Before Zach Gilford landed the role of the best friend and eventual love interest to Alexis Bledel in Post Grad, he had to prove to the filmmakers that he and his prospective leading lady worked well together on screen.

“I had to go in with Alexis for a ‘chemistry read,’” Gilford remembers. “And I thought she hated me.”

Bledel, small and soft-spoken in person with piercing blue eyes, has to stop the interview right there. She turns to to Gilford. “Why did you think that?” she asks, sounding concerned.
“Because you’re shy,” he says.

Bledel had to shed that shyness for Post Grad, in which she stars as recent college grad Ryden Malby, whose plans are derailed when she doesn’t land her dream job.

Moving back in with her parents, Ryden suffers through a host of indignities in interviews and odd jobs, all the while ignoring the gorgeous guy right in front of her.

“She’s very distracted,” Bledel explains. “I would say damagingly so.”

Playing the lead in a film like this was an opportunity Bledel didn’t want to miss. “It’s rare to read a script with a female protagonist in this age group,” she says.

“A lot of times you have a role that’s secondary to the man’s role. It’s nice when the female character has her own storyline as well.”

Another reason both actors were eager to jump on board was the impressive supporting cast. Rounding out the Malby clan are Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett. Keaton in particular was a standout for the young stars.

“I had such a good time working with him,” Bledel says. “He was ab-libbing so much, I couldn’t keep a straight face. I ruined so many of his great takes by just losing it.”

Gilford could barely concentrate around the veteran actor.

“I felt like a total dork around Michael Keaton. I was totally star-struck,” he admits.

“I’d be having a talk with him about something totally normal, and in the back of my head I’d be like, ‘I’m talking to Batman.’ I wanted to be like, dude, Christian Bale is a chump. You are Batman.’”

Gilford thinks about this for a moment before adding, “Don’t tell Christian Bale I said that.”

Though they couldn’t have possibly seen the recession coming when they made the movie, both stars admit it’s only made Post Grad more timely.

“The timing’s kind of crazy,” Gilford says.

“I mean, it’s always kind of an appropriate thing. That’s what a lot of people go through when they finish school. But now it’s just, like, everybody’s going through that. There’s a lot fewer people that have their path actually set up for them.”

Bledel agrees. “We filmed this before the economic crisis,” she says. “It’s always been difficult to get a job. But now the situation’s much worse.”

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