Before he starred on “One Tree Hill” and in films like “A Cinderella Story” and "Freaky Friday," Chad Michael Murray played Chilton bad boy Tristan Dugray on “Gilmore Girls.”
“I believe that was my first recurring role on television,” he recalled to TODAY. “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.”
“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 added.
Murray said he always envisioned Tristan, Rory’s classmate at the elite Chilton prep school, as “the kind of guy that you know you shouldn't be around, but you kind of want to be.”
Despite some of Tristan’s bad behavior, including mockingly calling Rory (Alexis Bledel) “Mary,” Murray said he’s mostly gotten positive feedback from “Gilmore” fans.
“One response I always get about Tristan is how much they love him,” he said. “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?”
Murray said he loved working with Bledel during his time on the show, which included 11 episodes in 2000 and 2001.
“She just was so committed to Rory,” he said. “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.”
He counts scenes with Jared Padalecki, who played Rory’s boyfriend Dean Forester, as his favorite part about playing 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.”
Murray said “Gilmore Girls” has such a devoted fan base 20 years later, because it’s “relatable.”
“There's so many characters that we can all identify with, right? And at the center 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?”
Most recently, Murray can be seen co-starring with Aly Michalka in Hallmark Channel’s “Sand Dollar Cove.” Michalka plays a real estate developer who travels to a quaint seaside town in Connecticut to persuade Murray’s character to sell his beachfront property.
“I love working with Hallmark,” he said. “I've been really blessed to be working with them as partners on a multitude of different projects over the last few years. And, you know, being a father, having kids, I really believe so much in creating good, wholesome content, you know, in a world where there's so much gratuitous things on television and violence, etc, etc, etc, which has its place in time. But this does very much so too, and I think we need more of it.”