Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter Talk ‘Parenthood’

Jason Ritter and Lauren Graham have eyes for each other on "Parenthood" (Trae Patton/NBC)
Jason Ritter and Lauren Graham have eyes for each other on "Parenthood" (Trae Patton/NBC)

Fans of NBC's ensemble drama "Parenthood" have watched the romance heat up between Sarah Braverman (played by "Gilmore Girls" alum Lauren Graham) and her much younger boyfriend, Mark Cyr (played by Jason Ritter, "Joan of Arcadia"), this season. And despite the fact that the series has more than a dozen main cast members, the duo's plotline has come front and center now that Sarah's addict of an ex-husband, Seth (John Corbett), is apparently out of the picture.

Lauren and Jason talked to Yahoo! TV about the show's third-season "snowball effect," the fun of being part of such a big cast, and whether they've ever done the May-December thing themselves (separately, of course).

How does this season compare with previous ones?
Lauren Graham: I think it's juicier. I think the third season is kind of a cool time, because, remember, we didn't have a full first season, so it's just sort of getting into some of these characters' complexity, so I like it.

Jason, you came in at the end of the first season. Did it feel weird to join after the show had already gotten started?
Jason Ritter: Well, yeah, it was terrifying.
LG: It was?
JR: Oh, yeah.
LG: Really?
JR: Yeah, because there's a part of you that just feels like somehow you fooled everybody, and you're going to get on-set and they're going to go, "Well, who let this kid in here?" But it was immediately such a wonderful experience. I mean, I felt so welcomed and so put at ease by Lauren.
LG: By who?
JR: By you.
LG: As far as I'm concerned, you're a series regular, and you always have been, even when you went to go save the world, whatever that was all about. You're part of this. Jason's part of this family forever.

Did you know your role would last this long?
JR: I think initially it was supposed to just be three episodes. And then they put me in the season finale of the first season, and that was exciting. And then I started to do "The Event." But even during "The Event," they brought me back for an episode in the second season, which was very nice.
LG: But it definitely was not intended to go on this long, and it happened because Jason is so charming and delightful.

[Check Out Photos of the 'Parenthood' Cast]

Lauren, you were best known for your role on "Gilmore Girls," which lasted seven seasons. Are you now becoming more recognized for your "Parenthood" role and getting a whole new crop of fans?
LG: It's a somewhat similar experience in that I feel like the fans of this show are really very intense fans, which is how it felt on "Gilmore Girls." I think that character, Lorelai, was kind of a larger-than-life character in the way the language of that show kind of had its own sound. It was such a big character. Sarah's more sort of real. And it's been interesting on this show; it feels the same. It's sort of a rolling snowball, if you will, and it still seems like some people are just joining, just [starting to watch] the show. So that's nice. You'd rather have the momentum going that way than the other way, which is not a snowball.

How do you like being part of an ensemble cast now, as compared with the smaller cast of "Gilmore Girls"?
LG: It's more social. On "Gilmore Girls," you were working 14, 15 hours a day, and it tended to be with one or two [actors]. It was me and Alexis [Bledel] together a lot. Also the way we shoot this show is so kind of open and fluid, and it's almost theatrical sometimes when we have all the cast. There are three cameras going. They let us sort of improvise, and they follow us, in a way. It's much less traditional than how we shot "Gilmore Girls." It can be more messy, which I think is right for the sound of like a family show.

On the show, Sarah is dating Mark, who is much younger. In real life, have either of you dated much older or younger?
JR: I've been attracted. I've never had the --
LG: Guts?
JR: Confidence or the guts to imagine that something could happen, but, yeah, certainly.
LG: I've only ever dated somebody a couple of years older or younger, but we talk about this all the time. There are certain things that would be an issue and certain things that really aren't. And I think that's how it is with Mark and Sarah. If you love someone, that's the only connection you need. And then there's always going to be some compromise or some issue. So I don't think it's been a problem for them yet.
JR: Yeah. They've been able to figure everything out, just like any couple would, if you have an obstacle.
LG: Just like any pretend TV couple would figure their pretend problems out.

Get a sneak peek at this week's all-new "Parenthood" right here:

"Parenthood" airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on NBC.

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