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'Gilmore Girls'' Bledel graduates to film

Happy Gilmore

When fame gets stressful, "I do my laundry," says Bledel (in L.A.). "It makes me relax."

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(PEOPLE) -- Alexis Bledel isn't afraid to speak her mind.

On the set of her debut film, Disney's "Tuck Everlasting," costars Ben Kingsley and Sissy Spacek would make a suggestion, and "before I could even get a word out, Alexis would jump in and say, 'I disagree with that!' " says Tuck director Jay Russell. "It wasn't nervy, it was just honesty." And, in hindsight, a bit embarrassing, says Bledel, 21. "After we wrapped the film, I rented 'Gandhi,' 'Carrie' and 'Coal Miner's Daughter.' Suddenly I felt like a big dork."

Fortunately, Bledel's easy confidence plays well on her day job: as Rory, a high school senior more mature than her single mom, on the hit WB drama "Gilmore Girls."

Off-camera she grew up fast too. The daughter of Houston multimedia artists Martin and Nanette, both 53, Bledel (who has a brother, Eric, 16) started modeling at 14. Four years later, while studying film at New York University, she landed the part of Rory -- when her only acting experience was community theater at the age of 8.

Now living in L.A., Bledel has picked up acting on the fly. "She's a quick study," says "Gilmore" costar Lauren Graham. "Incredibly sensitive and intuitive."

Domestically, though, she's a work in progress. Long days on the "Gilmore" set, she says, leave her too busy to tend to a boyfriend -- or much of anything else. "First I have to learn how to take care of plants," says Bledel. "If the ficus thrives, the next step would be a kitten."


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