The Stunning Transformation Of Alexis Bledel

Most of us probably know her as Rory Gilmore from "Gilmore Girls." Some of us may also know her as Lena from "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," Beth from "Mad Men," or Emily from "The Handmaid's Tale" (via IMDb). We are, of course, talking about actress Alexis Bledel.

Bledel began her career as the young, adorable Rory in "Gilmore Girls" alongside Lauren Graham. As the fast-talking, whip-smart teen from Stars Hollow, the actress quickly amassed a large following of dedicated fans, and her career took off fast. She starred in the fantasy film "Tuck Everlasting," landed a role in the teen franchise "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," and appeared in numerous other films and TV shows over the years. More recently, she's enjoyed another career-defining role as Ofglen/Emily in "The Handmaid's Tale." In 2017, she even won her first Emmy for her performance.

Despite her meteoric fame, Bledel has managed to keep her personal life very quiet. In fact, in 2016, it was revealed that she and her husband had successfully kept their baby a secret for several months (via Glamour). Curious to find out more about Bledel's journey? Here is the stunning transformation of Alexis Bledel.

Alexis Bledel grew up a shy, normal girl, immersed in her parents' Latin American culture

Alexis Bledel, the daughter of an Argentinian father and Mexican mother, grew up in Houston, Texas. As a child, she was pretty normal. As she told Seventeen, "I was right in the middle of my class."

Perhaps the most exceptional thing about the young Bledel was her cultural upbringing. As she explained in an episode of "Back Home," her Latin American roots were a big part of her childhood. "My parents only spoke to me in Spanish," Bledel said on the show, in perfect Spanish. "When I went to school I had to learn English there ... I really was in a Latino bubble." In addition to speaking Spanish at home, Bledel ate Latin American food, celebrated holidays with Latin American traditions, and listened to Latin American music.

For Bledel, this upbringing left her, as she put it, "in between." "It does leave you searching for an identity, I think, and that's probably why I was attracted to acting, because I could make up my own identity in a character," she explained.

She started acting when she was just 8 years old

As Alexis Bledel explained to the Kitsap Sun, she was 8 years old when she first got on stage. She appeared in productions of "Our Town," "The Wizard of Oz," and "Aladdin." Perhaps because English was her second language, Bledel was quite shy as a child. In fact, she was so shy that her parents suggested she try acting in community plays to help her get out of her shell. "I was super shy — super shy — not like a performer at all," she said on the TV show "Back Home." As Bledel explained, she "had to get over it."

Luckily, her experiences in community theater helped — after she got over her stage fright! "I thought it was utterly terrifying — like, terrifying to go out on the stage," Bledel recalled in an interview. "But then once you start to speak or to dance or to sing or whatever it is you're doing, then it's kind of exhilarating ... or comfortable," she went on. As Bledel added, she grew to love acting, as it let her express herself in ways she couldn't in real life.

Alexis Bledel got her start as a model in high school

As Alexis Bledel told Elle Girl in 2005, she was discovered by a modeling agent at a local mall when she was 14 years old. Even though getting in front of the camera had never been her ambition, she gave it a try. She proved to be very successful as a model. In fact, as she told Seventeen, "I ended up taking senior year off because I traveled a little bit for my modeling career — Seventeen was actually my first job!"

For Bledel, working as a model helped her to continue coming out of her shell. Of course, her modeling career could have had a very different effect. For one thing, as she told Elle Girl, it could have damaged her self-esteem. "When I was modeling as a teenager — which is probably the most sensitive time of a person's life, I just ignored it when people said to lose two inches off my hips," Bledel said. Luckily, Bledel had plenty of job offers and could ignore these requests. It sounds like modeling not only taught her about being comfortable in front of a camera, but also taught her how to stick up for herself.

She went to film school with dreams of working behind the camera

After finishing high school, Alexis Bledel left Texas for New York City, where she enrolled in NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. As she told Cosmopolitan, "I didn't really have a plan." In her final year of school, she decided that she was interested in studying film.

Initially, however, she thought she would be better suited to working behind the camera. As she explained to IGN, "I always thought that I would work behind the camera, because it's a more comfortable place for me to be, really." It sounds like Bledel's childhood shyness was still somewhat influencing her decisions. Plus, she said, "It's just more comfortable, a more relaxed way to work."

Even though Bledel had no plans to become an actress, she began auditioning for TV roles through her modeling agent, simply as a means for making some money (via Elle Girl). And, of course, soon enough, she was back in front of the camera.

