Kyle Chandler: Eric Taylor is Role of a Lifetime

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Kyle Chandler was once the star of Early Edition.

For those who don't recall, it was about a guy who, for reasons completely unknown, gets tomorrow's newspaper on his doorstep today. So he's got 24 hours to try and prevent whatever disaster he reads about.

When the L.A. Daily News spoke with Chandler - now the star of Friday Night Lights - the subject of Early Edition came up as well.

"That was a fun show," he said. "I've been very fortunate, no doubt about that. I went four years on that."

Kyle Chandler is hopeful that the critically acclaimed but low-rated Friday Night Lights runs at least that long.

Heat of Battle
Chandler, Kyle

As Eric Taylor, coach of the high school football team in fictional Dillon, Texas, he heads a show that's about a lot more than football and uses its small-town backdrop to dramatize issues facing Middle America.

It was in danger of being axed after each of its two seasons but managed to weather so-so ratings and a writers strike to return in the fall - first on DirectTV, then rebroadcast on NBC in early 2009.

"To have this opportunity with the third season, I'm very excited for it," Chandler said. "I think the show will be as strong as ever. I think it's a new opportunity. As long as they keep it on the air."

"Everyone is excited. I'm working with some very intelligent people who are very creative. It's the best working atmosphere that I could ever imagine and I think a lot of that shows in the episodes. It all fits together."

This is the first year the show will air on DirectTV first in a deal that helped ensure Friday Night Lights' survival on broadcast TV, where shows routinely get dumped before given time to prove themselves.

Kyle Chandler is so confident about the show's quality that he believes if people sample it once or twice, they will never stop watching.

"I think the people that don't watch it are the people that haven't seen it," he said. "A lot of people that I know who have seen it who initially thought they wouldn't be watching it for whatever reason ended up finding out that it was a lot different than they ever had anticipated. We have a lot of very strong followers of the show. I expect that to continue and I expect a whole new audience with 17 million subscribers to DirectTV having a shot at it. It's really exciting. We've got a real chance of showing more people what we have."

TV viewers first got to know Chandler, 42, from roles on the well-regarded television series Homefront and the final season of Tour of Duty, followed by roles in the short-lived Joan Cusack sitcom What About Joan.

He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his memorable four-episode gig on Grey's Anatomy and has appeared in films as the Peter Jackson-directed vehicle King Kong, The Kingdom and Mulholland Falls.

But the leading role of Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights is the one he's been waiting for his entire career.

"I really like him a lot," Kyle said of his TV alter-ego. "I was unsure about him at first but I like everything about him."

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Friday Night Lights Quotes

Answer me this, Timmy. What happened to Texas forever, huh? What happened to livin' large, what happened to that eternal bond that you used to love to throw around when I was still healthy and headed towards the NFL, huh? I NEED you here, Tim! I need you.

Jason Street

Nature already has meat. It's called a cow.


Friday Night Lights Music

  Song Artist
Muzzle of bees Muzzle of Bees Wilco iTunes
Song Evergreen The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Song Bang a Gong (Get it On) T. Rex