Skip to main content

Behind The Scenes Of 'Friday Night Lights.'

Peter Berg, executive producer of NBC's Friday Night Lights, talks about the virtues of shooting on location, using local performers, and what the series explores that the movie couldn't.

This interview was originally broadcast on April 11, 2007. Friday Night Lights will end its five-season run on Friday July 15, 2011 on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.

15:24

Other segments from the episode on July 15, 2011

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, July 15, 2011: Interview with Kyle Chandler; Interview with Peter Berg; Interview with Connie Britton; Review of film "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

Transcript

*** TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY BOUNDARY ***
..DATE:
20110715
..PGRM:
Fresh Air
..TIME:
12:00-13:00 PM
..NIEL:
N/A
..NTWK:
NPR
..SGMT:
Kyle Chandler: Playing A Coach On 'Friday Night'

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli of tvworthwatching.com, sitting in for
Terry Gross.

Tonight, NBC presents the final episode of the drama series "Friday Night
Lights." The TV show, based on the book and movie of the same name, about a
high school football coach, his family, his team and his small Texas town. Here
at FRESH AIR, we want to give it a fond farewell.

So today, we'll feature past interviews with Peter Berg, who helped bring the
original book by Buzz Bissinger to the large and small screen, and with Kyle
Chandler and Connie Britton, who star in the TV series as Coach Eric Taylor and
his wife Tami.

Here they are in character, in a quick taste from tonight's series finale. Tami
is doing all the talking, explaining why, as they're once again facing job
offers pulling them in separate directions, this time is different.

(Soundbite of television program, "Friday Night Lights")

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. CONNIE BRITTON (Actor): (As Tami Taylor) My turn, babe. I have loved you,
and you have loved me, and we have compromised, both of us, for your job. And
now it's time to think about doing that for my job because otherwise, what am I
going to tell our daughter?

BIANCULLI: That's Connie Britton with Kyle Chandler, the stars of NBC's "Friday
Night Lights," which ends its five-season run tonight. Some die-hard fans have
seen this finale already. The final two seasons of "Friday Night Lights" were
presented first on the DirecTV satellite network in an arrangement to share
costs and keep the show alive. And for months now, the final season, including
the finale shown tonight on NBC, has been out on DVD.

But on broadcast television, this is the time to say goodbye. As a TV critic, I
never understood why "Friday Night Lights" wasn't a bigger hit. The acting,
especially by the two talented leads, is phenomenally real and touching. And
while there is football action in most episodes, the show really isn't about
sports. It's about people, as they matured and struggled and wavered and
committed and learned or didn't.

There are few enough scripted dramas on TV as it is and fewer still that aren't
crime procedurals. On broadcast TV, the low-key family drama is nearly extinct.
NBC has one other series like it, "Parenthood," and that's about it these days.
But "Friday Night Lights" was rare in terms of quality as well as genre.

In spirit, it earns comparisons to Bruce Paltrow's "The White Shadow," the CBS
drama from the late '70s that starred Ken Howard as the coach of an inner-city
high school basketball team. That show did then what "Friday Night Lights" has
done all along.

Both shows trusted their young actors and rotated them out of the cast as their
characters were due to graduate. They mixed comedy and drama and weren't afraid
of surprises and never underestimated the intelligence of their audiences.

For all that and more, "Friday Night Lights" deserves our thanks and this
salute.

We'll start today's program by listening back to part of my 2008 conversation
with Kyle Chandler. Earlier this week, he was nominated for an Emmy for his
performance as Coach Eric Taylor. Most recently seen as the father in the JJ
Abrams movie "Super 8," Chandler previously starred in such TV series as "Early
Edition" and "Home Front." Yet playing part of one of television's most
credible, loving couples on "Friday Night Lights," opposite Connie Britton,
remains his most recognized role to date.

Mr. KYLE CHANDLER (Actor): (As Eric Taylor) As soon as we met, it was clear
that the casting was perfect. Initially, we - I think we shook hands, said
hello, and within 10 seconds were already starting to barb on each other. We
both have a very similar sense of timing and comedy. And we both love comedy.
And, you know, there's not that much of that in the show, but there's enough of
it to create that relationship.

And it's very similar to a marriage. I've been married 12 years, and that's it.
You know, no matter how angry we get with each other, no matter how hard we
fight, it's okay because we know that we're always going to be together. I
mean, that's the bottom line.

BIANCULLI: I'd like to play a scene that I think exemplifies this and shows
some of the humor. It's from the first season of the show. You had a problem
with an air conditioning unit, and you meet with your wife in a diner, and she
seems to have come up with a solution that you may or may not like.

(Soundbite of television program, "Friday Night Lights")

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) You go first.

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) Okay, you want the good news or the bad news?

Mr. CHANDLER: (As Eric Taylor) No, the good news, always the good news.

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) All right, I'll give you the bad news. The A/C -
done. Like I said, we need a new unit, $3,000 minimum.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) What's the good news, is there a cold
front moving in?

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) No, the good news is that I think I might be able
to help you pay for the new unit because I think I got myself a job.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) Really? That fast, you got a job? Where'd
you get the job?

