Both Hedlund and Thompson Young seemed to be having a great time working the red carpet at the World Premiere of "Friday Night Lights." They responded to questions and posed for photos like they'd been doing this whole thing for years. I had the chance to grab a few minutes with Hedlund and Thompson Young and took the opportunity to find out what it was like working on such a big film:
INTERVIEW WITH GARRETT HEDLUND ('Don Billingsley'):
You’re in two big movies this year – “Troy” and “Friday Night Lights.” Are you ready to do something a little smaller, maybe an indie film?
Yeah, I’d love to. I really kind of strive for character roles, and if it happens to be an indie film or it happens to be a bigger film, whichever allows me to perform I would love to do.
Was it tougher to prepare mentally or physically for this role?
I think more physically. I got to a physical state that I’d never been to before. I played football, I wrestled, I ran cross-country, so I was always a pencil. I was always a string bean. I really gained a lot of weight for this. And post-“Troy” weight, I kept that on. I had to gain 30 pounds for “Troy” and then I gained another 20 for this. I was up to 200 pounds when I’d usually been 145. Having that weight on, emotionally it affects you when you look in the mirror every day and you see rolls that weren’t there before. It definitely really helped.
I wanted to get to the physical [build] of the average footballer who’s not necessarily fit like a supermodel and who’s definitely emotionally passionate about the game, and to really portray your average high school [player].
What was it like working with Tim McGraw? You two shared some pretty emotional scenes.
Tim was great and he really knocked this out of the park being his first film. It was a pleasure for me because I grew up with Tim filling the radio stations. I grew up on a farm in Minnesota and he was all over the air. We had one radio station and it was country. Faith [Hill] had even brought Tim out on stage one year when she played at our county fair. The town’s like 2,500 so for me to go from the farm and to come out here and be in a film with him, it was a pleasure.
What was it like filming in Texas?
Odessa wasn’t as small as my hometown. It was like 98,000 times bigger (laughing). But it helps with your mental state and your mental strength for your character. Being out there was a lot more helpful than being in a studio and trying to pretend it was Texas.
Do you know any coaches in real life who are like Billy Bob Thornton’s character?
I think every coach out there is kind of like Billy Bob’s character. I think he really did a great job at portraying a character that a coach out there will empathize with and relate to, and a coach that a lot of players will recognize.
Do you think people who don’t enjoy the sport of football will still enjoy this movie?
Yes. It’s really a film that I think touches a lot of people and there’s emotion in it and there’s brilliant, happy moments in there. I think people will like it – I love it.
INTERVIEW WITH LEE THOMPSON YOUNG ('Chris Comer'):
Can you compare the physical training to your mental preparation for this role?
It was a lot of physical but it almost went into the mental because you had to have your mind prepared to do three hours of football before lunch and three hours after. That’s an experience I never had before. So the physical required a lot of mental, if that makes sense.
Did Billy Bob Thornton really get into that coaching character?
He did. He was kind of a coach all the time. He was a coach to all the young guys but he also keeps a light-hearted attitude on the set. He likes to crack a lot of jokes and stuff, too. But it’s funny because he can switch it on and become really focused right away. That’s just his style.
Did you take your own hits?
There’s some hits that my character takes where he goes up in the air and does 360 degrees and then gets slammed – I didn’t do that. I did not do that. I did get run over a couple of times.
Did you get injured?
Yeah, I injured my foot just running sprints and stuff. I had a little tendonitis in my foot, which made it hard to practice. But I got over it (laughing).
Was Chris Comer the character you wanted to play when you initially read the script?
Well, I had never played football before so they sent me the script and I was like, “I don’t even know who I play.” But that character is perfect for me in so many ways. He’s like third string and he comes in to play. You know, it’s my first movie so it’s kind of like getting the chance to do something great.