It has been three years since the last episode of one of the best television shows ever aired. Friday Night Lights might not have been the commercial success it should have been, but it did have a great five-season run. The show, created by Peter Berg, depicts high school life -or life, period- in rural Texas in a way that no other series will ever achieve. If you don’t know Friday Night Lights, slam your head into anything that’s hard, put your social life on hold and watch every single second of the show. If you’re lucky enough to know that Texas is forever and with clear eyes and full hearts, you can’t lose, you might have asked yourself the question: what has happened to the actors who played those extraordinary characters? Read on.

Coach Taylor creative dream

Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler)

Kyle Chandler handled his career after Friday Night Lights extremely well. He’s chosen to play small parts in huge, critically acclaimed movies. He played the FBI agent who hunted Leonardo DiCaprio’s Wolf Of Wall Street down. Before that, Kyle Chandler played a role in the pretty succesful indie-movie The Spectacular Now, the Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty and the Oscar-winning Argo. Not bad for an actor who was known as “the bomb-guy from Grey’s Anatomy” before Peter Berg casted him as Coach Taylor in FNL. Not everything is golden, though. Late last year, Showtime passed on The Vatican, in which Chandler would play the lead. It proved to be a minor bump in his steady rise on the acting-ladder. Last month, news broke that Chandler will be playing the lead in a Netflix thriller-slash-drama series from the creators of Damages. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he’ll star as “John, the married middle brother who takes care of the family, who is described as the kind of responsible guy who would work in law enforcement and the opposite of his older, black-sheep brother, Danny”. Yep, that sounds like a perfect part for Coach Eric Taylor.

Tami Taylor creative dream

Mrs. Taylor (Connie Britton)

Eric Taylor’s better half, also known as Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Coach and best-high-school-counselor-in-the-world, stuck to television. Around the same time Friday Night Lights ended, Connie Britton starred in the first season of hit series American Horrror Story. Being an anthology series, she didn’t return for season two. She did, however, land a big part on Nashville, where she plays Rayna Jaymes, a seasoned country singer next to the unexperienced but rising star Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). Two seasons in, it’s nowhere near as good as Friday Night Lights, but it’s highly entertaining1 and it’s always fun to watch Connie Britton play a strong, southern woman.

Aimee Teegarden creative dream

Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden)

Aimee Teegarden might have been the most underrated, sneaky-good actress in Dillon. She was quite, but bright and shining and I’m surprised that her perfomance on Friday Night Lights didn’t lead to a better career. The wide-eyed actress has played several small roles in mediocre movies -her part in Scream 4 is the most notable one- and a lead in a web series I’d never heard of (Aim High). This year, you can enjoy Aimee in Star-Crossed, an epic romance between a human girl and an alien boy, airing on CW. I haven’t seen one single second of this show, but my best guess is that Aimee Teegarden is the ONLY reason you could watch something like that.

tim riggins creative dream

Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch)

Taylor Kitsch and Peter Berg are a team. Half of Berg’s post-Friday Night Lights projects (the series, not the movie) starred Taylor Kitsch. Admitted, that’s a small sample size, but apparantly Berg really loves Kitsch. And it’s not hard to see why. His character in FNL was probably the best developed in the five-season run. He went from high-school-jock-going-nowhere-fast to a good-hearted, family- and Texas loving guy in just four seasons2. When Kitsch’s time as Tim Riggins ended, he seemed destined for greatness. But, just like Riggins, it didn’t pan out. Jon Carter flopped. And by ‘flopped’ I mean really, really bombed. Like 100-million-dollars-up-in-smoke.3 And even though that wasn’t Taylor’s fault, it’s hard to get rid of that stinkbomb. His next movie, Battleship, was with Peter Berg. But this movie too, wasn’t a succes. With an estimated budget of just over 200 million dollars for a movie based on a board game, Battleship just couldn’t be anything other than a disaster. Kitsch ended his cold streak with the Oliver Stone-directed Savages. Just last year starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in Lone Survivor (also directed by Peter Berg) and finally making some profit. Let’s hope he stays on track. If not, there’s always Texas.