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) At the school.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) What school?

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) At the high school.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) It - my high school?

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) I wasn't aware that you had bought it, but yeah,
the new guidance counselor at the high school.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) You know that guidance counselors can be a
nuisance, and that means that we're going to have some interaction.

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) Eric - well, good. I like that we're going to
have interaction. It's great that we're going to have some interaction.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) Well, I just think that we should probably
talk about it.

Ms. BRITTON: (As Tami Taylor) Well, I've taken the job already.

(Soundbite of ringing phone)

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) Well, gee, what happened to the
consultation we were going to have? Hello, Coach Taylor.

BIANCULLI: One of the things about the role, one of the directions in which you
go sometimes is you're not afraid to be a jerk, which is very endearing and,
for a TV heroic lead, fairly unusual.

Mr. CHANDLER: No one's perfect. No one's - I'd be lying if I was going to get
onscreen and be this perfect guy. I love falling. I love playing a role where I
think I'm right, and then you learn you're not. And it's what you do with that
information. What you do when you realize you're wrong? How do you say I'm
wrong or I'm sorry or this and that?

And I don't want to make it too easy on him, but it's great to be wrong. It's
great to be a jerk and then realize I was wrong.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CHANDLER: It's real life. I mean, it's just - it's fun. It's a joy to play.

BIANCULLI: For a television star of one of the best shows on TV right now,
you're kind of an enigma. I mean, you've starred in other TV shows, and you've
starred in movies, but we don't know as much about you as we do about a lot of
people who are at this level.

So your father, according to the biographical material I've been able to read,
was - one of the things that he did was he was a farm owner, and your mother
was a dog breeder.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BIANCULLI: This sounds like no matter where you went as a kid, you were hit
with chores. Is that true?

Mr. CHANDLER: Yeah, we - I mean, when we moved down to Georgia, we owned 22
acres of land. About seven of it was pasture. We had - we went from Lake
Forest, Illinois, which is not a farming community by a long stretch, and my
father, he bought this piece of land. They'd always raised and showed - they
showed great Danes. They've always had great Danes.

And they were very successful with the breeding and the showing of them. Hence,
I was always in a motor home, traveling around the country, going to these dog
shows as a kid.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CHANDLER: As well, down there, we had a boarding kennel. So the
responsibility of 22 acres with a boarding kennel, a business, and there were a
lot of chores, a lot of responsibilities, and I did the best I could to keep up
with them, yes.

BIANCULLI: What about your own high school experience rings true to you, even
though it's a different generation? What do you remember - I know you played
high school football for a couple of years, and you've downplayed your
abilities, but what do you remember about the other players and the coaches and
just the other students in general?

Mr. CHANDLER: High school was interesting, because I went from a public school,
middle school, to an academy where the first year we were doing Latin,
chemistry, biology.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CHANDLER: I mean, I was woefully unprepared for the type of study. At any
rate, it was halfway through that first year of school, as well, that my father
passed away.

However, he did get to see, that year I played football for the very first
time. I was the smallest cat on the - the smallest fellow on the team. And we
won the state championship. So I've got to experience something that very few
people get to experience.

I didn't play. I was a rather small and very heavy; and however, I put my two
cents in worth, and the joy of winning that state championship, I felt just as
much of my sweat was on the field as anyone else's.

And it was just an incredible feeling of accomplishment, and it truly - it was
a proud moment. And the things that I learned out on that football field,
again, lessons that you just don't forget, you know, the guy who reaches down
and picks you up and says hey, good job, even though he's 6'2" and just knocked
your helmet off your head.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CHANDLER: It makes you feel good. You learn lessons about yourself. You
learn about yourself, what you can give, and how far you can go.

BIANCULLI: If this is too sensitive a question, just tell me. But I'm wondering
if, at that age, when you lose a parent, if you have to make a conscious
decision to decide how to act to the people around you, to your friends, to the
people who don't know you, to your relatives, and if that isn't some sort of an
- you know, the most horrific kind of acting choice.

Mr. CHANDLER: I would go a step further and say you try to figure out how to
act with people so many different times in so many different ways that in the
end, you're not quite sure how you're acting, but that's the choice. Do you
know what I'm saying?

I can remember now thinking about it, trying to figure out how to act, how to
be because not only do you lose a parent, and it's such a shock, I was in a new
world for not very long before I lost him. I'm 14 at this point, just - I mean,
14 years old, a boy loses his father. It - you know, there are worse things in
the world by far, but it's complicated.

And I never knew how to be a man. I didn't have a figure to bounce off of. My
mother, a wonderful woman, just can't take the place of that. My brothers and
my sister were moved on. So I was always trying to figure out how to act, how
to be, and I was always very conscious. It made me very self-conscious.

And I was also far more introspective. And I was far more curious about
observing others and how they did it.

BIANCULLI: There's one other clip that I want to play, and it's from the
championship game episode from the first season. And here you are playing the
coach, coming in and talking to your team. But your team is down at halftime,
and you're confronting the team.

