While nothing can completely fill the void left in our hearts by the 2011 finale of Friday Night Lights, a lengthy profile of Connie Britton — A.K.A. Tami Taylor — in New York Times Magazine certainly makes an honorable attempt at it. If you're worried that reading it will ruin the magical lofty expectations that you hold of Britton in your head, don't sweat it. She's as devoted to Tami as you are:
The show ended after five years, and walking away from the role turned out to be wrenching for Britton. "I'm still just in denial and having an identity crisis," Britton told her friend Chelsea Handler on her talk show, shortly after shooting the last episode. " 'Cause who am I, if I'm not Tami Taylor?" Britton gave an elaborate shrug.
"I really wasn't kidding in that moment," Britton says now. "I felt a sense of responsibility to that character." She and her co-star, Kyle Chandler, had long conversations about how they would help each other make choices, moving forward, that reflected the values that earned them such fan loyalty on the show. "But you have to go somewhere," Britton said.
(Emphasis added because the idea of Chandler and Britton having long conversations makes me go weak in the knees.)
Turns out that Britton had played a big hand in turning Tami Taylor from a one-dimensional bleacher wife into the fully developed paragon of womanhood that we now know and love:
In the first episode, she played a stay-at-home mom pining for a bigger house; by the third season, she was the school principal - her husband's boss. Britton said she was "rabid" about holding the producers to their promise that her character would do more than just cheer on her husband from the bleachers, "Connie doesn't lie dormant very well," [Friday Night Light's director Jeff] Reiner says. "You have to give her something to do. She was inspiring, and sometimes she could be a pain."
Turns out, she's just as much of an awesome pain on her new show Nashville where she plays struggling country star Rayna James. Britton often gives writers and creators a hard time for depicting her character's age (a whopping 40) in a negative light:
No, she told the director of the pilot, she would rather not stare at her face in the mirror and pull it back aggressively to see what she would look like with a face-lift. She was uncomfortable with what that bit of direction implied about the character's self-doubt. In the final take, which follows bad news from Rayna's managers about her most recent record release, Britton does stare at herself in the mirror, and she does massage her face; but the scene registers emotions - fatigue, confusion - as opposed to the simulation of plastic surgery, a more interesting moment, as well as one she found less insulting.
As for her own life, Britton, 45, says, "That's not even who I represent as an actor. My life started being awesome five years ago."