Michel From ‘Gilmore Girls’ Talks The Revival And His Character’s Sexuality
Michel Gerard has always been something of a mystery to “Gilmore Girls” fans.
According to actor Yanic Truesdale, that’s all about to change on November 25 in the upcoming Netflix revival, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in The Life.”
Yanic was 30 years old when he first stepped into the role of Michel at the Independence Inn, alongside Lauren Graham and Melissa McCarthy.
Since then, Yanic, now 46, is still busy acting — mostly TV, but some theater — as well as running his own spin studio Spin Énergie, the first of its kind, in Montreal. Even Ariana Grande has spun there.
And of course, this past year he’s been back in Stars Hollow, re-immersing himself of the world “Gilmore Girls” for the upcoming revival.
I got a chance to speak with him last week when he stopped by Elite Daily’s New York office, so I can confirm Yanic is as full of charm as Michel is contempt.
It was a tad disconcerting to see Michel outside of his usual suit and tie (he wore a black sweater under a leather jacket), but other than that, he looks just like the Michel you remember from the pilot.
Seriously, no one in the “Gilmore” cast has aged better than him.
He came by himself, which is rare for even lesser-known celebrities… and indicative of how down-to-earth he is.
And yes, he really does have a French accent, though it’s not identical to Michel’s. Yanic grew up in Montreal and, as he demonstrated for our Facebook Live audience, the French Canadian and the Parisian French accent are quite different.
The biggest takeaway I got from speaking with him, other than that I should really work out more, is fans will learn much more about Michel’s personal life in the revival, potentially including a love interest.
For fans who have long wondered whether Michel was meant to be a subtly gay character, we may finally have some closure. (Though he was careful not to give away spoilers, Yanic assured me Michel’s sexuality will be “addressed.”)
In the spirit of the holidays, we ended our conversation talking about Yanic’s Thanksgiving plans. It turns out he is going to his close friend Melissa McCarthy’s house for some real life Sookie cooking — apparently she really is a fantastic cook.
Also, a note: I was a nervous wreck during this, and did not always ask the most reader-friendly questions. For clarity reasons, I added some notes in italics throughout the interview.
You’re Canadian, which sounds really nice this week.
Yes, it’s lovely! I posted about that this week, actually.
I am referring to the election of Donald Trump here, and Yanic is referring to this Instagram he posted:
Have people been asking you to move in?
Yeah, I have a lot of jokes like that. The problem with this election, not to get too political, but people are like, ‘Oh, can I move to Canada?’ But you’re not going to be protected from a Trump presidency, even in Canada. If he’s so thin-skinned, if he launches a war — a nuclear war — it doesn’t matter where you are on the planet. You’ll be affected. Hopefully that won’t happen. I’m certainly not hopeful, but we’ll see.
And you live in Canada right now?
I live in Canada and I live in LA. I mostly live in LA, I have to say. I have a house and I have a business in Canada, I own a spin studio in Montreal, Spin Energie.
Can you tell me a little more about that?
I can’t even really explain why I opened it because I’ve never wanted to have my own business, that [wasn’t] in the plans for me. But, I love sports and I’ve been a jogger my whole life, and then I injured my knees and I can no longer jog. So I had to find another way to have that intensity and cardio.
I started spinning at SoulCycle in LA and loved it, and was going to go back home [to Montreal] and shoot a series, knowing that we didn’t have at the time, any spinning studios in Montreal, which I thought was insane. And then I thought, ‘Well, someone’s probably going to do it… I should do it!’ Five months later, it was open.
I think we have to get into “Gilmore Girls” now. When did you first hear that the revival was happening?
The first time I heard about it — I think it was leaked in Variety or some magazine that said “Gilmore Girls,” you know…
So you heard about it through the leak?
Well, let me backtrack, that’s not true. Well, it’s true, but we also went to the ATX Festival in Austin two summers ago. Amy and Dan were there. We talked about the show and I walked away feeling they weren’t telling me everything.
There were thousands of people there that flew in from all over the world to come to ATX. I mean, people camped out for a day — it was kind of surreal. I said to them, ‘That’s crazy that we’re not doing anything with that.’ And they said ‘Well…’ You know. And I was just like ‘Oh, I see.’
So when my agent called me and sent me [the leak], I said, ‘Oh! But we’ve seen that for years. It’s going to be a movie, this and that’… but this one seems to be grounded on some truth.
Then I finally got the call, right around Christmas in December, saying that it was happening. And obviously I called Lauren, and then I found out.
Had you been thinking about Michel and where he’s been over the last eight years?
Well, at the ATX Festival, people asked me, ‘Where do you think Michel is?’ I answered a couple of things, one of which actually has happened to him [in the revival].
Was there any conversation with Amy Sherman-Palladino there?
Zero. I don’t know if what I said influenced her or if she was already thinking about that. I have no clue.
You know that saying in Hollywood — ‘The first year the actors work for the writers, the second year it’s a collaboration, and the third year the writers work for the actors?’
I’ve never heard that before. Is that not true on “Gilmore Girls?”
I mean, there’s a point where you play this part, and you’re that person — I’ll give you an example. That scene where Michel danced at the end? That came after a party we had and Amy saw me dancing.
Do you think there’s anything about who Michel has become that might surprise fans?
What will surprise fans is that we haven’t really seen or learned anything about his personal life, really.
Right, I heard we might getting a little of that?
No, we’ll get a lot. He’s at a crossroad in his personal life, he’s at a crossroad with his work, so there’s a lot that is happening for him when we get to see him again.
Any chance of a romantic relationship?