(Soundbite of television program, "Friday Night Lights")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) When Jason Street went down the first game
of the season, everybody wrote us off, everybody. And yet here we are at the
championship game; 40,000 people out there have also written us off.

There are a few out there who do still believe in you, a few who will never
give up on you. You go back out on the field, those are the people I want in
your minds. Those are the people I want in your hearts.

Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He's going to
fight, and he's going to lose. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of
that battle, he does not lose himself. This game is not over. This battle is
not over.

So let's hear it one more time together: Clear eyes, full hearts.

Unidentified People: (As characters) Clear eyes, full hearts. Let's go.

(Soundbite of applause)

BIANCULLI: Your reaction?

Mr. CHANDLER: Well, I've got chills, to be quite honest. That quiet speech
followed by those kids in there with, you know, can't lose, it's just this
perfect setup for the scene.

We were up in Dallas shooting that, and I had the flu. I was sick as a dog. I
remember Pete Berg coming down on the field to say hello to me, and he just
walked away because everyone knew.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CHANDLER: So I do remember doing that scene. It was a daze. I was in a
daze, actually. But right before that clip went on, I was thinking the one
thing that allows me to do so much on this show is honesty. And this is a very
honest show. There's a reality to it that comes out of me quite easily.

And I think that's what makes that scene because out of my honesty, those kids
have the honest, and they're sharing it right back with me.

BIANCULLI: All right, well, Kyle Chandler, thanks very much for being on FRESH
AIR.

Mr. CHANDLER: It was a pleasure to be here. I love your show, and thank you so
much.

BIANCULLI: Kyle Chandler from a conversation recorded in 2008. Coming up, a
visit with one of the driving forces behind "Friday Night Lights," executive
producer Peter Berg. This is FRESH AIR.
..COST:
$00.00
..INDX:
137826442
*** TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY BOUNDARY ***
..DATE:
20110715
..PGRM:
Fresh Air
..TIME:
12:00-13:00 PM
..NIEL:
N/A
..NTWK:
NPR
..SGMT:
Behind The Scenes Of 'Friday Night Lights'

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

Tonight, NBC presents the final episode of "Friday Night Lights," which
premiered in 2006. Two years earlier, there was a movie of the same name
starring Billy Bob Thornton as the coach of a Texas high school football team.

(Soundbite of film, "Friday Night Lights")

Mr. BILLY BOB THORNTON (Actor): (As Coach Gary Gaines) It's a good day,
gentlemen. It's a good day to think about responsibility. It's a good today to
ask yourself if, on a personal level, you're willing to accept that, if you're
willing to accept the responsibility that you have to protect this team and
this school and this town.

And make no mistake about it, gentlemen. We are in the business of protecting
this town. We're in the business of winning. The expectations couldn't be any
higher.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. THORNTON: (As Gaines) We will win state.

BIANCULLI: In 2007, FRESH AIR contributor Dave Davies spoke with Peter Berg,
the executive producer of the movie and TV versions of "Friday Night Lights."
Both adaptations were based on the nonfiction book by Buzz Bissinger.

Mr. PETER BERG (Executive Producer, "Friday Night Lights"): What Bissinger did
so successfully was he used high school football as a backdrop to explore, you
know, very legitimate social issues: racism, education, family values,
religion.

This was really the heart of "Friday Night Lights," particularly issues like
racism and education. Those were two huge issues in the book. And I decided not
to try and tackle racism as a theme in the film.

I didn't think that we'd be able to service it and give it the respect and
treat it with the complexity that it warrants. So we dealt with it in a much
more subtle manner and decided to focus primarily on the concept of football,
the concept of that one special moment in a life in which everything really
seems to make sense, which is certainly a theme that Bissinger hit in his book.

And, you know, for all the criticism that "Friday Night Lights" the book took
when it came out, particularly in Odessa, Texas, where Bissinger received death
threats after the book was published because they felt that they were being
portrayed as overly fanatic and racist and people who had their academic
priorities, you know, completely backwards, Bissinger really first and foremost
presented a world in which sport was a beautiful and magical experience. And
Bissinger believed that. And that was what I chose to focus on primarily in the
film and let these other issues percolate but certainly not dominate.

DAVE DAVIES: Now, you spent time in Texas sort of getting into the frame of
mind to portray Texas high school football. But the series itself is actually
shot in Austin. Now, I'm sure this could have been done on soundstages in Los
Angeles. What did doing it in Texas bring to the series?

Mr. BERG: Well, I mean, it was a deal-breaker for us. We had to shoot the show
in Texas. It's just too unique of a culture, and the network was very
supportive of it. We didn't want to build any sets, and we haven't. Actually,
that's not true. We built a locker room, but other than that, we shoot the show
entirely in real locations with, you know, as many Texas actors as we can.

We wanted to avoid bad Southern accents wherever possible, and I think that
putting the show in Texas was and is a critical aspect to why this show, you
know, is working creatively.

DAVIES: You know, I was going to ask you about this. There was a DJ from a
Houston radio station who said about the series: If you already have this
impression of Texas as a bunch of Podunk hicks in the country, and all we care
about is football and having sex on washing machines, this series totally
supports that.