Alexis Bledel's life and career changed when she landed her role on Gilmore Girls

Alexis Bledel soon landed her first big role — playing Rory on "Gilmore Girls." She moved to L.A. and quickly shot to fame. As she told Elle Girl, the job certainly wasn't easy at first. "I was completely overwhelmed. ... I was working 18-hour days, and weekends too," she recalled. A lot of the time, she felt unsure about how to even act in certain scenes. Soon enough, however, she hit her stride and learned the ropes.

She also had to deal with the pressures of fame. In an interview with Marie Claire, she admitted that she hadn't been prepared for the show's cult-like success. As she told the Kitsap Sun in 2005, being famous "slightly skews everything a bit." In fact, being famous was so unattractive to Bledel that she even spoke about giving up acting after a few years.

As she later told E! News, while the role brought with it many challenges, it also served as a crash course in TV acting. "It really helped me learn how to memorize dialogue quickly and really comprehensively, which is great for auditioning and any work I get after," she said.

In Tuck Everlasting, Alexis Bledel got her first taste of acting in movies

As Rory Gilmore, Alexis Bledel got to experience being the lead of a successful TV show. In 2002, she got to experience leading a feature film when she played Winnie in "Tuck Everlasting." As Bledel told Crosswalk at the time, the character also presented some new challenges. "I liked playing someone who was rebellious, because I've never gotten to do that before because it was something kind of different," she said. It was also her first period film.

As Bledel told IGN, starring in "Tuck Everlasting" also gave her a chance to see the differences between television and film. Before making the movie, she had assumed that filmmaking was a little easier. She explained, "On 'Tuck' I was able to see up close how much work it really is, and how it basically is a portion of your life that you basically devote to the project and it's sort of all-consuming and I didn't realize that there's no way you can really realize that, until you take a stab at it, you know?"

The actress made friends for life making Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Playing Lena in the hugely successful "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" movies wasn't just a big career move for Alexis Bledel — it also introduced her to some lifelong friends. The films followed four teenage friends who go their separate ways after high school and send each other a pair of jeans to stay in touch with each other. The four young actresses quickly bonded — especially as, by the second movie, each of them had experience starring in their own TV show, as Bledel pointed out in an interview with CNN.

Years later, the four costars have remained in touch. In fact, they seem to have formed a sort of actor support system. As Bledel's costar America Ferrera told "Busy Tonight" in 2019, "We have a text thread. Breaking news! There is a 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' text thread. I go to them for everything" (via UPI). Another costar, Amber Tamblyn, also spoke about their friendship in an interview with MTV. She revealed that the foursome sometimes chat "every single day" (via Access).

Alexis Bledel focused on films after Gilmore Girls

"Gilmore Girls" ended in 2007 after seven seasons. For Alexis Bledel, who had gone from shy and unsure to a confident actress, the ending of "Gilmore Girls" was an opportunity to take stock and plan her next career move.

As she told Entertainment Weekly at the time, she was initially eager to move away from the world of television. "It would have to be at least 10 years before I'd do [a series] again, because it is such an all-consuming experience," she said. Instead, the actress turned her focus to film. She appeared in "The Good Guy," a romantic comedy; "Post Grad," a comedy starring Michael Keaton and Carol Burnett; "The Conspirator," a period film about Abraham Lincoln; and "The Kate Logan Affair," a movie about a police woman who starts an affair with a married man. She also starred in projects like "Girl Walks Into a Bar," a comedy, and "Violet and Daisy," in which she played a teenage assassin alongside Saoirse Ronan. For Bledel, all of these various roles were important. As she later told Collider, after "Gilmore Girls," she "tried to play as many different characters as I could and reach as far as I could, sometimes in strange directions" just so she could move away from Rory. Well, it definitely worked!

She returned to her roots in the play Regrets

Alexis Bledel had never intended to become a film or TV star. In fact, prior to "Gilmore Girls," the only acting she had done had been in community theater productions in her hometown. In 2012, Bledel finally got the chance to return to her roots with a role in the Broadway production of "Regrets." In her Broadway debut, Bledel played Chryssie, a sex worker. As the actress told Theater Mania, it was thrilling to get back on stage — and back to New York City. "It has been a goal for a while. I always wanted to try theater professionally, and then this came about and I couldn't pass it up," she said.

