The 77-year-old actor opens up to ET about his favorite moments on the show and answers some hot button fan debates.
Grab the Chinese takeout and put on a pot of coffee because it's Gilmore Girls season. The beloved mother-daughter drama starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel as Lorelai and Rory Gilmore wrapped in 2007 with a four-film revival on Netflix, A Year in the Life, in 2016. But to this day, audiences still binge watch the series and UPtv is once again providing fans with its annual GilMORE the Merrier binge-a-thon, hosted by everyone's favorite town selectman (sorry, Jackson), Taylor Doose!
Actor Michael Winters will be in character as the fearless leader of Stars Hollow as GilMORE the Merrier takes fans through all 153 episodes of the series, plus the four A Year in the Life movies.
Viewers can follow along as Winters takes fans through watch-and-win trivia questions, special series recaps, and pop-up trivia.
The binge-a-thon is kicking off on Monday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. ET on UPtv and will run through Sunday, Nov. 27 at 3 a.m. ET. It's sure to make your Thanksgiving "tofurkey-er" and give you the sudden ability to "smell snow."
ET caught up with Winters to talk about his memorable turn as Taylor Doose and to get his take on some of the fandom's most polarizing topics.
ET: We're very excited for this binge-a-thon coming up. I know this time of year people get really into watching Gilmore Girls. Every year it seems like there's more and more interest. What do you credit to that?
Michael Winters: It must be something true at the heart of the material. That's been true all along. Women mostly and their connections with their mothers and their daughters, it just seems to be deeper than I would have thought, not being a mother or a daughter. But there's something that people just hang onto and that town, that sweet, eccentric place that I think people react to. I guess, I don't really know. It's sort of mysterious to me too. It's nice, but I know because I get stopped on the street still to this day, years afterwards, even in a small part like mine. People are really connected to it. It does seem to be a female thing more than anything else, although I've met a lot of men too, but mostly women.
ET: When you get stopped on the street, what's the number one thing people say to you or a quote they give?
MW: The thing is actually, 'Did anyone ever tell you you look exactly like this guy on TV?' So I have fun with that sometimes. Just the surprise of seeing me on the street, nothing directly to the show. I'll tell this one great story. I was waiting for a table at a restaurant when I was in New York visiting once and this gay couple came up to me and said, 'We're going to get married and we wanted to get married in Stars Hollow, so we looked all over Connecticut until we found a town that was as like it as we could and then we got married there. I thought that was kind of sweet.
ET: Do you have a favorite memory from the set, maybe a favorite episode or moment from filming that really stood out to you?
MW: Yes, I've told this before... when I'm running for ombudsman and I do it every year and I always just win, well, somebody decides they're tired of that and they put up a candidate opposite me. And I'm losing in the election, which it was normally just given to me. So there's one point where Lorelai and Luke (Scott Patterson) are sitting in the diner and they're looking through the glass window into my sweet shop and they see me sitting in there sort of in the dark just really sad because I'm losing this election and just out of nowhere I pick up a can of Cool Whip, spray whipped cream, I pick it up and fill my [mouth] and put it back down. I don't say anything. I just thought that was so funny, just hilarious.
ET: So in Stars Hollow, Taylor is kind of the president of Stars Hollow. Who would you say is the Vice President? Is it Miss Patty or is it Kirk?
MW: Gosh, that's a good question. I guess it would have to be Kirk (Sean Gunn), because he turns up in all kinds of guises. I think at the very beginning of the series, way, way back. He was on every episode, but he was someone different every time. But it took a while for them to settle into who he was, that he was Kirk and that he was always going to be the same character. The people I dealt with all the time were Luke, a lot, and the girls, of course, and Patty (Liz Torres). Liz and I, when we do the town meetings, she and I sat up on the dais and sort of ran the meetings. To shoot it, they would shoot all day long and that wasn't the set, that was the very place, that was the inside of what you see the front of. It was just this old wooden building. We would sit up there and they'd shoot over past us to all the people in town.... It would take all day to shoot one of those meetings. Meantime, Liz and I just sat there and threw our lines in. Sometimes we wouldn't get dressed during the day, we wouldn't get into wardrobe until late in the day. We just had the best time. We just jabbered and, of course, she had done everything and knew everyone and worked with everybody. And we got into a thing where we'd just be sitting around and one or the other of us would just start singing some old song, some pop song or some saloon song. She knew all of them... I knew part and she knew part. And somebody would sing two lines and the other one would sing the next two lines. We just did that as a running thing when we ran out of other stuff to talk about. But that was my favorite times, I think. That was really fun. She was just a fabulous person. That was great.