I actually don't agree. I mean, I think one of the things I like about this is
that it's not one-dimensional, and it does show the complexity of a culture
that is rooted in a real place with real traditions and accents.

Mr. BERG: I mean, yeah. I'm not clear on where that gentleman is coming from or
what his point of view is. I mean, I think that you know, I think there's
certainly an inherent sensitivity to how any culture is portrayed, and Texas is
obviously a very, very proud and, you know, culturally oriented state. It's one
of the things that I love about Texas.

And, you know, it doesn't surprise me that anytime someone - especially, you
know, outsiders come and sort of set up camp in that state, there's going to be
a response, and there's going to be an inherent skepticism.

You know, I remember when I was up in Odessa researching the making of the
film. I was at a high school football game in Permian, at Ratliff Stadium, and
20,000 people on a Friday night watching this football game.

And I was standing up in the top of the stadium looking down, and there was a
long stairway that went all the way from the top to the field, I mean real
long, couple of hundred yards. And I was up at the very top, and I was looking
down, and a woman was kind of coming up the steps towards me from the bottom,
very purposefully. And she had a baby in one arm and a big thing of popcorn, I
remember, in the other arm.

And she was just chugging up those steps, and I was watching her. And I was,
you know, noting that she seemed to be coming straight at me with purpose. And
she got right up to me, and she pointed a finger in my eye, and she said: Are
you here to make a movie about "Friday Night Lights?"

And I said: Well, yes, I am. And she looked at me. And she's just glaring at
me. And she had this baby in her arm, and the baby was looking at me. And she
said, are you going to make us look like monsters?

And it really hit me, and I said: No, ma'am, I don't - no, I'm not going to -
no.

And she looked at me. She said: Let me tell you something. We are not monsters.
And she turned around and walked down those steps. And I was, you know, stunned
and thought about that for a long time and, you know, thought about it as I was
making the film very day and thought about it as I was writing the pilot for
the television series.

And, you know, there is certainly a responsibility. We aspire to honor what
Buzz Bissinger did and the respect that he had for those players.

BIANCULLI: Peter Berg, executive producer of "Friday Night Lights," speaking to
FRESH AIR contributor Dave Davies in 2007. We'll have more of their
conversation in the second half of the show. I'm David Bianculli, and this is
FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

BIANCULLI: This is FRESH AIR. I’m David Bianculli in for Terry Gross, back with
more of our tribute to "Friday Night Lights," which presents its final episode
tonight on NBC. The show and its two leading stars were just nominated for Emmy
awards.

FRESH AIR contributor Dave Davies spoke with "Friday Night Lights" executive
producer Peter Berg in 2007.

DAVIES: I want to talk just a bit about the production. You know, I mean TV
series typically are done on tight schedules and scenes are carefully blocked
out and camera angles have been...

Mr. BERG: Mm-hmm.

DAVIES: ...carefully considered to get exactly the lighting and the angles that
they want. Your technique here is very different. Describe how you do this?

Mr. BERG: Right. Well, we generally walk into a location that's a real
location, so if we're shooting in a restaurant, we just take a regular
restaurant the way it is. We'll generally, you know, approach the restaurant a
day before and tell them if they have regular clientele that come and want to,
you know, hang out for a day and be part of a show, that they should just come.

We hire the - we use the local cooks, the local waitresses. We bring the actors
in with a minimal amount of equipment, you know: grip equipment, rigging and
lighting. We let them kind of walk around rehearsing the scene. We encourage
them to improvise and make the dialogue their own, change things. We don't call
them scripts. We tend to call them vague guidelines.

And then we come in with a bunch of handheld cameras, and we tell everyone to
just sort of go, and it's over very quickly. And for people that aren't used to
it, it's somewhat traumatic and they wonder kind of what happened when we say,
okay, we got it, and we move on to the next location.

DAVIES: You know, we had one more cut maybe I thought we would play. And this
is a quieter moment, a moment in the hospital where Jason Street, who began the
season as the star quarterback, lies at this point possibly paralyzed. And his
coach is talking to him. And Street asks the coach how his replacement, a
probably underprepared quarterback name Matt Saracen's doing. Let's listen.

Mr. BERG: Mm-hmm.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Friday Night Lights")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SCOTT PORTER (Actor): (as Jason Street) How's Saracen doing?

Mr. KYLE CHANDLER (Actor): (as Coach Eric Taylor) Sure. He's doing fine. He's
throwing like a girl, but he's doing fine. He's doing fine. It'll take some
time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. PORTER: (as Jason Street) You know, I was, I was kind of like that kid, you
know? He's a lot different than me. Yeah. He doesn’t need a roadmap like I do.
Kind of creative, you know, listens to Bob Dylan and draws pictures and stuff.
I don’t know, he's a good kid. I think you free him up a little bit out there
on that field he'll make some things happen for you.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Coach Eric Taylor) You’re a good man. You’re a good man.
You’re what makes guys like me want to coach. You’re a good man.

DAVIES: Any thoughts about that scene, Peter? Yeah. Yeah.

