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On the critically adored NBC drama Friday Night Lights, Connie Britton plays Tami Taylor, the principal at Dillon High and the wife of the school's football coach, Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler). Over the past four seasons, her character has been a consistent source of support for the coach — even in the midst of professional and family dramas.
The TV series, based on Buzz Bissinger's nonfiction book about a Texas high school team, follows a 2004 movie, starring Billy Bob Thornton as the high school coach. Britton, who's been a Friday Night Lights constant, made her movie debut in 1994's The Brothers McMullen. Her early TV roles included starring opposite Michael J. Fox in the sitcom Spin City and playing small recurring roles on The West Wing and 24.
Though NBC's Friday Night Lights was almost canceled after three seasons, a co-production deal with satellite network DirecTV kept it alive for two more years. DirecTV subscribers have seen all of Season 4 already; on NBC, Season 4 is about halfway through. Meanwhile, down in Austin, Texas, Britton and the rest of the Friday Night Lights cast are filming the last few episodes of Season 5, which is expected to be the series' last. But in an interview with Fresh Air contributor David Bianculli, Britton speculated on the possibility of a sixth season for the show.
"The fact that we have existed even for five seasons is such an amazing anomaly, because we are certainly ratings-challenged — as anyone would tell you," Britton says. "But we've literally been supported by our fans, first and foremost. The critics have been great to us. ... And everybody is saying that Season 5 will be our last. And that said, because of the history of this show, I would not be surprised if suddenly in the 11th hour we were hearing about a sixth season."
On the marriage between her character, Tami Taylor, and Kyle Chandler's
"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 relationship: We really agreed about the values of the marriage and about what we were trying to create. We both agreed that we did not want this to be a marriage where we ultimately were addressing infidelity or whatever. We wanted that taken off the plate, and we've always talked about that with the writers too. We really wanted to deal with the authenticity of what it is to try to make a marriage work. ... If you're in what we'd consider to be a good marriage, there's going to be a foundation there. There's going to be a foundation that is solid. So on top of that foundation, you can rock the boat every which way that you want to, and be able to go back to what's at the core of it."
On how Friday Night Lights is filmed
"We shoot with three cameras going all the time, which is very unusual. Most film and television [shows] shoot 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 angles, 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. So there's a real freedom in it."
On playing a forceful, charming Southern woman
"It's so much fun. ... They were tough broads. My mother would march herself up to our school and have it out if she thought we were screwing up in some class or something. I mean, she was like a mother bear. And these were not women who were just going to sit back and say 'Yes sir. No sir.' But they were sweet because they knew that's what they had to do to get their point across in that sort of environment. ... There is a real strong sense of how women are expected to behave and come across, and all of those things are very traditional in that world. But it's also a world where people are being encouraged to have their own careers and take charge and be strong. But it's about what methods they've chosen to do that. So it's really fun to explore that."
David Bianculli is TV critic for TVWorthWatching.com and teaches television and film at Rowan University in New Jersey.
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