landry clarke creative dream

Landry “Lance” Clarke (Jesse Plemons)

Jesse Plemons had an unthankful role in Friday Night Lights. Okay, he did get the chicks, but only for a short period of time. He was the guy you never noticed, but when he wasn’t around you started to miss him after a couple of episodes.4 He, like Taylor Kitsch, teamed up with Peter Berg on Battleship, but that didn’t land him any other big parts. He played a tiny role in The Master, but stayed busy on TV-shows Bent and, more famously, Breaking Bad. According to IMDB, Plemons has three movies in post-production: a Tommy Lee Jones movie, a Lance Armstrong biopic5 and a film called Flutter.

lyla garrity creative dream

Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly)

News flash: Minka Kelly will not be a superstar. I don’t know why exactly, but it’s the cold, hard truth. She obviously has the looks. She has the acting skills and she has a weird voice. But I don’t see her becoming more succesful than she is now. Very small roles on movies (The Kingdom, (500) Days of Summer, Just Go With It and The Butler most recently) and a couple of short stints on TV shows, that’s it. The reboot of Charlie’s Angels flopped, her presence on Parenthood was over before you realised Lyla Garrity was on it and now she stars in Almost Human. Even though it’s pretty beloved by fans and the ratings aren’t  half bad for a sci-fi show on Fox, it’s not a done deal the show will return for a second season. Let’s hope for Kelly that it will.

tyra collette creative dream

Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki)

Adrianne Palicki had a pretty good run from ’05 till ’09. She played in Friday Night Lights ánd Supernatural but since then, G.I. Joe Retaliation is her greatest achievement. I always thought Palicki, unlike Minka Kelly, would get some pretty stellar movie-offers after her performance as Tyra Collette. This year, she’ll star in John Wick, with Keanu Reeves and Wilem Dafoe. The movie is directed by David Leitch, a former stunt-man. So yeah, that doesn’t look too promising.

jason street creative dream

Jason “Seven” Street (Scott Porter)

When Jason Street was brutally knocked-down in that first episode of Friday Night Lights and it became clear he couldn’t walk again, I was pretty sure he’d be gone by the end of the season. But he stayed a lot longer than necessary and Scott Porter made the best of it. While Street’s story lines weren’t the most exciting, he played them beautifully. Nowadays he’s on the CW with OC-actress Summer Rachel Bilson and FNL-veteran Cress Williams on the succesful Hart of Dixie. Before that, he played in the wildly underrated Ten Years and Dear John. Scott Porter might not be a world class movie star, but he’s doing pretty good by himself.

vince howard creative dream

Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan)

Michael B. Jordan is on a roll these days. Out of all the amazing actors on Friday Night Lights, he’s the one riding the fast lane on the road to superstardom. Just like Minka Kelly, Jordan had a small role on Parenthood, before going full Hollywood. He crushed the box office with Chronicle6 and last year he played one of the most crushing roles of 2013 in Fruitvale Station. He definitely deserved an Oscar nomination for his role as Oscar Grant -I wrote about that at length– but it’s good to see he’s one of the most promising actors of his generation. That Awkward Moment might have been a step back for Michael B. Jordan, but it’s a commercial succes and probably led to his next role: the Human Torch on The Fantastic Four reboot.7

  1. If you can stand the drama and country music, that is.
  2. The last season, SPOILER, he went to prison. Longer than he should have, because he took the fall for his brother. How big of him.
  3. Personally, I didn’t like Jon Carter, but I didn’t hate it either. The movie just came 15 years too late.
  4. SPOILER! His biggest story line was also one of the weakest of FNL‘s run: him killing Tyra’s rapist.
  5. He doesn’t play Lance. That’s a shame.
  6. The budget for Chronicle was around 12 million. Opening weekend: 22 mill. Worldwide the movie grossed over 125 million dollars. Crazy.
  7. In both The Fantastic Four as That Awkward Moment, Jordan links up with Miles Teller, that other promising young actor. I can’t wait to see that one.

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