26 Things You Never Knew About ‘Friday Night Lights’
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Friday Night Lights is finally on Netflix which means it's the perfect time to revisit our favorite football town as they fight their way to a title. But there are a bunch of behind-the-scenes moments that would surprise even the biggest FNL superfans as they rewatch the series. Think you know everything that went down during filming? Or just looking for some brand new info that could change the series as you know it?
Here are some fun trivia facts about Friday Night Lights:
1. Before Coach Taylor, there was Ben Affleck. In 1993, NBC premiered a new drama called Against the Grain, based on Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, published three years prior. The show starred 21-year-old Ben and Robyn Lively (Blake’s sister). Earlier this year, Robyn posted an epic throwback featuring Ben, his puffy hair, and the show that only ran for eight episodes.
2. Lindsay Lohan almost joined the cast. In an alternative universe, we would've seen the Freaky Friday star play Tyra Collette. Instead, she decided to pass to focus on her film career.
3. Taylor Kitsch was not sober during his audition for Tim Riggins. Scott Porter (Jason Street) described Taylor’s audition tape perfectly in 2013: “The camera turns on and you just see a leg. Then you see Kitsch sit back in a chair and he just looks into the camera. There’s a tall-boy next to him and he reaches down, grabs it, puts it on one leg, cracks it open with one hand, drinks the whole tall-boy, puts it down, grabs the second one, cracks it open with one hand and goes [in Canadian accent] ‘This is Taylor Kitsch, reading for Riggins.’ And then he begins the scene by the pool where he says ‘Texas forever’ for the first time.” Chills.
Taylor also had a pretty good account of his audition tape: "I brought in a cooler, put a big, black blanket behind me, and my agent filmed it. I found this Texas beer — Lone Star beer — and I was chugging those, just in my introduction."
4. Minka Kelly originally read for the role of Tyra Collette. But producers told her she was better as a sweet girl. (Sorry, Tyra). Minka was also told to read her lines as if she was on heroin. After her repackaged performance, Peter Berg told her, “No, no, that’s coke.”
5. Jason Street is based on David Edwards, an Austin-born high school football player who was paralyzed from the neck down after an injury in 2003. David died three days shy of his 21st birthday in 2008 following complications related to pneumonia. Scott Porter never got to meet him in person but met his father. “David was just a light,” Scott told Vanity Fair in 2009. “It was heartbreaking when we lost him.”
6. Kyle Chandler’s real-life hangover gave him Coach Taylor’s job. As Peter Berg recalled in a 2011 roundtable with Grantland, “He rode up on a motorcycle. He’d been drinking for two days with his buddies. He had a beard and bags under his eyes. He was clearly hung-over as shit. I was really surprised, because I remembered him as this fresh-faced, boyish, charming young man. And here he was looking like one of the Baldwin brothers after a hard weekend … He looked like a mess, and I just said, ‘You look like a Texas high school football coach!’”
7. Connie Britton, who also had a role in the 2004 Friday Night Lights movie, took the job of Tami Taylor based on one major condition. According to Berg in the 2011 Grantland roundtable, Connie told producers she wasn’t going to spend “10 years sitting on a hard-wood bleacher getting splinters in my ass and cheering on Kyle Chandler.” They promised her a character with “dimension” and “a real voice.” They delivered.
8. To bond, the would-be Tami and Eric Taylor drove together from L.A. to Austin, where the show was filmed. Again, from Berg’s 2011 Grantland roundtable: “I said it was a horrible idea for multiple reasons. They ignored me. Connie dismissively told me she knew what she was doing and she didn’t need my advice. I was convinced they would be having some torrid affair by the time they reached Santa Fe and Kyle’s marriage would be over by the time they got to Austin. I was wrong about that, thank God.”
9. Nearly every scene was shot in a real location and not a set. Which means you can go to the real-life sites that once hosted Riggins Rigs, The Landing Strip, and The Alamo Freeze. Bonus fun fact: The Alamo Freeze is actually Dairy Queen.
10. Not everyone was happy with filming the show in town. One player of the IRL Pflugerville team noted that the show's filming was a "huge distraction" and caused a senior pep rally to be canceled. Yeah, I would be kind of mad too, to be honest.
