‘Friday Night Lights’ Reunion at ATX Festival: Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler and the Cast Talk Memories and a Movie
While fans’ eyes may not have been clear during the Friday Night Lights cast reunion on Saturday at the ATX Television Festival, their hearts were most certainly full as soon as they realized their favorite cast members, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, aka Coach and Mrs. Coach, were in the building.
The core couple at the epicenter of Dillon, Texas, joined cast members Scott Porter (Jason Street), Matt Lauria (Luke Cafferty), Gaius Charles (Brian “Smash” Williams), Brad Leland (Buddy Garrity) and Louanne Stephens (Grandma Saracen) on stage to dish on memories and provide some insight on one of the most beloved shows. Moderated by writer/producer David Hudgins, time was spent on each of the attending cast members as fans were treated to some tear-jerking and hilarious scene from the show’s five seasons.
Here are some things we learned about the show as well as our favorite moments from Saturday’s panel:
The Taylors were a perfect match from the start. After watch a few scenes highlighting the fictional couple’s amazing marriage, Chandler and Britton both spoke extensively about the couple’s enviable chemistry.
“I think it was within the first five minutes – you know sometimes you meet someone and it’s like ‘Oh, OK we’re in good shape here,” Chandler told the audience of their onscreen marriage. “The greatest thing between Connie and I, I think we both agree, is that when we’re working together we’re both fools, we like to play the fool but no matter what we always let the other person … fall as far as you want to. You always felt safe making the biggest fool you could of yourself.”
Britton added, “Right from the beginning, I think we both felt like we could trust each other, which was crazy but we did. I think the other thing that felt really important from the beginning was that we shared the same values about what we wanted that marriage to be, which we shared with the writers. We really wanted that marriage to be about two people who were committed to being married to each other, through thick and through thin, as opposed to having affairs and all those dramatic things that happen on other TV shows.”
Lauria made a fool of himself on his first day. Speaking about the scene in which Britton’s character tells Lauria’s Cafferty that he is going to have to go to East Dillon, Lauris told that audience he ended up face planting after having to run in football gear for the first time.
“They rushed me down there and I’m still trying to put bits and pieces [of football gear] on,” explained Lauria. “So the stunt coordinator put me into this little sequence we had to do and was like ‘So, can you run through these guys and run at the end zone?’ and I’m like ‘Dude, I’m a sprinter. I used to do track’ and so he’s like ‘Run Fast’ and I’m like ‘Do you want me to run fast? Like run fast, fast? Because I’m really fast.’ And I’m on the field with all these guys and they’re real football players, So I booked it and I’ve never run on AstroTurf before or on cleats like that and so I tripped and face planted right in front of everybody. They rushed me to set and I face planted so that’s probably why I was crying [in that scene].”
Porter broke a camera operator’s foot when filming the epic scene where he punches Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) for sleeping with Lyla (Minka Kelly). For those unfamiliar with the show, Porter played Jason Street who was paralyzed by a career ending hit in the pilot episode of the series. Speaking of the camera operators, he explained, “the way that they had to shoot, we called them snipers because they would be everywhere.” So when he was told by the episode’s director to throw a bench during this scene, he did, and boom, the bench landed on her foot. “She finished shooting the scene and she’s the one that got that end shot where Jason is just crumpling into himself,” he revealed. “She has a broken foot, and she’s just shooting it.”
Thanks to show creator Pete Berg, one of Porter’s most emotional lines in the pilot was ad-libbed. Before shooting, Porter revealed, “Pete took me out to dinner and said, ‘Look I need everything I saw from you when we were just shooting the sh– after you tested. I need that. So I want you to just say what’s on your mind at all times in the pilot and let’s see where it goes.’ And I was laying on the field and the entire stands were full and the entire cast was there and the EMTs come out and go to put me on a stretcher and I said, ‘Thank you’ to the EMTs and it wasn’t scripted.”
“Pete came over to me, and he’s just so intense, and he goes, ‘Thank you!! F—- yeah!’ And that’s it,” he continued. “That’s the moment that every time I see it, I get so emotional, but I smile because that was the beginning of this amazing road for me because had Pete and I not had that talk, I never would’ve done that.”
Chandler cooked breakfast for the crew. One scene in Season 5 featured an unscripted moment with Coach cooking bacon in his office and Hudgins wanted to know why. “It started out with the kitchen scenes in the Taylor house, I would cook breakfast for the crew. We’d get there early, wouldn’t have anything to do, so I’d start cooking packs of bacon and I made toast and I put cheese on it and I was handing bacon sandwiches to everyone,” Chandler explained. “[The director] got use to having breakfast and he wanted bacon in the scene and I thought that was great, so we just put a hot plate in the middle of the scene — it had a ‘Sopranos’ feel.” Hudgins added, “I can tell you, back in LA, we were like, ‘What does this mean? Is Kyle unhappy?'”
Britton laughed while adding, “we called it trust but y’all back in LA just called it ‘what are they doing?’”
Could there be a movie? Of course no panel on Friday Night Lights would be complete without touching upon the frequently mentioned possibility of a movie. And while Hudgins revealed Berg is passionate about the possibility, there are currently no plans in the works. Though he added, “never say never and it sure is fun to get back together with all these people.”