Perhaps! Perhaps, we’ll have to see. But definitely you’ll find out more about him.
Some of Michel’s mannerisms have led fans to speculate about his sexuality. Do you have any comment on that or if it will be addressed more explicitly in the revival?
Right, yes. It will be addressed, it for sure will be addressed, because we’ll find out more about him.
But here’s the thing with French people — have you ever been to Paris?
I have actually, but in a very American tourist-y way.
Ok, well I don’t know if you’ve noticed, or if you have French friends, but the typical French man is definitely more feminine than an American man. There’s a sophistication that comes with the culture, and the language, and the way they talk and dress. I have a lot of girlfriends that say, ‘Sometimes I have a hard time knowing who’s gay and who’s straight.’
So I wouldn’t put Michel in a box because he’s more refined, or this or that. I think that’s looking at a man from an American perspective. I think if you look at a French man, with a French perspective, that no longer applies.
Since there was so little of Michel’s personal life revealed, did you have your own version of who he was when you were on the show?
Yeah, you kind of have to. I can’t elaborate on who I had in my head because who I had in my head kind of crosses over a little bit with what’s happening [in the revival].
The relationship for me as an actor — when you’re playing another character you have to know the nature of their relationships — and for me, the relationship with Lorelai was always like that of a little sister. Love and hate. Like, ‘I know better, I love you, but I’m older.’
Michel has this contempt for everyone and everything around him. Do you relate to that at all?
My in with him is his sarcasm because that’s very much my sense of humor — dryness and sarcasm. And my pleasure with him is my non-filter that he has.
I’m a bit of an impatient person, which I can see now that I own a business and have employees. I want things to be done a little bit my way, and quick. So that’s why if you ever come to our spin studio, you’ll see that the customer service is over-the-top good. I want my employees to treat our clients the way I want to be when I go somewhere, which is: I want service, I don’t want to feel like a number and I want people to talk to me as if I matter.
I can’t imagine you being quite as mean-spirited, though.
No, I’m not mean-spirited at all! He’s very fussy, and I’m not fussy. I’m much more laid back, he’s very uptight. All of that is not me, but the need to have things a certain way, and the sarcasm is my connection with him.
Will Michel ever get another dog?
That’s one of my favorite Michel stories.
That storyline is actually one that I pitched!
What I failed to explain here is that I’m referring to the episode in season seven, “Farewell, My Pet” where one Michel’s two chow puppies, Chin-Chin dies, and they have a little doggy funeral for him. It’s cute and sad.
Really? Where did that idea come from?
I just wanted him to go through something that is happening to him — because he didn’t have much of that. He was so attached to the dogs, and it was such an important trait of the character, that I thought it would be interesting to see him lose one. So I mentioned that to the writers.
Your French accent is iconic on the show. Was that written into the character? Did you work with a dialogue coach at all?
No, I never worked with a coach for that because my first language is French, so it’s very easy for me. However, I had to compromise. Because the first version of the accent was thicker, and Amy was like, ‘I can’t understand you! It’s got to be lighter,’
So I had to compromise on some of the reality of it. Most French people don’t do their “T-H’s” They just don’t know how to make that sound, it’s a sound that we don’t have in the French language. But if you choose that, it already makes certain words hard to understand. So we met in the middle.
Was the character French, or was this written for you because you’re French-Canadian?
The character was always French, and the audition I did with a French accent.
The audition was the first scene in the pilot, where Michel’s on the phone and he says, ‘People are particularly stupid today.’
OK, I think I have to ask you, or my editor might kill me: Do you have a favorite Rory boyfriend?
I wonder why that’s such a big thing! It kind of puzzles me.
My favorite — and maybe it’s because he was a friend, and I know he screwed up in the relationship at some point — but I thought he was the best kid: Dean.
Interesting! I feel like that’s the least popular answer.
I know! But I don’t think the two other ones — Logan was kind of like a spoiled dude, and the other one was just like a bad guy that was not good for her! Dean was a nice kid. He was a nice kid! He screwed up, but aside from his screw-up, he was a good kid. Team Dean.
Anything you want to say to fans looking forward to the revival?
It really feels special to us and to me to have a second chance at a show that meant so much to so many people. That’s really rare. If you look at the history of American television, we’re really in the minority of shows that have done this.
I really feel like we’ve done it in a grand way. I feel like it’s an elevated version of what people loved. It feels like a grown-up version. I’m very proud of the script. There are more layers on it, because we’re all older, and we bring that perspective on our characters and our storylines.
It feels great to have new episodes, and I’m excited that it’s finally coming out now. Now I’m like, ‘OK! Bring it out!’
When did you actually wrap on production?
We wrapped in May. My last day was with Melissa, on May 10 or something.
Had you been staying in touch with Melissa at all?
Well, we’re friends! She’s had an amazing career, obviously, but yes we’re friends. I’m going to her house for Thanksgiving!
Is there anything you can tell us about Melissa McCarthy that the rest of the world doesn’t know?
She’s a phenomenal cook. You know her character is a cook, but she is, too. I’m looking forward to the meal because I know the food is always good at her house. She has this crazy, insane kitchen now — they just moved to a new house.
She’s a great cook, and she’s a fantastic decorator. She could do that for a living! We all started buying homes during ‘Gilmore,’ and she would buy the shittiest home, and we’d be like ‘What are you doing?’ But you’d go back after the renovation, and you’d be like ‘Are you kidding me?’
She has a vision. She’s strangely good at that, as if she studied it. I don’t know where it comes from. She has an amazing taste.
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