BillyBobapalooza

Billy Bob's Filmography

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2004)

Distributor
Universal Pictures

Director
Peter Berg

Character
Coach Gary Gaines

Movie Quote:
COACH GAINES:  Gentlemen, the hopes and dreams of an entire town are resting on your shoulders. You may never matter more than you do right now.  It's time.

Latest News
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, which played in theaters to enthusiastic critical and audience acclaim (as well as solid box office), is now available on home video.  When we went to get our copy last week, the clerk at Best Buy told us the title was just flying out the door, and it is tracking to be the top-selling video in the country.

Plot
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist H.G. "Buzz Bissinger" wrote the non-fiction book Friday Night Lights, which examines the economically depressed town of Odessa, Texas and the one thing that the Odessans can truly rally around:  their famous high school football team, the Permian Panthers.  Over the course of one football season, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS chronicles how Coach Gary Gaines maneuvers his team of high school players through a challenging--but also very typical--season of high hopes, low economic expectations, undue pressure from local boosters, the heartaches that come with losses and injuries, and a chance at the championship against the scariest team of monster-sized players imaginable.  The team includes: hotshot running back Boobie Miles (played by Derek Luke) who is both beautiful and arrogant on and off the field; Don Billingsley (Garret Hedlund), who can't seem to please his violent and alcoholic father Charles (Tim McGraw); and quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), struggling to balance his schoolwork and playing career with caring for his sick mother.

What Billy Bob Gets To Do
Not counting his stint as a fictionalized James Carville in PRIMARY COLORS, this is Billy Bob's first film in which he plays a real-life figure who is still alive.  He plays Coach Gary Gaines, a man whose stewardship of the team puts him in the hot seat with the larger community.  In short, he gets to get his mojo up.

What Lucas Black Gets To Do
Lucas Black (SLING BLADE's little Frank) is now 20 years old and plays the Panthers' quarterback. From the looks of the trailer, our li'l Frank is all grown up and gets his first love scene!  Makes ya get kinda teary-eyed, don't it?

Backstory
Billy Bob is directed by Peter Berg, his costar in GOING OVERBOARD.  Along with Lucas Black, the team lineup for the film includes Tim McGraw (in his movie debut), Derek Luke (who never played football before signing on for this film), Jay Hernandez, Kevin Page (Micajah Autrey from THE ALAMO and one of the four bearers of the famous Alamo flag tattoo), and various real-life figures from the Permian Panthers' storied past (the real Boobie Miles is seen standing next to Derek Luke in several scenes).  

While preparing for the film, director Peter Berg witnessed a tragedy.  A player at a high school game Berg was attending was injured and left paralyzed by his injuries.  Berg, Billy Bob, and Tim McGraw joined forces to play a fundraising concert for the Gridiron Heroes, a group dedicated to helping out school football players who have suffered spinal cord injuries.  Ever the troopers, Billy Bob and Tim McGraw kept the show going in Austin (with a surprise appearance by Alice Cooper), despite a massive downpour in freezing weather.  (Thanks to Toby Keith for allowing Billy Bob's staff to take shelter in his trailer!)

The webmasters paid a visit to Permian Basin in Odessa to watch an exciting night shoot at Ratliff Stadium.  We got to see scrimmage à go-go, with the rival high school Midland Lee's outstanding marching band (they went to the Rose Parade in 2004), cheerleaders, mascots, and the pre-game coin flip.  Although Billy Bob was suffering from a killer migraine that evening, he rallied enough to shoot his scenes and toss a football with Jay Hernandez on the sidelines.  Billy Bob told us that one of the more amusing things he'd witnessed on the set was the Permian mascot--a gal in a blank panther costume--in full black cat regalia trying to tell Peter Berg how to frame a shot while he sat at his monitor.  "Even the panther wants to direct," Billy Bob grinned.

Interestingly, the real-life Gary Gaines has returned to Odessa to serve as the athletic director of the county school district.  At a special event in Odessa to celebrate the home video release of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Peter Berg got to meet Coach Gaines in person for the first time.

Special note: Peter Berg and Buzz Bissinger are cousins!  

To celebrate the release of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce awarded Billy Bob with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Awards (for FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS)
USC Scriptor Award (Peter Berg, Buzz Bissinger, David Aaron Cohen for screeplay) - 2005 -Nomination
ESPY Award - Best Film - 2005 - Winner

 

Relevant Links
IMDb Link
View the trailer
Yahoo movie page
The official Permian High School site--go Mojo!  Cute little running panther!
Actress Terri Sabol's great site from the sidelines!
Odessa Permian High football news
USA Today article on Ratliff Stadium
Here's a handy blog documenting the filming
Want to help the Gridiron Heroes help others?  Click here!
Tim McGraw's Official Site
Actress Katherine Willis' on-set photos, and she debunks a bit of press nonsense about BBT.

Related Merchandise
No doubt, you can score (oh yeah, pun intended) all sorts of Permian Panthers shirts and whatnot when visiting Odessa.  Otherwise, there's Buzz Bissinger's book.


BBT On DVD
DVD, which includes footage deleted from the final cut, will be reviewed by the Billybobapalooza staff oh-so-shortly!

Photo credit:  © 2004 Universal Pictures

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© 2005 by . . . Like the Wind Productions/Lonesome Rogues Design. This page is intended for entertainment and reference purposes only and is not intended to make a profit.  Film commentary reflects the opinions of the webmasters Amélie and Sage and not the opinions of Billy Bob Thornton or his representatives.