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Friday Night Lights Cameos

Published October 2, 2006 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of ABC.
Kyle Chandler Kyle Chandler in Friday Night Lights
Football fans may recognize a cameo in the first episode of Friday Night Lights, premiering Tuesday on NBC. University of Texas football coach Mack Brown plays a parent harassing coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler). It’s the ultimate inside joke for those in the know, but it was also a valuable research tool for Chandler.

Kyle Chandler Talks Friday Night Lights Cameos


“What was so great about it is here you’ve got this fella and he starts just going in on me and he just starts sharing experiences over his career,” said Chandler. “Every five seconds, he’s presenting a picture of another experience. ‘We haven’t seen the lights on on the field house out there, coach. You’re working on it. Aren’t you working on…’ and it was just great because he just threw this litany of experience that explain so much about being a football coach just right there. But yet he was very gracious and we talked for a little while. He was more than open sharing experiences.”

Since southern football fans will surely scrutinize all of the shows details, it’s good for Chandler to know these little things. “People check and make sure that the field house lights are on, you’re out there working. And he questioned me about what are you going to do the night before the game? You’ve never been a coach the night before the game. Just all the pressures. It’s also on the set, the relationship between he and his wife. It’s a very protective relationship, very close relationship, very sweet people but it wasn’t lost as you’re watching how they interact together. They’ve been through a lot together. From what I’ve talked to the football coaches, when football season starts, a marriage is somewhat put on hold or at least it’s dressed up in a different bed of rules. It’s very interesting and Connie [Britton] and I love playing that because it gives us a chance to be so many different characters within the show. We’re parents, we’re also married to my job, we’re now married to her job, we’re married to the school.”



Executive Producer Peter Berg was happy to get Brown, but says not to expect such a star cameo every week. “The Mack Brown cameo was something that worked I think for us because of A, it was a fascinating way to use Mack Brown as a booster, as an overzealous parent,” said Berg. “It felt really interesting and it felt like there was something really kind of creatively positive behind it. In other words, it didn’t feel like a cameo just for a cameo’s sake. And I don't think that you’ll see us doing that on a daily basis. It can be distracting. And I think at the end of the day, almost silly. But when you get an opportunity to get someone like coach Brown in fresh off the Rose Bowl victory, playing that kind of a character, that was too good to pass up. But we’re not actively out soliciting NFL players and coaches to do cameos just for the sake of having them in the show.”

So aspiring actors take note: if you want to be on Friday Night Lights, it has to have some cool twist like Mack Brown. “When we approached Coach Brown, everybody was just absolutely buzzing. It was about I don't know, a week after the Rose Bowl victory. The idea of having Coach Brown come in and be able to unload on a coach the way he’d been unloaded on his entire career was a joy to watch. It was something that really ended up serving the show well. Those kinds of cameos we’ll do as much as possible but we’ve already been approached by a lot of different players in the NFL and just to have familiar faces isn’t something that we’re about at this point.”

Friday Night Lights airs Tuesdays at 8PM on NBC.

Stay tuned for updates.


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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of ABC.
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