‘Friday Night Lights‘ tackles new territory – literally – in its fourth season, which premieres on NBC (the season originally premiered on DirecTV’s 101 Network last October) Friday at 10/9c. After all, Eric Taylor (played by Kyle Chandler) is now coaching football at East Dillon, the ragtag “new” high school born of last year’s controversial redistricting. Meanwhile, his wife Tami (Connie Britton) is still the principal at West Dillon, leaving their daughter Julie torn over where to call “home.”
Here, Britton shares a look at the new ‘FNL’ dynamic, teases a stolen kiss, and reveals who is likely to be blubbering when the acclaimed series calls its final play. (Read Fancast.com’s in-depth review of the premiere here.)
I’ve got to say, East Dillon High looks like a bit of a pit.
I know, right?! Isn’t that funny-slash-awful?!
I imagine it’s all simply “expensive CGI.” The place you film is probably very lovely.
[Laughs] No, it’s pretty run down. But the truth of the matter is they turned one section of our [West Dillon football] field into East Dillon’s, with its own field house and everything. It’s cool.
It should be noted that East Dillon’s colors match your hair.
Hey, I like the way you think! It’s funny because Kyle has been like, “Hmm, I don’t look good in red. I wish I had been consulted.” He would have been happier with more of a magenta.
In the premiere, Tami is asked to do the coin-toss at West Dillon’s first game, while Eric is coaching East Dillon’s opener across town. Way for the boosters to dig the knife deeper.
Yeah. I love-slash-hate that dynamic with those guys. It’s fun to play because they are just so evil, but in such a good way.
The end of the premiere seems to “reset” the show and several characters.
That’s actually a really good way to put it. They used the first two episodes to lay the groundwork for what the next two seasons are going to be. There’s a lot to do – we have new characters to meet and we’ve got to not only say goodbye to old characters but also get used to them not being there. But in typical ‘Friday Night Lights’ fashion, it’s done in a subtle way, in a Dillon kind of away.
The show is so good at introducing new people. I’m already invested in the kid being played by Michael B. Jordan (‘The Wire’).
Yeah, he’s great – and that’s a character we haven’t seen yet on our show. That’s what I love about ‘FNL’ – its such a slice of life.
You really love this show. I hear it in your voice.
I do. I do. We’re pretty passionate about it and proud of it. It’s not that often that you get to work on something where you genuinely feel, “Hey, this is pretty good.”
Who are Tami’s allies at West Dillon now? I fear she’s a bit alone and defenseless.
I have to say that’s the one thing I’ve noticed this season. With the writers I’m like, “Dude, you left me hanging over there!” But we get some visits from Glenn, [the guidance counselor] who sort of helped out when Tami was having the baby. Steven Walters is a great actor – and he’s really funny.
Any curve balls ahead for the Taylors’ marriage?
I would say the biggest tension comes from us being at different schools, and we’re both under so much pressure. I will also tell you that Tami gets kissed. She doesn’t like it. But she gets kissed.
Taking inventory of the kiddies now: I imagine you’re going to have a sad sendoff for Zach Gilford’s Matt?
We are indeed. Another one flies the coop.
Minka Kelly is coming back for a few episodes?
Yeah, she comes back, which gives a sense of closure to that relationship [between Lyla and Riggins].
And what about Adrienne Palicki (Tyra)?
She’s coming back to do a brief thing on an episode this season, but I don’t think that’s the last we’ll see of her either. She does [have movie conflicts], but there’s always Season 5!
Is everyone getting wistful about these being the final two seasons?
Yeah…. It’s strange to think about. Kyle of all people is like, “Oh, I’m going to blubber like a baby when this thing is over.” And he will for sure, I can guarantee it.