Mr. BERG: That's a - I mean I have to say I find that very emotional. I - when
we were filming the movie, we spent a lot of time filming real playoff games
and we use that footage in the film. We'd shoot real high school playoff games
and then cut that into the film. And we were filming a playoff game at Austin,
Westlake High School in Austin, and it was a game between the Westlake
Chaparrals and a school out of San Antonio, Texas. And in the fourth quarter
there was a big, very violent collision and a 16-year-old boy named David
Edwards who played cornerback for San Antonio broke his neck. And in that
moment was - went from being a, you know, beautiful extremely athletic young
teenage boy to being in instant quadriplegic and lost all the movement in his
body from his neck down. And that was an obviously a very, very emotional and
profound experience for me and for all of the crew and for everyone in that
stadium that experienced that and went through that.

And the storyline of Jason Street hurting himself and trying to, you know,
reclaim his identity after such a traumatic incident was inspired by David
Edwards.

DAVIES: You’ve been around television for a long time. And this series has
gotten a lot of critical acclaim and has a very devoted audience but not a huge
audience. Why do you think it struggled to find the big numbers that the
networks want?

Mr. BERG: I think there were, there's two reasons that we're struggling with
the ratings. I think one was a preconceived idea that the show was going to be
exclusively about high school football. And that was off-putting to a lot of
people, and it was off-putting to women, it was off-putting to high school
football players who were concerned that it wouldn't be realistic. It was off-
putting to sports fans who were, you know, getting their fill of football.
Getting over the initial hurdle of football was a big problem.

And the second, you know, problem which was - is equally significant for us is,
you know, a question of time slot. First we were opposite this television show
"Dancing with the Stars," which was hugely successful. And now we're up against
"American Idol," and these shows are just, you know, beating us up regularly
and we can't win that way.

DAVIES: Well, Peter Berg, thanks so much for speaking with us.

Mr. BERG: It's my pleasure. Thank you very much.

BIANCULLI: "Friday Night Lights" executive producer Peter Berg speaking with
Dave Davies in 2007.

David Edwards, the paralyzed young athlete Peter Berg spoke about and who
inspired the Jason Street character and storyline in the TV series, died the
following year at age 20.

Coming up, "Friday Night Lights" co-star Connie Britton.

This is FRESH AIR.
..COST:
$00.00
..INDX:
137826323
*** TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY BOUNDARY ***
..DATE:
20110715
..PGRM:
Fresh Air
..TIME:
12:00-13:00 PM
..NIEL:
N/A
..NTWK:
NPR
..SGMT:
Spending 'Friday Night' With Connie Britton

(Soundbite of music)

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

Our next guest is Connie Britton who plays Tami Taylor, the wife of Kyle
Chandler's Coach Eric Taylor on NBC's "Friday Night Lights." To me, their
relationship and their strong, funny, tender, realistic marriage is the heart
and soul of their show.

I spoke to Connie Britton last year.

Many people watching the show have admired the marriage between your
characters, or maybe even aspired to the marriage. How do you see that
marriage? And what do you hope to convey about it?

Ms. CONNIE BRITTON (Actress): Well, you know, it's been an exploration for both
of us. And I've certainly learned a lot from Kyle because he has been married
for a long time and I think he brought a lot of that to this, to this
relationship. We really agreed about the values of the marriage and of what we
were trying to create. You know, we both agreed we did not want this to be a
marriage where we were going to be ultimately addressing, you know, infidelity
or whatever. We just we really wanted to deal with the authenticity of what it
is to try to make a marriage work and the drama of two people really trying to
be in a relationship with each other that is, you know, nourishing and
supportive is pretty great drama.

BIANCULLI: And it's not only husband/wife, but it's parents and daughter. So
far, this next scene is I think my favorite scene from the entire show.

Ms. BRITTON: Oh, thank you.

BIANCULLI: And it's after, I don't know where you rank it, but it's after your
character sees your daughter's boyfriend, Matt Saracen, buying condoms.

Ms. BRITTON: Mm-hmm.

BIANCULLI: And you pull you daughter aside to talk to her about it. And we have
- this is you in the scene along with Aimee Teegarden, who plays Julie. Here we
go.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Friday Night Lights")

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Are you and Matt Saracen having sex?

Ms. AIMEE TEEGARDEN (Actor): (as Julie Taylor) No. We're thinking about it.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) You're thinking about it? Are you thinking about
pregnancy? Are you thinking about sexually transmitted diseases?

Ms. TEEGARDEN: (as Julie Taylor) Well, I mean obviously, that's why he's buying
condoms.

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Oh, I see. So you're just buying condoms and then
when you buy condoms that just makes you ready to make love to somebody -
anybody.

Ms. TEEGARDEN: (as Julie Taylor) Making love...

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Don't do that. Don't you smirk at me right now. I
am very upset. You are not allowed to have sex. You're 15 years old.

Ms. TEEGARDEN: (as Julie Taylor) I just - I don't see what the big deal is.
It's just one body part going...

