“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” is the line he made famous on the hit drama, “Friday Night Lights”. Would the show have been as popular without actor Kyle Chandler’s portrayal of beloved high school football coach Eric Taylor? Not likely. It was the combination of his southern drawl, fatherly wisdom and dedication to his players and family that drew viewers into his character. Fans formed a deep connection with him and that’s what kept them coming back week after week for five seasons.
And though, despite critical acclaim, the show went off the air in 2011, Chandler is still beloved and recognized on the street as the coach who stole the hearts of millions. But what has the hunky 57-year-old been up to lately?—and is there hope for a “Friday Night Lights” reboot? Here we take a look at Kyle Chandler’s fascinating past, present and future.
How did Kyle Chandler get into acting?
Kyle Chandler was born in Buffalo, New York on September 17, 1965. Growing up in Chicago, and later moving to a small farm in Loganville, Georgia, Chandler was – and still is – a die-hard Bears football fan. “My dad used to take me to Bears games and Cubs games.” It comes as no surprise that football was in his blood in some form or another.
As a freshman at George Walton Academy in Monroe, Georgia, Chandler was a member of the 1979 state championship football team. “I was a short, fat kid the first year and got the hell beat out of me. And the second year I was tall and skinny. That was the year my pop died. So that was the end of my football career,” he told Time.
Attending the University of Georgia, Chandler was a drama major. Just shy of seven credits before receiving a bachelor’s degree in drama, Chandler headed west at the request of ABC and became part of the company’s new talent program, making his TV film debut in 1988’s Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story.
Chandler’s breakthrough came in the early 1990s when he landed a role on the hit television series “Homefront”. This marked the beginning of a successful career in television, with memorable roles in shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Early Edition.”
Did Kyle Chandler have doubts about playing Coach Taylor?
Not everyone was initially on board with Chandler taking on the role in “Friday Night Lights” series — including executive producer Peter Berg and even Chandler himself. Luckily, both parties came around. Chandler quickly became one of Texas’ favorite coaches with a charming drawl, originally culled from his childhood in Georgia.
The beloved series takes place in a small town and follows the lives of the high school students, Coach Taylor, faculty and his family. Chandler won the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in the show’s final season. To this day, one of the most appealing aspects of the show is the reality of its portrayal of life and high school sports in far west Texas.
“There are a lot of parallels between being a coach, especially a high school coach, and being a dad,” Chandler told Men’s Health. “You’re not just telling your players how to hold a football or run a play, you’re sharing your essence with them. Like a father, you’re passing on the wisdom of life to these young people. You’re helping them figure out which mistakes to avoid, and how to react when the bad times happen. Minus the genetic connection, you are a father to these kids, and you want to help them succeed any way you can.”
Does Kyle Chandler have a wife and kids?
Chandler married Kathryn Macquarrie in 1995 after meeting her at a dog park in the mid 1990s. “We run into some tough arguments sometimes, but the idea is that at the end of the day, my wife and I realize that we’ll always be holding each other’s hand. I love the institution of marriage and I love my marriage,” he told Good Housekeeping. “My grandparents got married at a very young age, and a lot of what I think about marriage is based on their relationship. I watched them over the years and saw how they dealt with everything together, as a team.”
Additionally, the realistic representation of marriage between Chandler’s character and that of his wife, played by Connie Britton, is one of a kind. “Connie and I would improv every once in a while and I would also bring fights that my wife and I would have that were sort of unresolved, and I would create them again on the show,” Chandler hilariously relayed to Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show.
According to Chandler, his two daughters also dealt with a whole lot of Coach Taylor wisdom growing up. “I’ll tell you what, when we were shooting that show, my daughters at that time were in high school and grade school – there’s six years difference between the two of them. And I heard more than a few times, ‘Dad, just stop…I saw the episode, how embarrassing.’”
What is Kyle Chandler doing now?
Since Friday Night Lights ended 12 yeas ago, Chandler has taken on hit roles in Super 8, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and the Godzilla franchise, beginning in 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, following it up in 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong.
He is happy to have settled down, enjoying a more leisurely pace on his 33-acre Texas ranch after nearly 20 years living in Los Angeles’ Topanga Canyon, home to many artists who want to live under the radar. He and his family own several dogs and miniature donkeys. Daughter Sydney is an actress and Sawyer has joined forces with her dad in trying to end the practice of shark finning.
“I’ve been acting for 20 years, and I’m still under the radar, and that’s fine,” he says. “It lets me do what I really want, which is to be a good husband, a good father. I’m quite happy just plodding along,” he said. Chandler also serves as a volunteer firefighter and hasn’t left his love of football too far behind.
Chandler still supports his football roots by participating in an annual charity golf tournament to raise funds for football players who have spinal cord injuries. And when he just wants quiet time alone, Chandler takes to the highway on his motorcycle, or he’ll get behind the wheel of his Airbus and take to the road.
Because of his travels, he says “I’ve found that if something feels uncomfortable, do it. Stop at the weird café, talk to the person there.” But a word of advice from his wife: “Never go back. Never backward, always forward. Unless you left your wallet.”
Will Kyle Chandler be in a ‘Friday Night Lights’ reboot?
While there are rumors of the ‘FNL’ franchise being revived with a new movie and a spin off television series, Chandler will most likely not be a part of it. While he loves his fans and the years he spent working on the show, when asked by ETOnline if the nostalgia of the show makes him want to do a reboot, Chandler said a definitive, “No.”
But we aren’t giving up hope. In the meantime, Kyle Chandler will continue to enthrall us with his boyish good looks, charm and charisma, and we’ll just have to keep an eye out for him in his next film, Back in Action coming out later this year on Netflix.
Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years. Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living. She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for Women, Elle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva. Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content. She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.