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Look out for more coverage of
Friday Night Lights in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Friday Night Lights

THE STARS:
Billy Bob Thornton • Tim McGraw • Derek Luke
DIRECTOR: Peter Berg

Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) THE CONCEPT:
True story set in Odessa, Texas, about a heroic high school football team, the Permian High Panthers, playing for the State championship.

U.S. RELEASE: October 8 2004, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13

THE COMMENTS:

BILLY BOB THORNTON (Coach Gary Gaines):
“You don’t have to be a football fan to like this movie, because the film is about people’s hopes and dreams becoming obsession and becoming so narrow that you have no future if something happens to them. So I think it’s a pretty universal theme, and it’s not like football’s that hard to figure out.”

TIM McGRAW (Charles Billingsley):
“I didn’t meet any of the real characters from the movie, but I saw one high school picture of Charlie that was on the wall in the house we were shooting at, and that’s as close to Charlie as I got. I think Pete [Berg] wanted it that way too, he didn’t want me to find out everything I could about Charlie. I think he wanted it to be about the character that was written for this script in this movie.”

DEREK LUKE (Boobie Miles) on the fact that the person he was portraying was always on the set:
“Mostly every major scene I had was done in Odessa, and the real Boobie Miles was on the set almost every day. When Boobie was there it was awkward but, at the same time, he was there when Coach Gaines, played by Billy Bob, was giving those speeches, and I was reacting to Boobie’s reaction, because the camera was panning back and forth. I saw him getting emotional and sometimes he would leave the room. So it made me look at the character in a new perspective.”

McGRAW on seeing himself in the mov:
“I told Pete I didn’t want to see the movie until the premiere. Everybody said how good it was and that the character had turned out well, so I thought I would just live with that for awhile until I had to see it and ruin my impression. But Pete wanted me to see it and they set up a screening, and my wife Faith (Hill) was there, and I just stayed outside and finally Pete had to come out and tell me, ‘We’ve really got to get this started.’ So I went into see it, and I was really nervous, but as soon as the movie started it was so good that my scenes just rolled by before I realized it.”

THORNTON:
“I think sports’ movies inherently are made for the cinema because you have built in drama, a ticking clock of some sort, and to see a sporting event as a backdrop to a movie, you’re seeing two things, you’re seeing the sporting event and movie at the same time, just like when you go see a football game, it’s almost like you’re watching a movie. So I think those two are a pretty good marriage, which is why I think sports’ movies tend to do okay.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Friday Night Lights site
Images above © Universal Pictures
Feature © 2004 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #649, October 2004 cover

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