Zach Gilford Goes From High School to 'Grad' School
By Denise Warner Posted Aug 21st 2009 12:12PM
Friday Night Lights.' But Zach Gilford is much more than that. The outgoing star of 'Post Grad' sat down with us after an intense day of interviews to talk about his new movie, working with a veteran cast, what's in store for Matt Saracen on 'Lights' and why you won't catch him watching 'Jon & Kate Plus 8.' "If I really want to be a voyeur, I can stare through someone's window," he explains. Read the rest of PopEater's interview with Gilford inside.
Zach Gilford Visits PopEater
'Post Grad' star Zach Gilford visits the PopEater offices.
Ben Trivett, PopEater
Ben Trivett, PopEater
Are you tired?
I'm OK. I thought I'd be more so.
You've had a long day.
I just haven't been able to sleep the past week basically ... I've just had crazy, a lot of work stuff and I've been traveling a lot so I keep having to get up at 4 AM to get on a plane. I don't sleep really on planes and then I get somewhere and it's like non stop.
Do you live in LA?
Yeah I guess I'm based out of there, I'm just so in and out of there, it doesn't feel right to say I live there. I do have a place there, and my dog's there, so I guess technically I do.
Oh what kind of dog?
She's a mutt. I got her at a shelter down in Texas.
That's the best kind.
She's awesome, I love her.
OK, so 'Post Grad.' You play a guy named Adam who has just graduated from college. He's in love with his best friend and she doesn't necessarily love him back. What attracted you to that role?
Well I got the script and they had already pretty much cast the whole movie. So I knew it was Alexis [Bledel] and then Michael Keaton, Carol Burnett, Jane Lynch, you know so I could hear all these voices while I was reading it. I mean, even without reading it, knowing all those people were involved was pretty exciting. You know, I liked it. I thought it was pretty funny. It's a story you've seen a few times, but it's a got a few good, original takes on it. The family is very funny. You know, they are the kind of people you're like 'yeah, I have that person in my family.' But they are really goofy and embarrassing ... it was funny. And it was a good part. It wasn't too cheesy. You know, which I think sometimes these movies, it's a trap they face.
What's it like working with Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett?
It was sooooo cool. It was definitely intimidating. But they are just such nice, cool normal people. I think the best lesson I learned really was ... it just shows one of the reasons that they are definitely still working and have the status and people view them the way they do is because of the type of people they are. They are very professional on set, they treat everyone with respect and they are really good at their job. They are just super nice and fun to be around. But those are the people who are going to continue to work because people want to work with them.
So have you ever been that guy who's been in love with someone and she doesn't realize it, but she's in love with you?
Yeah, probably. I don't even remember, I've blacked it out.
Too many bad memories?
Too many bad memories.
What's it like going from TV to film?
Well, this transition was a little quick and extreme. 'Friday Night Lights,' it's unique. We shoot with three hand-helds [cameras], documentary style. We don't rehearse, we don't block, we improvise our lines. And I did that, I was shooting on Monday and I went straight to LA to start this on Tuesday, and it was like, 'No, it's one camera, hit your marks, say your lines the same every time, do everything the same' and I'm like 'What?' 'And if you move your head this way too much, you're blocking the camera.' And I was like ' Alexis, what do I do?' She's like 'you're fine, just don't move.'
Did you and Alexis get along?
We hit it off, really quick which was super nice because all my stuff was with her, first of all. And we were supposed to be best friends, so I think it definitely helped for the film. When we weren't filming, we'd usually hang out in between stuff and just goof around ... We bonded pretty quick and we're still good friends which is great. I love her, she's a goofball. Even like a day like today, it was so much better being able to do a ton of stuff with her ... I've always been lucky that everyone I've worked with on anything where I've gotten along with them pretty well. I can't imagine if like you didn't actually get along. It's like 'Gotta go to work and it's going to be work.'
You hear all these stories about cast members hating each other.
Yeah. I know. I hear all these stories and I've never experienced anything like that. And I'm just like I don't understand -- who are all these awful people who you get stuck with?
Do you prefer TV or movies?
I love my show dearly and I've been spoiled with it. It's such a great experience. All the movies I've worked on have been very different from each other, very different from my show. I think I just know that everything is going to be different ... If you only have a few expectations; they are going to be valid. There's going to be a camera and there's going to be other actors, besides that, you never know the vibe on the seat. Like maybe you'll get stuck with that person ... [who] just sucks at life. Or maybe it's going to be all sunshine and unicorns.
On 'Friday Night Lights,' your character – Matt Saracen – graduated from high school last season, but he will be back for the next. Do you know what's in store?
I just know I'm delivering pizza. That's all they've told me.
What do you want to see happen?
Good stuff ...They've always given me really good storylines. You know, there's so much that could happen between Julie [or] my grandmother. I don't know if my mother is going to be back or not and then my best friend Landry. I mean, there are so many opportunities for really good stories. I'm just excited to read the script and see what ends up happening.
Aimee Teegarden recently said she wanted Matt to take Julie to the prom. Can Saracen dance?
If you remember in season two there was a scene at a La Quinada ...or not a La Quinada. Quinceneara. What is wrong with me? Sorry, it's been a really long day. What is a La Quinada? I made it up. And I'm studying Spanish right now ...Anyway, there was a dance and [he] could clearly not dance.
