Kyle Chandler in strong position for Emmy upset


With the clock winding down in the fourth quarter, Kyle Chandler has the ball. The underdog in a fiercely competitive game, the Emmy nominee is staring down an imposing defensive line: Hugh Laurie, Michael C. Hall, Bryan Cranston, Matthew Fox and Jon Hamm. Having recently wrapped the fifth and final season of NBC/DirecTV's critical darling-with-modest-ratings "Friday Night Lights," Chandler receives a validating nom for his Season 4 turn and might just pull off the biggest upset of the season. "Coach" chats with THR's Leslie Bruce about the nomination, playing a heartthrob and saying farewell to Dillon, Texas.

The Hollywood Reporter:
You earned your first Emmy nom for a guest spot on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." How did you find out about your first lead actor nomination?
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Kyle Chandler: The night before I had gotten no sleep. My dogs had chewed their way through our fence and escaped. I stayed up until 2 a.m. looking for them before I finally got to sleep. Next thing I knew, my wife is waking me up, and I yelled: "I'm trying to sleep! For God's sake, leave me alone." And then she told me I was nominated again, and I said: "I don't care! I want to sleep, damn it!"

Critics have applauded your ability to channel the everyman in Coach Eric Taylor. What inspired you in developing this role?

To be honest, I usually don't know what the hell I'm doing; I'm just good at hiding it. But, a football coach I met with gave me one piece of advice: Love the kids. He told me that you can push them to the limit as long as you love them. It reminded me of my high school football coach. My father passed away when I was 14, and I remember my coach saying, "Kyle, if there's anything I can do for you, let me know." And I completely blew him off. It wasn't until later in life that I apologized to him, because I realized what he was trying to do. That gave me my inspiration for Coach.

Fans have lauded you as the heartthrob of the series. How does it feel to play such a beloved role?

Chandler: I'm the heartthrob? Well, goodness. That must be why it's the last year. If I'm the heartthrob, we're going downhill quick. I mean, goodnight. No, I'm not the heartthrob of the show, but you should tell my wife that. She'd appreciate it. Now that you say it, though, I'm feeling pretty good, walking a little taller.

THR: (Co-star) Connie Britton said that she will not miss your corny jokes. What will you miss most about your fellow Emmy nominee?

I'll tell you what I will not miss about Connie Britton. There's a word she uses that I can't stand. It's not allowed to be said in my house, at restaurants, wherever. I'll never use it. I despise it. It's when she says, "Sugar," because when she calls me "sugar," it's a substitute for an extraordinary amount of expletives. I will miss working with someone that I can always trust to let me fall to the ground, because I know she'll be there to catch me.

THR: You just finished shooting the final season. How difficult was it saying goodbye to Dillon?

Chandler: Bittersweet. Saying goodbye to the Taylor house hurt a lot. Our final scene there we shot on a hot, muggy night, and everyone was exhausted. And I was thinking, "I want to get home." But as we got into the van to leave, I looked back at the Taylor house, and it brought up a lot of memories. It stung. I grabbed my phone, stuck it out the window and took a picture of the house.  I'm going to put it in a tiny little frame and keep it my home. That will be "Friday Night Lights" for me, whenever I look at it.

Kyle Chandler career highlights

Kickoff: Chandler made his TV debut in 1988 alongside future "FNL" director Peter Berg in the CBS made-for-TV movie "Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story."

First quarter: In 1991, Chandler landed the lead role of Jeff Metcalf on the ABC drama "Homefront," about post-World War II America, co-starring fellow Emmy nominee John Slattery.

Second quarter: As Gary Hobson in the 1996-2000 CBS series "Early Edition," Chandler's character has access to future news via a mystical advanced copy of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Third quarter:
Appearing as lonely divorcee Grant Rashton, Chandler starred in the short-lived but much-buzzed-about NBC legal drama "The Lyon's Den" in 2003.

Fourth quarter:
In 2006, Chandler landed the role of a lifetime as Coach Eric Taylor in the NBC/DirecTV drama "Friday Night Lights."

The same year he began filming "FNL," Chandler earned his first Emmy nomination for his 2006-07 guest spot as Dylan Young on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy."
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