ET: What do you think Taylor would be up to these days?
MW: Oh, same old thing. He'd be running around trying to fix something or talk somebody into something, I don't know. Trying to get all the facades repainted or build a new gazebo or who knows what. How he would deal with the traffic lights. He was always into the traffic lights. Because he was never, everybody always says, 'Oh, you're the mayor!' I said, 'No, no I'm not the mayor.' David Huddleston, in fact, played the mayor in only a couple of episodes. I was an ombudsman that people could come to with their problems, a sort of intermediary with the mayor. But I acted like the mayor. I acted like the king, actually, the president, whatever, running things.
ET: In the revival, they make a sort of cheeky reference to Taylor's sexuality.
MW: Yeah! I thought it took them forever to do that. I was really surprised. Sometime earlier in the run there was some message about 'girly magazines' that they'd found in his mail or something. And it was like, 'Well, that's not what I was thinking.' But that never got pursued. Nor did the gay thing... That's the closest it ever got.
ET: You know I have to ask if you've had any conversations about any potential future episodes with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino or anyone?
MW: Not directly with them. I'm not in touch directly with people. Every once and a while I hear from somebody, but I think everybody was pretty clear that once Marvelous Mrs. Maisel got picked up, that that was going to be their thing. I remember when the reboot was over, I remember talking to Lauren [Graham] and saying, 'Well, I guess that's it.' And she said, 'Well, you know, I don't know. The fourth movie in that is very open ended.' And I wasn't in the fourth part so I didn't know that script and she said, 'It's very open that we could easily come back.' But then Marvelous Mrs. Maisel happened and I said, 'Oh well, they're never going to have the time to go back and do that even if they wanted to.' And I don't know how successful the reboot was.
ET: I think people watched and loved it. And fans of the series always want more.
MW: Definitely, and fans of the series always say, 'When is there going to be more?' And I say, 'I have no idea,' and I say that about Mrs. Maisel because finally they got recognized, Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino], for the work that they had done. They never got Emmy nominations or anything and there was brouhaha about that at times during the run of the show, I remember. And then with Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, suddenly they were getting the kind of response that they deserved all along. I thought the same was true of Lauren [Graham]. I thought she was a tremendous actor. I don't think she's ever gotten the recognition. You know, she works and people know her and like her and everything -- but she should be more than.
ET: I agree, I agree. If they were ever to do future episodes, would you be interested in returning as Taylor?
MW: Oh! In a New York minute. I'm essentially retired now. I'm in Seattle, where I've lived for many, many years. I have worked in the theatre here a lot. I guess the pandemic sort of ended that, for me. I'm kind of aged out, I guess. It's fine by me. I've worked a lot. I'm happy to just sit back.
ET: So, this is the classic fan question -- Team Dean, Team Jess, or Team Logan?
MW: See, I would judge all that by how well I knew the guys. I got to be friendly with Matt Czuchry (Logan) and Milo [Ventimiglia] (Jess). You know, not really close, but they were both very nice to me. And I liked them both, so I wouldn't be able to choose. Jared [Padalecki] (Dean), I didn't know very well. I just didn't hang out with him. She couldn't lose to me, although I sort of liked the rebel image of Milo.
ET: Which one would you rather stay at, the Independence Inn or the Dragonfly?
MW: I like The Independence better, I don't know why. It was the one that was there the longest. As I remember, it was right there on the lot. For the Dragonfly we had to go over to another whole site. It was not on the Warner [Bros] lot. It was a couple of miles away... It was just part of the original hominess of the place.
ET: There's a big debate in the Gilmore Girls fandom about the journey of Rory Gilmore. She starts off as a do-good book worm, takes a turn when she sleeps with a married man, and then drops out of Yale. Do you think her journey was realistic?
