Connie Britton catches a Hail Mary

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Connie Britton career highlights

Call it a Hail Mary! After surviving four seasons of mediocre ratings and a dramatic shift from primetime to DirecTV, NBC's little-series-that-could is wrapping up its fifth and final season with two Emmy nominations for stars Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler turn in Season 4. Britton talks with THR's Leslie Bruce about her "surprising" nom, hints for "Friday Night Lights' " final quarter, and her bittersweet departure from Dillon.

The Hollywood Reporter: After four seasons on "FNL," your first Emmy nom! How does it feel?

Britton: We've gone for so long with the Emmys not really acknowledging "Friday Night Lights." We feel like our little Texas show has hit the big time and that's really exciting. All of the accolades and the fan support have been so satisfying. So, this is icing on the cake!
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THR: Tami Taylor is a feisty Texas woman balancing a full-time job and a family. How did you channel Mrs. Coach?

Britton: She's an amalgam of many different Southern women I've met through my life. I know this woman. I can live in the bones of this woman, but still have a constant sense of discovery about who she is. I know that sounds a little actor-y. I didn't want her to be the typical wife and martyr role, because that's not real.

THR: You and Kyle have such a great rapport on- and off-camera. What will you miss most about your co-star and fellow nominee?

Britton: Kyle Chandler has been such a good friend throughout this journey. It's great to be able to have a partner at work, but I won't miss all of his corny jokes; although, if I'm honest with myself, maybe I'll miss his jokes most of all. They're so bad! He tells the terrible jokes your grandpa would tell. I love to tease him about it.

THR: For the "FNL" loyalists, can you share some hints for the final season?

Britton: There's been a lot of change in the last two years. Tami is over at East Dillon now. This season is about the Taylors' getting entrenched in that new world. We're really starting to see where their characters are going to go and what their lives will be like after we leave them behind. We recently shot the last scenes in the Taylor house. I was not ready to say goodbye. I don't know how I'm going to let Dillon go.

THR: If you could step into the character of any of your fellow lead actress nominees, comedy or drama, who would it be?

Britton: Tina Fey in "30 Rock"! Liz Lemon is such a juggling act. She's trying to be so many things to so many people, trying desperately to scrape together some life of her own, while dealing with a boss that she loves to hate. If I had Liz Lemon's job, I would probably put my head in a toilet and flush! But it would be pretty awesome.

THR: Growing up, what TV shows most influenced you and encouraged you to try your hand in acting?

Britton: "I Love Lucy" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show " were both strong influences for me. They were led by strong women, in very different situations, but both using humor and comedy to get through the day. I'm sure it's no accident that it's something that has happened to me when creating this character in Tami.
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