Once Bledel got on stage, she rediscovered her love of acting. As she put it to Interview Magazine, "It feels like being a kid again. I'm happier than I've ever been." She also explained that she hoped to do more theater in the future. We hope she gets another chance soon!

Alexis Bledel met her future husband on the set of Mad Men

In 2012, Alexis played Beth Dawes in "Mad Men." Her character has a brief affair with Pete Campbell, played by Vincent Kartheiser, before Beth decides to return to her husband. It turns out, the pair had real chemistry. In fact, they actually started dating in real life. They first appeared in public later that year (via E! News). By March 2013, they were engaged (via E! News), and by 2014, they had tied the knot (via E! News).

The pair have kept their relationship incredibly private over the years. However, in 2014, Kartheiser gave Vulture a few details. He explained that the pair only started dating a few months after working together. "We were completely professional," he said. "We never saw each other out." Several of their "Mad Men" colleagues, however, saw it coming. As the show's creator Matthew Weiner said, "They're both very down to earth, with a sense of responsibility and strong family ties. And they've been acting since before they can remember, which makes for a very special personality." Sounds like these two really were meant to be.

Becoming a mother changed Alexis Bledel's approach to her work

Alexis Bledel gave birth to her first son with Vincent Kartheiser in 2015. The notoriously private couple kept the baby a secret from the media until Bledel's "Girlmore Girls" costar Scott Patterson let the news slip in an interview with Glamour in 2016. "Now she's a proud new mother and married and happy," he said, adding that his son was about a year and half older than her son. This means Bledel's son was likely born in the fall of 2015.

While she and her husband have kept details of their son's life private, the actress has opened up about how becoming a mother has shifted her perspective on both life and acting. In 2017, she told Entertainment Tonight it had made her more picky about choosing roles. "​​More than anything, I just think about what roles I take on, and make sure that it's really something that I feel passionate about if I'm going to leave home and go work," she explained. It's clear that motherhood has really transformed the way Bledel looks at life — we can't wait to find out a little more about her son in the years to come.

Returning to Gilmore Girls was an important moment for Alexis Bledel

In 2016, Alexis Bledel returned to the role that made her famous in the "Gilmore Girls" revival. She had, of course, changed a lot since the first time around. As her costar Scott Patterson told Glamour, "She's really blossomed as a woman." 

Her feelings towards the show itself had also changed over time. As she told Collider, "Having the time between the end of the series and the beginning of these episodes really gave us a lot of perspective on what this show meant to people and what it means for us, creatively."

Even though she loved coming back to see her old colleagues, there were parts of the experience that she found disappointing. For one thing, Bledel initially struggled to accept her character's cliffhanger ending — spoiler alert: Rory reveals she is pregnant at the very end of the show. "[Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino] knew what reaction she was going to get out of the audience," she told Entertainment Tonight. "She's delighted by throwing everyone a curveball. I knew that's what she wanted and I trusted her."

In The Handmaid's Tale, Alexis Bledel got to explore a much darker character

Alexis Bledel first rose to fame for playing the sparky, endearing Rory in the comedy "Gilmore Girls." While she has branched out into other genres over the years, it's safe to say that her ongoing role in the dystopian drama "The Handmaid's Tale" is one of her biggest departures from her days in Stars Hollow yet. As Ofglen (or Emily), Bledel played a woman resisting an authoritarian regime.

For Bledel, the role brought new challenges and new rewards. "I love the challenge of the role. The physical challenge of shooting in The Colonies just required a commitment to withstanding the elements for a week or so, alongside all the women who were in those scenes," she explained to Deadline.

Bledel ended up winning an Emmy for her performance. As it turns out, she even surprised herself with the role. As she told E! News, "I always wanted to do dramatic work, but I didn't know that [I could], I guess, delve into roles like this one. It's been really fulfilling in a way I didn't know this job could be. It's really been incredible."

We might be seeing more of Alexis Bledel in a third Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie

With "The Handmaid's Tale" coming to an end with the fifth season (via Digital Spy), fans of Alexis Bledel may be wondering — where will we see her next? We already know that she's been pretty picky about her roles since becoming a mother. However, it turns out, there is one project that the actress would always be thrilled to take on.

As she told Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show," she would love to do a third "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" movie. In fact, she and her fellow cast mates even pitched an idea for the movie! "I hope it comes together, it would be so great," she said. There hasn't been any more word on whether the producers accepted the actress' pitch, the film does appear on Bledel's IMDb page. We can only hope that we get to see her come back as Lena soon — it's just the throwback we need!