Can you dance?
Yeah, I'm amazing. I'm going to be on 'Dancing With the Stars' next year.
Are you really?
Nooo. [sings] 'So You Think You Can Dance.'
Oh that's a good show.
I like 'So You Think You Can Dance.'
Do people think that you are much younger than you are because of the roles you play?
Not that you're old.
I think I'm younger than I am ... Yeah I guess people tend to think I'm younger than I am. And then when they get to know me, they really think I'm younger than I am.
But it helps.
Yeah, with the longevity of my career.
How much of you is in Matt Saracen?
I think we're pretty different in some ways. I think at our core, we're pretty solid. He's a little better of person than I am. He makes better decisions than I do. In case you can't tell, I think I'm a little more outgoing.
And goofy, and I don't have a southern accent. I'm a pretty caring person ... but he always seems to do the right thing.
He does. Sticking around to take care of his grandmother instead of going to school?
He's a good kid. So selfless. I always say nobody likes a martyr. But in his case, people do.
'Lights' gets phenomenal praise from critics, yet is never recognized at the Emmys or the Golden Globes. Is that hard on the cast?
Who cares if we don't get to go to a trophy ceremony? People who watch the show really really like it. And there are plenty of other shows that aren't recognized at certain award ceremonies, like 'The Wire,' which is one of the most amazing shows ... so we got over it pretty quick. We're really just happy to be making the show still.
What other are shows are you watching?
'Lost,' I'm obsessed with. I took a year and a half off of '24' but then I started again this year and was into it. 'Dexter' is amazing. What else do I watch? Oh, I watch 'So You Think You Can Dance,' 'Hell's Kitchen,' 'Survivor.' I watch some reality TV, I've got to admit.
You're not the only person who watches reality TV.
There's a reason why all of America watches it ... I watch 'America's Next Top Model.' [Laughs]. I like the ones that have an actual competition. I don't like just watching other people live their lives. Shows like ... I don't know.
'Jon & Kate Plus 8'?
Yeah no. Not going to happen. Not turning that on. It's like, I could go watch my neighbor live their life. If I really want to be a voyeur, I can stare through someone's window.
When you were younger did you play sports?
I played a ton of sports. I'm not the most physically built person so I wasn't going to be the big athlete, and all my friends were. I played basketball, football, volleyball, baseball and all that growing up. I love it, I still play anytime I can. I love playing basketball.
Which teams do you root for?
All Chicago teams. Except the Cubs, I hate the Cubs, I'm a White Sox fan. But yeah, the Bulls, the Bears. Oh my God. Last weekend, when the pre-season started, I watched the Bears' ... game. And even though half the people you're watching play aren't even going to be on the team ... there's something soothing about watching people in Bears' uniforms play.
People are really into the pre-season.
Yeah. I sat and watched for 4 hours. I was like so tired, I hadn't slept in days and I was like 'Gotta watch it, gotta watch it.
Football is important.
I love football.
What's next for you?
I have a movie coming out in November called 'Dare,' with Emmy Rossum and Ashley Springer. It's another kind of high-school drama, but it's a bit edgier than the stuff I've done before. I get to play a ... cockier kid in a way, which is cool. It's totally different than anything I've done before. And it was a lot of fun. It was at Sundance, it got received pretty well. So that's exciting. And then I'm going back to 'Friday Night Lights,' and I'll be there until about Thanksgiving. Then after that, who knows? Go on a really cool Christmas vacation and then hit the scene back in the new year and find some really cool new job.
Do you have a dream role?
It'd be cool ... to be the next 'Bourne.' It'd be cool to be an action hero, but I want to be that kind, where it's like more realistic. As much as I wouldn't mind fighting robots in 'Transformers,' I think it would be more fun to do the thing where it technically is realistic. No CGI. Like 'Taken' was such a cool movie.
I really liked that movie.
It was soo good. It was because, yeah it wasn't realistic. But it could happen.
Like the new James Bond. He doesn't have all those gadgets, he has his fists.
Yeah. Daniel Craig is pretty awesome ...I was never a Bond fan and then I saw his first one and I was like 'That dude's awesome. He's so pimp.'
How far can you throw a football?
I think my farthest throw was 45 yards. I might have gotten 50 once. It's not bad. I was proud of it.
Hey, you could probably QB for the Browns.
You guys have like 4 quarterbacks. Derek Anderson is dope. I would never have Brady Quinn, I don't know why you drafted him.
I don't either. But I'm not an expert.
Before we traded for Jay Cutler, every interview I did, people would be like 'Well you know, the Bears, if they asked you to play ...' and I was like 'I'm totally happy. Sign me up.'
Is that annoying, questions like that?
No, it's not annoying. I'll talk about the Bears all day ... Yes, I will play for the Bears ... What if they actually do think of asking me to play. I don't want to poo-poo that question. And for them to be like 'Oh no, he doesn't want to play, let's not even call.'
You could be a wide receiver, too, right?
Now, yeah. I'll teach Devin Hester the routes.
Well, thank you so much.
No, It was my pleasure, it was good talking to you.
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