11. The natural FNL look you love so much happened because rehearsals did not exist in Dillon. As co-executive producer Jeffrey Reiner told The Chicago Tribune in 2007, “There’s nothing technical about our approach…In a regular TV show, actors have to hit their marks, and they rehearse, and they have to wait for the lighting. With our show, before you know it, we’re shooting. There’s no rehearsal. There are no marks. We have very minimal lighting…I’ll say, ‘I want a camera here and a camera here. The third camera—you surprise me.'"
12. Coach Taylor was super sick during his famous locker room speech at the season one State championships. As Connie Britton recalled at an ATX gathering in 2013, her on-screen better half had strep throat. “He was hallucinating and he was a big baby.” Says Kyle Chandler, “I had a cold that day, and I started feeling very strange, and by the time we got up there, I was a mess … I don’t remember much of that. I was just a mess.”
13. The Taylors were supposed to have a big season one sex scene. But Kyle Chandler ruined it. “Truthfully Kyle would get really embarrassed whenever we had to do any kissing at all,” Connie Britton said on Watch What Happens Live. “The second episode ever they wrote us a big sex scene that opened the episode and he was so uncomfortable with it and it was so terrible that it was cut out of the show and we never had a sex scene again for the rest of the history of Friday Night Lights.”
14. Landry and Street never spoke to each other in the show’s history. They did share one scene together, when Landry’s band Crucifictorious played a show. But no words were exchanged.
15. Taylor Kitsch came up with Street’s nickname, “Six.” According to Scott Porter, the name wasn’t on the script. “That was Kitsch. When he walked into the hospital room in season one and finally come to see me for the first time? Instead of saying what was on the page, he said ‘Six’ and it stuck.’”
16. Kyle Chandler worked as a local volunteer firefighter during filming. He never talked about it on set, but he did find time to film a commercial asking for more volunteers.
17. Tim and Billy’s house was gross AF. According to Taylor Kitsch in the Grantland roundtable, “It reeked. There was mold. The pool was filled with sludge.” One person even got sick and a doctor was called. “He was like, ‘You guys shouldn’t be shooting in this house.’”
18. The scene where Riggins and Street say good-bye in New York took 25 minutes to shoot because both actors were crying the whole time. I mean, I would take forever as well if it meant spending more time shooting with these guys.
19. The Panthers and Lions shared the same physical building. That building was Del Valle field, right next to the Austin airport. The show painted one side red and one side blue to reflect team colors, according to AV Club. To make the Lions’ home field, a nearby baseball field was converted to a football variety and a gym was constructed to hide the Panthers’ bleachers.
20. Michael B. Jordan did his own Vince Howard stunts. “To be Vince in that moment was something that I’ll never forget,” he told The Hollywood Reporter of the gigantic State game in the series finale. “That day we had a record number of extras for the show on the set and it was packed. I will never forget that moment … I felt like I was a gladiator in the Coliseum.”
21. But Taylor Kitsch was the most athletic of them all. No real surprise here, but according to Taylor, it’s probably because of his 20-year hockey career in Canada. “It’s Riggs. That’s a piece of his character,” he said in the Grantland roundtable. “And I’m a physical cat, anyway. Maybe you get a bit carried away, but that’s what it’s about, you know?”
22. Gracie Belle, who has, like, two lines, is actually played by triplets. Their names are Cailin, Madeline, and Jocelyn. Adorable.
23. Mindy’s pregnancy freakout was written by Kyle Chandler, who experienced something similar with his wife. According to Stacey Oristano, who plays Mindy, Kyle’s real-life interaction took place in his garage.
24. Tami and Eric Taylor were always meant to leave Dillon. Showrunner Jason Katims said he always envisioned the Taylors driving a car and leaving town. Of course, that shot never happened, but the flash-forward to Eric coaching in Philly and walking off the field with Tami was just as lovely.
25. A lot of the cast members worked together long after the show ended. If you're a huge TV fan, you might have seen the show's actors interact with each other on other series like Parenthood.
26. The show also shares the same universe as other NBC shows. Speaking of Parenthood, FNL also takes place in the same universe as the NBC hit About a Boy, which was all produced by Jason Katims. There was even a Parenthood web series featuring Jesse Plemons as Landry and the Crucifictorious
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