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) No its not. No its not. It's not just one body
part going into another body part. And the fact that you think that it's just
one body part going into another body part makes me real clear on the fact that
you really are not ready for this. And I need you to be able to hear that. I
need you to be able to hear me say that to you.

Ms. TEEGARDEN: (as Julie Taylor) I'm listening to you.

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Let me tell you what the big deal is. Let me tell
you what can happen. What can happen is that you can be hurt. And you can be
degraded. And you can become hard. And you can become cynical. And I don’t want
that to happen to you. This is something that's special. It's something that's
meant for people who are in love.

Ms. TEEGARDEN: (as Julie Taylor) Okay. I understand.

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Then you can wait. I want you to be able to talk
to me about it.

Ms. TEEGARDEN: (as Julie Taylor) Okay. I mean we're talking, right?

BIANCULLI: That is such a wonderful scene.

Ms. BRITTON: Mm, thank you.

BIANCULLI: The intensity and the honesty of it. How do you get there? As an
actress, what can you tell me about filming that scene?

Ms. BRITTON: Well, you know, this would be a good time to talk about just the
general process of our show because we shoot with three cameras going all the
time.

BIANCULLI: Mm-hmm.

Ms. BRITTON: Which is very unusual. Most film and television shoots with one
camera. And so you keep shooting a scene over and over again. We shoot with
three cameras, so they're always getting different - they're always getting
different angles so there a lot - and we never know where the cameras are. We
don't rehearse. They don't tell us where to stand, which is what you call
having marks. We don't have marks. So there's a real freedom in it. And it's
interesting, when you just played that, I heard a - one of my favorite in lines
in that scene is the line where I say, you're not old enough to have - you're
not allowed to have sex.

BIANCULLI: Mm-hmm.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BRITTON: You know, as if a mother is allowed to tell - can forbid her
daughter from having sex, you know. And in the script, that line was in the
script and I remember it was written a little differently in the script, and it
was written almost in a not in a joking way, but almost to, you know, have Tami
look like she's kind of pulling her hair out. Like, you're not allowed to have
sex. You know what I mean?

BIANCULLI: Mm-hmm.

Ms. BRITTON: But because of the way we shoot and then we had this great
director, Allison Liddi-Brown was shooting that episode, and I think she had
told Julie, Aimee Teegarden, who plays Julie to laugh at me or something, you
know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BRITTON: And that really got my goat, you know. So suddenly it went in this
whole different direction and because we had the freedom to do that, we weren't
being concerned about where the camera was, where the lights were, where our
marks were supposed to be, when we were supposed to say what at, you know, if
there was going to be a camera on us or not, which is a lot of the time what
you end up being concerned about when you're shooting TV.

BIANCULLI: We've played a scene with you with your family. I'd like to play one
more scene. You know, your character began as a guidance counselor and then
became principal of Dillon School and got into a lot of hot water there. And so
this is a scene where when you are the school principal of Dillon, you're
pushing through the transfer of a star football player to a smaller rival
school where your husband now coaches. And one of the Dillon Panther Boosters
has threatened action if Tami goes through with it. So you bust in on the next
meeting of the Booster Association and confront him, knowing full well that
everyone else who's also a Booster is eavesdropping with great interest. So
here we go.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Friday Night Lights")

Mr. D.W. MOFFETT (Actor): (as Joe McCoy) And then, Buddy, are we looking to
talk to that...

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Sorry. I hate to interrupt. How are you? Good to
see you, Sam. Don't mean to interrupt. Could I just have a quick word with you,
Joe? Go, talk amongst yourselves.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) I just want to make sure that we didn't have any
misunderstanding, the other day when we had that conversation in the school
parking lot. You know, with the gold card and all that stuff.

Mr. MOFFETT: (as Joe McCoy) Mm-hmm.

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) And I just want to make sure I was clear that my
decision has been made and is made and that Luke Cafferty is going to East
Dillon High.

Mr. MOFFETT: (as Joe McCoy) Are you clear about what I told you?

Ms. BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Oh yeah. I think I heard you. You mean about
doing an investigation and retroactively taking away a Panther top state title?
That's the thing you’re talking about? Because I just want to actually make
sure that you also check with all these gentlemen here about that. Because as
you said, you know, that's going to mean rings being taken away and things like
that. And I confess that they're a lot of rings in this group, you know, family
and whatnot. So, you know, you do what you have to do. I know you're going to
do what you have to do but I just want to make sure I have been very clear with
you where I stand on it. And so, I'll let ya'll get back to it, thank you so
much. Thank you so much. Ya'll enjoy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BIANCULLI: The Booster clip, you know, illustrates such a forceful, charming
Southern woman where you go in, seemingly unarmed, but you're the equal of not
only anyone in there, but everyone in there.

Ms. BRITTON: Mm-hmm.

BIANCULLI: And you know, where does that come from, or how much fun is that to
play?

Ms. BRITTON: So much fun. And all I know is I know that quality so well that
I'm sure I probably have a little bit of it myself. They were tough broads. My
mother would march herself up to our school and have it out if she thought we
weren't getting, you know, if she thought they were screwing up in something
that we were, you know, some class or something.

