Actress Adrianne Palicki is best known for playing Tyra Collette in the first three seasons of NBC’s Friday Night Lights. She currently stars in Fox’s The Orville—a sci-fi dramedy from Seth McFarlane that was recently picked up for a third season, and her film career includes turns in Legion, Red Dawn, and John Wick. Although she was supposed to star in a much-anticipated 2011 reboot of Wonder Woman for NBC that never got beyond the pilot, she’s strung together a run of other sci-fi and comic-related roles, including parts on Smallville, Supernatural, and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Palicki lives in Austin when she’s not filming The Orville, and in our conversation she discusses the Friday Night Lights revival she expects might never come to pass, her new marriage to Orville co-star Scott Grimes, #metoo, and the roles that got away.
Three takeaways from her appearance on the National Podcast of Texas:
1. Palicki left Friday Night Lights after the third season because it served the show and the character she played, not necessarily her career.
“Jason Katims (Friday Night Light’s head writer and executive producer) called me and said he was struggling: ‘Does Tyra go to college, or do you stay on the show?’ He said he was really torn and wanted me to help him with the decision. And I’ll be honest with you, I’d still be on that show if it were going right now. But as a character, I cared about Tyra so much. And she worked so hard. Think about all the girls out there. I’ve been at the Whole Foods here and had girls come up to me and say they’re going to college because Tyra did. That was a pivotal thing for somebody on her side of the tracks that worked that hard to do that. If she had failed, it would just kind of felt like it would all be in vain. It was heartbreaking to have to leave, but it was the right choice.”
2. She believes the emotional connection fans have with the characters of Friday Night Lights stems in part from the freedom creator Peter Berg and head writer Jason Katims gave the actors.
“People feel connected because the characters feel so realistic. At the very beginning, Peter sat the cast down with Jason at dinner and said, ‘You as a writer are going to have a say, and you as the actor are going to have a say. And I want you guys to collaborate and work it out.’ And so they’d tell us by whispering in our ear, ‘Say this to this character.’ And you say it. And then all of a sudden the scene takes on a whole new perspective. And that’s what happened. That’s why these scenes were so epic. That we had the rare chance to develop those characters with the writers makes it feel more organic and more realistic. And I think that translated.”
3. She thinks it’ll never happen, but she’s not beyond floating her own fan-fiction treatment for Friday Night Lights: The Next Generation.
“Taylor Kitsch’s character, Riggins, is still in Dillon, Texas, and married to Tyra. They’re a messed-up version of Coach and Tammy, cause he’s still Riggs. But he’s coaching, and she’s now the counselor. She came back from the University of Texas. Could you imagine? That’d be so fun. You’d have Billy Riggins, and you’d still have Mindy. You’d still have a bunch of the characters, even probably Buddy Garrity still there running Buddy’s. It’s the next evolution.”