MW: It makes sense to me, as much as I thought about it. Why not? And they were trying to make her contemporary and there you have one reason why people maybe still like it so much. As much fantasy as it is, there's the reality underneath that and the personalities. So yeah, I thought what she did and where she went made sense to me. It was recognizable.
ET: Taylor was obviously very involved with local politics. What do you think he would make of the current political landscape in our country?
MW: Boy, that's a good question. He seems such a conservative guy. And he may have been the kind who would make it personal and dodge all the big political questions to just what we want to do for our town, right here. What's the best for us? Don't worry about the rest of the world, we'll deal with what's happening here to try to keep it local. But he's got to have a pretty conservative turn of mind.
ET: What do you think Taylor's binge watching these days?
MW: You know, I don't know.
ET: My guess was Yellowstone.
MW: [Laughs] You know, I've never seen it, but I have an idea of what it is. I don't think he's a Breaking Bad guy or anything like that. Maybe he likes home and garden, cooking shows? Homebody stuff. I don't think, going back to your political question, I don't think he watches Fox News or MSNBC or anything like that. I don't think he's into that. He's a very localized guy.
ET: There's another famous Taylor -- Taylor Swift -- who has a hit song "Cardigan." But I would argue that Taylor Doose is the original cardigan wearer.
MW: And plaid, lots and lots of plaid. I loved the clothes they gave me. It was fun. It was nice not to have to pick my own clothes. I guess that's true, yeah, because cardigans weren't my thing. I used to have a cardigan I would wear when I was doing an audition for a grandpa or something. I used to call it my 'grandpa sweater,' which I guess is what Taylor was.
ET: What would make for the perfect Taylor Doose cardigan?
MW: Hmm, not too showy, simple. Maybe those buttons that are leather, leather buttons. A little flash that way. But neat, very neat, structured, acceptable.
ET: There were several guest stars, like Adam Brody (Dave Rygalski) and Jon Hamm (Peyton Sanders), and even regulars like Melissa McCarthy (Sookie St. James) who went on to have great success and stardom.
ET: Yeah. Was there anyone who particularly surprised you with how their career skyrocketed after the show?
MW: No, Melissa was the great one because she went the farthest. She's still a big, big star, bigger than most of them. No, I can't say so. They hired really very good people. I guess what maybe surprised me was that there maybe weren't more of those people who went on, especially the young people because that was pitched for a young audience. So a lot of those people were really attractive, really charismatic. So I can't say it surprised me. I'm surprised there weren't more.
ET: Fans of the show were devastated when Ed Hermann (Richard Gilmore) passed away in 2014. They covered that loss a bit on the revival. I know Taylor didn't have many scenes with him, but do you have any favorite memories of working with Ed?
MW: I almost never dealt with him directly. I had a Thanksgiving dinner at their home where I sat near him and we chatted. That's the closest I ever got to him. I did things more with [Kelly Bishop, who played Emily Gilmore]. I'll tell you the thing about him, just a great old school, solid guy. But I loved what they did, you said they made references to it in the reboot. But I thought that was brilliant. They had that portrait that was too big, that she had given them the wrong dimensions. There was this wall-sized picture of him and every time they went to her house, there he was, bigger than life. And I thought that was a huge, great, sweet warm tribute to him. That he was just always there. He seemed to be a great guy. He certainly did wonderful work.
ET: Over the years have you ever had any bizarre or surprising fan interactions?
MW: Mostly they're just sweet and sort of nostalgic. It was largely people who were girls when they saw it and even now. I said, 'How could you possibly know this? You're way too young.' Well, of course everybody watches it, they have the tapes or they see the reruns on UPtv or wherever. It's sweet and warm memories, a nostalgia of a happy time. They would connect with their mothers through it. That was a major thing. And, of course, I met mothers who felt the same. There was somebody who said, 'I have a boyfriend in Afghanistan and he lives for Gilmore Girls.' He was one of the few men that I met, anyway, that was a real hardcore fan. And they would send him tapes of it every week when it was on. I thought that was, that was kind of great. And I'd bet any money that has to do with hometown and the folks back home and all that stuff and familiarity and safety too.
The GilMORE the Merrier binge-a-thon is kicking off on Monday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. ET on UPtv and will run through Sunday, Nov. 27 at 3 a.m. ET.