BIANCULLI: Mm-hmm.

Ms. BRITTON: She was like a mother bear. And a lot, you know, these were not
women who were just going sit back and say, yes sir, no sir. You know, they,
but they were sweet because they knew that that's what they had to do to get
their point across in that sort of environment. It's a real interesting thing
that happens, I think, to - in just speaking really generally, to women who are
in an environment that is considered to be kind of conventional, and that is
that they find ways, real subtle ways and personality ways, to break out of
that or to empower themselves in the face of that. You know, I think that was a
lot of it too.

BIANCULLI: Is it too Freudian to ask if you got influenced or inspired by your
own mother?

Ms. BRITTON: I was, for sure. Yeah. And actually, strangely, my mother actually
was from Connecticut. But we lived a good part of - I mean most of my life in
Virginia. And she lived the last part of her - the last half of her life, she
passed away actually a couple years ago...

BIANCULLI: I'm sorry.

Ms. BRITTON: ...in Virginia. And so - and she really took it on, you know? But
she really adapted to the southern world. And so I felt that she, there were a
lot – there are a lot of things that I take from her in the character as well.
Yeah. And actually, you know what? The truth - timing-wise, she passed away
right before we started shooting "Friday Night Lights," so I, you know, I've
never really thought of this, actually, until you just asked the question. But
I realized being home during that period specifically and seeing the casseroles
and the brownies and the cookies that ended up on the front porch daily, and
the organization of the neighbors and the people at how they were going to come
together for the family.

And so I actually think that that - that experience, in particular, in a more
fresh way, and being able to be around all those women and then all my high
school friends who, of course, all came back and gather around me, I think
really contributed to the character.

BIANCULLI: It actually makes, you know, Tami sort of in one small respect a way
of keeping your mom alive if you started the series right after that.

Ms. BRITTON: Uh-huh. Yeah. Yeah.

BIANCULLI: So have you ever gotten coached on your accent or corrected for your
accent, or how does that work behind the scene? How did you nail that?

Ms. BRITTON: I have not been coached. You know, I think I'm lucky because I
think I have a pretty good ear. And again, being in Austin helps so much. There
was one time that I had to say the word pecan. And everybody - and see these
are my coaches, everybody in the crew. They were like, I said it wrong. And by
the way, I can't tell you if its pecan, pecan or pecan.

BIANCULLI: Yeah.

Ms. BRITTON: Which I still right at this moment can't tell you, because I kept
doing it wrong. And first they laughed at me and then they said - they kept
correcting me over and over again. And I think we may have gotten one take
where I actually said it properly in the correct Texas way. But that was
tricky.

BIANCULLI: You couldn't just change it to a different kind of pie?

Ms. BRITTON: Oh gosh, that would've been real smart, wouldn't it have been?
Yeah, I know.

BIANCULLI: Well, it depends. I don't know how much they're spending, but you
know, four or five takes in...

Ms. BRITTON: I really...

BIANCULLI: ...it could've been a pumpkin pie.

Ms. BRITTON: No. In fact, you're right though. Now that you say that, we had
pecan pie. That's what we had, and that's all that we had - you know, if we
could've made it, you know, lemon meringue, it would've made things a lot
simpler.

BIANCULLI: But I guess if it was the only thing on set.

Ms. BRITTON: Yup.

BIANCULLI: That's it.

Ms. BRITTON: Exactly.

BIANCULLI: Best of luck with whatever is next. And thank you so much for some
really great years of television. So Connie Britton, thank you so much for
being on FRESH AIR.

Ms. BRITTON: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

BIANCULLI: Connie Britton, co-star of NBC's "Friday Night Lights," in a
conversation from 2010.

The NBC show presents its final episode tonight. And Connie Britton, co-star
Kyle Chandler, and the series itself were all just nominated for Emmy Awards.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Friday Night Lights")

Mr. KYLE CHANDLER (Actor): (as Eric Taylor) So let's hear it one more time –
together. Clear eyes. Full hearts.

FOOTBALL PLAYERS: We can't lose.

Mr. CHANDLER: (as Eric Taylor) Let's go.

(Soundbite of cheering and applause)
..COST:
$00.00
..INDX:
137825852
*** TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY BOUNDARY ***
..DATE:
20110715
..PGRM:
Fresh Air
..TIME:
12:00-13:00 PM
..NIEL:
N/A
..NTWK:
NPR
..SGMT:
'Hallows' Part 2 Works Like A Patronus Charm

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," which opened at midnight, is
the eighth and final film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's seven novels, a
multimedia phenomenon that has made her one of the most successful authors of
all time.

Here's film critic David Edelstein's last Potter review.

DAVID EDELSTEIN: Harry Potter. After a decade of saying it, I might never have
cause to say it again. Harry Potter. Dumbledore. Voldemort. Snape. Hermione.

No, it's not as momentous a day as the one in 2007 when lunatics the world over
queued up at midnight to buy the last book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows." And okay, I was one of them, but it was Friday, I didn't have to get
up the next morning. And along with millions, I had to know who lived and who
got Avada Kedavra'ed as Potter-ites say. We had a lot invested.

