Lauren Graham is no stranger to working with children in her cult-favorite television series “Gilmore Girls” and “Parenthood” and with animals in the feature “Evan Almighty.”
The part-time New Yorker is working with both in her latest film “Max,” from writer/director Boaz Yakin. She plays the mother of a Marine who works with trained dogs. When her son is killed in action, his dog Max is distressed and incredibly dangerous. Max seems to take well to her other son Justin (Josh Wiggins), but the healing process is difficult for everyone.
amNewYork spoke to Graham about the film, opening Friday.
What drew you to this role?
I liked that it wasn’t something I had done. I tend to play kind of verbal, more flaky people, and she was very different and I found the film moving. And I had seen several of Boaz’s movies. And I just knew it would be, it would have sincerity and wouldn’t feel like a kid’s movie. I thought it had some substance to it.
What was it like working with a dog that has such a major role?
It’s part of the technical challenge. Every project has its own components. And I have done “Evan Almighty” — I’ve worked with animals; I’ve worked with kids. … You have to stay consistent so that whatever take the animal gets right is going to be the one they use. So it becomes, in a weird way, fun. It’s part of the unknown. You’re not sure exactly what’s going to happen and it keeps you on your toes.
Have you considered coming back to Broadway?
Of course. … If I lived here full time, I would work as much as I absolutely could on stage, where I started. … But I have a person I live with, and he has a 13-year-old son. And, so, it just becomes, it’s sort of unrealistic while he’s in school. When I did “Guys and Dolls,” I was single and more mobile. But I think it’s something I’ll do in years to come if I get the chance for sure.
What is it that keeps you here in the Big Apple?
Well my dad grew up in a suburb of New York, and all my cousins were out in the North and South Forks of Long Island. It was just like a big part of my childhood: Coming to the city and going out to Long Island. … I went to Barnard. I started here, and this city was kind of the goal for me. The dream was to live and work in New York, probably based on everything from “Tootsie” to the movies I grew up watching.
Your first book “Someday, Someday, Maybe” was very well-received. Are you working on another?
Yes, I’m working on [a] sort of sequel, but you don’t have to have read the first one. It’s very briefly autobiographical. I’m not masking memoirs or anything. But I definitely was interested in kind of why I got to this certain place — what was I thinking when I started? And how did I possibly imagine that I could ever make it in such a tough business? And those years to me are interesting because it’s a time that people can relate to, where you just have a hope for yourself, or you’re not sure if you can make it happen.