The Zach Gilford Interview

Those of us who didn't have the pleasure of watching Friday Night Lights on DirecTV are just now getting to see Zach Gilford's heartbreaking performance as Matt Saracen this season. He's been coping with not going away to college, being stuck in his small town in order to be with his girlfriend and grandma and also having to deal with the loss of his father, but now he's finally left town, leaving a devastated Julie in his wake. We were shaken up, but the news that Gilford (who returns to Dillon at the end of the current season) will also be back for four more episodes during the final season (which just began shooting) has made this a little bit easier to take. We were lucky enough to get him on the phone the other day for a super-quick chat about the show and what it's like to be on a football show and not play football.

TWoP: You've been making me cry a lot lately.
Zach Gilford: I'm sorry!

TWoP: Is it weird having some people just see it now? While others saw it months ago?
Gilford: No. I mean, we filmed it not that much longer ago, so I remember most of it. And I love the show, and I've always had a weird memory for it. But it is kind of funny: [The other] night on set, we were talking about-- we realized we've been doing this show for a long time, now. We've done a lot of episodes and we were like, "Wait a minute! Did Lyla and Jason Street get engaged at one point? I don't know, did he propose? What happened?" and no one could remember if they ever got engaged or not. I remember the scene where they were just talking to Buddy Garrity in the driveway. And I'm like, I don't remember if they ever actually got engaged or not.

TWoP: This season you're not playing football. What was it like to play a character that's just pure emotion and not any of the sports?
Gilford: It was a little bit weird. I mean, it was definitely a transition. The kind of experience that I went through personally this season on the show I think was reflective of what was going on with Matt as a character, because I kind of felt like this satellite story -- it was kind of external. I had one connection to the town, really, which was through Julie, but I wasn't on the team anymore, I had almost nothing with Coach, very little with my buddy Landry because he was busy playing football, and then some stuff with my Grandma. I just kind of felt like I'd show up to work once a week on an episode, do a bunch of stuff with Aimee [Teegarden], and go on my merry way. It felt like it was time for me to move on, and same with Matt. He's just there. He's no longer part of the team or anything -- he's just delivering pizza, and every now and then he runs into someone like J.D. when he's delivering a pizza or whatever, and is like, "What am I doing here? It's time for me to move on and just figure out what the next chapter in my life is."

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