Friday Night Lights: Zach Gilford, Aimee Teegarden

Bill Records/NBC

Friday Night Lights fans, don’t freak. No, the show wasn't on this week, but the boys in blue will be back soon—new eps begin Wednesday, Mar. 21 on NBC and are all new until the end of the season. Rah rah!

And to tide you over until then, I have some serious goodness on everyone's favorite FNL couple—Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor. I chatted with the actors who play them, Zach Gilford and Aimee Teegarden, and got to know what it's like to have an on-camera romance in front of a bleacher full of football fans.

First Kiss: Though the two are close offscreen—17-year-old Aimee says the 24-year-old Zach is like a big brother—neither was totally prepared for their onscreen intimacy. “During the pilot," explains Aimee, "[director] Pete Berg was making a joke about it, [saying] ‘Ha-ha, you guys are gonna be like boyfriend and girlfriend!’ because [offscreen] Zach’s kinda like my big-brother figure. As the scripts went on and [our characters became closer], Zach totally freaked out. He was like, ‘I have to kiss her?!’ He was out on the field doing jumping jacks before the first time!”

Gilford offers his version. “We get along great, but I’m a little bit older than her. She’s 17,” he says. “So, it’s weird having to cuddle with her, or whatever. Our first kiss was the most awkward thing. We have the same hundred or so extras down here in Austin, so everybody knows everybody, and they’re just waiting to see this kiss. They’re pretending not to be watching but are blatantly staring at the same time. Neither of us had kissed anyone on camera before, so we were both scared. The first one was really funny. We kind of missed each other's mouths!”  

Getting Comfortable:  Aimee tells me they’ve come a long way since that first on-set smooch. “Now it’s not so weird. It’s more of a common thing, I guess,” she says. Their characters seem to be getting more at ease as well. “It’s been very cool watching their relationship develop slowly,” Zach tells me. “In the beginning, he could barely form full sentences around her, and now they’re completely comfortable with each other.” 

The Next Level:  Though they were oh so close to sealing the deal just two short weeks ago, Zach and Aimee insist the physical relationship between Matt and Julie won’t be advancing anytime soon. “They kind of squared that [issue] away, and I think to keep going down that route would sort of be milking [the storyline],” Gilford explains. “No, now it’s more about moving it to the next level, comfort-wise, watching them develop and start to genuinely care about each other. They didn't grow up together, but they're kind of becoming adults together.” 

Their Future:  As we approach the playoffs of FNL’s freshman season, Zach and Aimee are both keeping their fingers crossed for a sophomore year. “We’re very hopeful right now,” Aimee says. “It’s such a great show, with critical acclaim. We’re growing in the ratings, which is exciting.” Zach is counting on NBC’s great track record for giving quality shows a chance to catch on. “The ratings for the first season of The Office [weren’t fantastic either], and I think that’s the funniest show on television. [NBC president] Kevin Reilly seems to be really behind us.” As for Matt and Julie’s relationship, the outlook is bright. “I think they are that high school couple that, you know, no matter what happens, they are kind of destined to be together in the end,” Aimee says. “I just hope we get the chance to see where their relationship goes.”  

—Additional reporting by Korbi Ghosh

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