The opening midnight screenings of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part
2" were completely sold out, even though most people knew the ending. They
wanted closure. J.K. Rowling, good as she is, isn't a prose stylist: The films
put interesting faces to names and fabulous designs to humdrum descriptions. In
the novel, the climactic wand-off between Harry and Voldemort is notably
lacking in grandeur. Here's a case where movies can add a bit of magic.

We also need a final look at Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as
Hermione, and Rupert Grint as Ron. We met them when they were little and
watched them go through puberty and have their first snogs. Then Radcliffe went
naked in "Equus" on Broadway and Watson went to Brown and dropped out and
became a fashion plate.

(Singing) Is this the little boy at Hogwarts?

(Speaking) So many years. So many top-flight British actors showing up for
teeny scenes and making enough to buy country estates.

Now, finally, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," the last book
split in half by a studio terrified of losing a franchise, with the result that
"Part 1" felt padded. But "Part 2" works like a charm.

Not a charming charm. It's somber, weighty, funereal - a war film, with blood
and rubble under low gray English skies. Before Harry faces off against the
monster who murdered his parents, he, Ron and Hermione - fugitives now - track
down the last horcruxes, pieces of Voldemort's soul injected into sundry
objects. Trouble is, Harry and his nemesis have a telepathic link - which Harry
senses as he and his friends emerge, wet and shivering, from a river.

(Soundbite of movie, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2")

Mr. DANIEL RADCLIFFE (Actor): (as Harry) He knows. You know who, he knows we
broke into Gringotts. He knows what we took and knows we're hunting horcrux.

Ms. EMMA WATSON (Actor): (as Hermione )How does he know?

Mr. RADCLIFFE: (as Harry) He saw us.

Ms. WATSON: (as Hermione) You let him in? Harry, you can't do that.

Mr. RADCLIFFE: (as Harry) Hermione, I can't always help it. Well, maybe I can.
I don’t know. Never mind what happened. Well, he's angry and scared too. He
knows if we find and destroy all the horcruxes, we'll be able to kill him. I
reckon he'll stop at nothing to make sure we don't find the rest. There's more
- one of them's at Hogwarts.

Ms. WATSON: (as Hermione) What? You saw it?

Mr. RADCLIFFE: (as Harry) I saw the castle and Rowena Ravenclaw. It must have
something to do with her. We have to go there now.

Ms. WATSON: (as Hermione) Well, we can't do that - we've got to plan. We've got
to figure it out.

Mr. RADCLIFFE: (as Harry) Hermione, when have any of our plans ever actually
worked? We plan, we get there - all hell breaks loose.

EDELSTEIN: That's the only self-conscious joke in the series, which reminds me
to tip my cap to Steve Kloves, who wrote seven of the eight Potter films and
evidently had his own telepathic link with J.K. I hope he goes back to making
movies as original as his "The Fabulous Baker Boys."

The director of movies five through eight, David Yates, goes for deep-toned
Gothic horror, which doesn't make for highs and lows but a steady aura of doom.
"Deathly Hallows - Part 2" features his and cinematographer Eduardo Serra's
most expressive work, which you don't need to see in 3-D to be awed by. The
climax is fully realized - the blitzkrieg-like attack on Hogwarts, the
revelatory flashback involving the past of Alan Rickman's Professor Snape, and
the final duel, rich in mythic splendor.

Goodbye to Ralph Fiennes's Voldemort, who slowly evolved from primordial slime
but stopped at the reptile stage and is here like a drug-addled rock star in
his final days, surrounded by sycophants like Helena Bonham Carter in a fright
wig. Goodbye to Rickman, who conveys Snape's tortured soul by inserting
supernaturally longer pauses between syllables. Goodbye to Maggie Smith and all
those royal bit players.

Is shame the key to the whole Potter series? We see Harry prove himself over
and over and still wind up an outcast, a victim of his birth and even his own
celebrity. Will there be no end to his humiliation? There will. You exhale at
the close of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," as you do at
Dickens. There's family, acceptance, and social justice. The kids are all right
- and their creator is richer than the queen.

BIANCULLI: David Edelstein is film critic for New York magazine.
..COST:
$00.00
..INDX:
137789271

Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

You May Also like

Did you know you can create a shareable playlist?

Advertisement

Recently on Fresh Air Available to Play on NPR

22:30

From 'Designing Women' To 'Hacks', Jean Smart's Career Is Still Going Strong

Smart is nominated for Emmy Awards for her performances Hacks, about a veteran comic working with a Gen-Z comedy writer, and the crime drama Mare Of Easttown. Originally broadcast May 2021.

52:30

'Storm Lake' Documentary Depicts The Triumph And Struggle Of A Local Newspaper

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Art Cullen discusses the battle to keep print news alive in small-town America. Cullen runs Iowa's Storm Lake Times, along with his brother, the paper's publisher.

There are more than 22,000 Fresh Air segments.

Let us help you find exactly what you want to hear.

Playing

Just play me something
Your Queue

Would you like to make a playlist based on your queue?

Generate & Share View/Edit Your Queue