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After five seasons, NBC/DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights says goodbye for good on Friday with an extended episode in which the Lions, led by quarterback Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan) head to State. The critically acclaimed series, which has struggled to lure viewers and wound up being saved by DirecTV in a then-first-of-its-kind distribution deal, has been praised for its realistic portrayal of marriage, family and Texas football.
On the eve of FNL’s series finale, here are five things Jordan will miss about the Texas-set drama.
1. The cast. From Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton and Lions teammate Matt Lauria, the series has always been about family — on and off the field, behind and in front of the cameras. “[Vince] needed a father-like person in his life so badly, which is why he and Coach Taylor (Chandler) eventually wound up getting along so well. … Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye to certain cast members — not to take anything away from the people I’ve worked with in the past and those I’ll work with in the future — but Friday Night Lights, I’m a little partial to,” Jordan says. “It’s one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with, and I’m going to miss them.”
2. Texas forever. While FNL has been praised for its authentic portrayal of marriage and family, the series also remains deeply authentic to its Texas community, often featuring local businesses — like the Landing Strip, among others — on the series. “You get die-hard fans that love the show, football fans, people from Texas — we use a lot of local mom-and-pop shops that may not have got attention elsewhere,” Jordan notes. “We’re an authentic show through and through. That’s what translates to the screen, that authenticity.”
3. Doing his own stunts. Jordan, who grew up an athlete, says he never got a chance to play in a big arena, and having the opportunity to lead the Lions as quarterback and film scenes in a big-game arena setting was “pretty insane.” “The feeling that I had commanding those guys on the offense and being the quarterback and shooting everything myself and how everyone responded to me … to be Vince in that moment was something that I’ll never forget,” he recalls. “That day we had a record number of extras for the show on the set and it was packed. I will never forget that moment … I felt like I was a gladiator in the Coliseum.”
4. No marks. Part of FNL’s gritty authenticity came in the way the series was shot — with actors having the freedom to do what felt right for the scene. “We didn’t have marks on Friday Night Lights,” Jordan says. “On our show, it was so dirty as far as camera movements. … There was very little red tape that we couldn’t cross and we could go anywhere. Our set was our world and we could move around and do what ever we felt was right. It doesn’t really happen that often in Hollywood.”
5. The food. Filming in Texas also meant being completely engrained in the culture, including the cuisine. “We had some of the best barbecue all the time,” Jordan recalls. “I’m a food fanatic and being in Austin, Texas, and having steaks and barbecue all the time … I’m going to miss that.”
The series finale of Friday Night Lights airs Friday at 8 p.m. on NBC. What will you miss most?
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