar performance on an entrance exam was the initial tip off that perhaps the law profession may have not been his true calling.
“I didn’t do too well on the LSAT’s,” Czuchry says with a chuckle. “I even took a Kaplan course with a teacher, but didn’t do well.” Shortly thereafter, a chance encounter with that very same teacher solidified the recent graduate’s new goal.
“Six months before I was going to move to LA [after deciding law was not for me], I saw my teacher in a liquor store. He said [my new career path] was meant to be, that not doing well on the test was a part of it. I had so many signs from my junior year in college to when I actually did move to LA that were slowly pushing me forward,” he said.
Arriving on the west coast, the newly-minted actor accepted a role on the WB series “Young Americans” and was cast in the film “Eight Legged Freaks,” before settling into his current “Gilmore” stint. Looking back on the “terrifying” audition process he endured to secure his latest role, Czuchry is able to laugh when recounting his fears.
“I went in last year and read for the creators Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino] a couple of times and did a test in front of the WB network and studio executives. I did my [lines] once and was so excited,” he remembers, practically beaming. “I was asked to reread and said ‘I can’t do it again, I can’t do it better than that!’ but did. It took about four or five days before I found out I had gotten the job. That period of time was very intense.”
Getting the nod was indeed a huge step for the actor, who auditioned with only a few hours prep time. “I got that scene at 7 the night before, and went over to my buddy Ed’s house with a six pack of beer and said ‘we’ve got a couple hours of work. You’ve got to help me out.’ [Sure enough] it turned out all right.”
With his initial fears at bay, Czuchry is now able to fully devote his time and talents to portraying Stars Hollow’s newest neighbor. The cast has completed filming on eight of the season’s 22 episodes, but the actor remains tight-lipped about future storylines.
“In next week’s episode, there’s an old character [fan favorite Milo Ventimiglia] that comes back into Rory’s life,” he said. “We just filmed it and I think audiences are really going to like it. That episode really moves the season into a whole other direction.”
Such plot intricacies and character interactions are what the cast member feels drives the dramatic comedy. While fans remain loyal, critics are often slow to warm up to the family-friendly aspect of the program, something the actor feels is a rarity in today’s primetime lineup.
“The fast-paced dialogue and [quick] editing present an overall tone to the show, [making] it quite a bit different than not only any other teen show, but any other show on television,” he said.
While the majority of the series’ fans fall into the mother-daughter category, two of Czuchry’s admittedly biggest fans are his grandparents, who make their home in nearby Andover.
“I have a strong [personal] connection to Connecticut,” the actor says fondly, speaking outside of his fictional role as a Yalie. “My parents grew up there, my dad played basketball for UConn. My grandparents still live there. They didn’t have the WB before this, but got a satellite so they could watch the show. They call my parents after the episodes.”
The majority of his family has since relocated to Tennessee, but there is one local haunt Czuchry remembers well, the Shady Glen diner in Manchester, and nearly drools when speaking of their “unbelievable” cheeseburgers and black raspberry milkshakes.
Indeed, he jokes about the food, but reflecting on his Northern roots serves as a way to realize how far he has come and to anticipate what the future might bring. Armed with a keen outlook on an industry often dictated by ill-advised new actors looking to cash in, Czuchry understands that with hard work and true passion, the limits are endless.
“I’m always thinking about learning and my potential. I’ve I learned that there is no such thing as ‘making it,’ in the sense that there’s no end point. There are places in your career where things change for you. That’s happened for me with ‘Gilmore Girls,’ but in no way is that a stopping point. [My career] is certainly a reward of putting things out there and persevering,” he said.