Graham talks about her bond with costars Melissa McCarthy and Alexis Bledel
Credit: Lauren Graham

Stars Hollow may be the end of the line for Lauren Graham.

The Gilmore Girls actress opened up to PEOPLE on Thursday after announcing the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards nominations alongside black-ish nominee Anthony Anderson about the feelings she had returning to the beloved series after nearly 10 years.

“I relished it, and I’m ruined for life because there’s no more perfect fit I feel like for me than that writing and that show,” she said. “I’m so glad I got to do it again. I just can’t even explain it. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.”

Even though her TV daughter Alexis Bledel, 34, is a real-life mom now, Graham said she hasn’t experienced a faux-grandma moment.

“Just like the show, our dynamic has always been more like friends than mother and daughter,” said the actress, 49. “We are closer in age than, like, the kids who played my kids on Parenthood!”

“I have so much respect for her as an actor and a person and a mom,” added Graham. “And similar to the old show, we didn’t see a lot of baby around because we had long scenes to do. So I was just proud of how she kind of has handled her personal life. She’s very private. We were both kind of in different places then, and we’re both more settled down now. So that was kind of cool, to reconnect.”

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The actress was also pleased that the reunion was able to include her once and future costar Melissa McCarthy, 45, after it initially appeared the Ghostbusters star might not be participating in the reunion special.

“Honestly, there were so many things, from other friends and family I wanted and hoped to be part of the show in some way, and that was the biggest piece,” revealed Graham. “Had that not happened, I wouldn’t have felt as gratified as I do.”

“To the outside world it’s like, ‘Why didn’t that happen sooner?'” she admitted. “It’s just not a linear process. I was still up in the air until, like, three days before we started. So it was somewhat chaotic. And the scenes she did are so fantastic. The fact that that came through was the icing on the cake!”

“I feel the excitement,” Graham said of the building fan enthusiasm for the return of Lorelei and Rory Gilmore. “I felt it while we were shooting. I’ve never had an experience has wonderful and intense. It was like getting to do college all over again, or something, when you really know what it has to offer.”

She immediately recognized exactly why she’d missed her signature role, even after moving on to six seasons of Parenthood, another series deeply beloved by its fan base.

“Just the wit – there’s a theatrical quality to the show and to [creator] Amy [Sherman-Palladino’s] writing,” she explained. “I’m a verbal actor and person. Those long scenes and long speeches, that kind of banter – I was born in the wrong era. I would have liked to have been in His Girl Friday and stuff. So this is as close as I’m going to get, and it’s just so gratifying. Especially after what an enriching experience Parenthood was, but so different – more behavior and emotion and less language-based.”

“To return to this,” Graham said of the Gilmore Girls revival. “I was ready.”

The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is set to land on Netflix later this year.