With the premiere of Sunday night's Almost Human, which features actress Minka Kelly, we'll have yet another opportunity to see if one of the beloved kids of Friday Night Lights can make good in the post-Dillon years. (The grownups have done fine.) We've some reason to wonder, as the industry has not been kind to a lot of our old friends. Is there a Friday Night Lights curse? Let's take a look.
As the brooding, beautiful wounded angel Tim Riggins, Kitsch made quite an impression, winning hearts with his soulful pouting and bad-boy-gone-good character arc. Unfortunately, it turns out that it was a good thing that Tim was a man of few words, because when Kitsch, a former Abercrombie & Fitch model, got the inevitable movie star push and appeared in films like X: Men Origins: Wolverine, John Carter, Battleship, and Savages, he proved to be maybe not quite as artistically gifted as he is aesthetically. Both John Carter and Battleship were epic flops, while Savages was widely mocked (a bit unfairly, in our opinion), putting Kitsch's once-promising career in serious jeopardy. He's got a few more chances to prove himself, in the upcoming Lone Survivor and HBO's adaptation of The Normal Heart (directed by Ryan Murphy, ugh), but if those don't go well, we could be looking at a flame-out bigger than Texas.
Charming, talented, and crazy gorgeous, Palicki breathed incredible life into Tyra Collette, the wrong-side-of-the-tracks girl with secret smarts and tenacity. She seemed destined for great things when she ended her run on Friday Night Lights, but then came her next project, another Texas-set drama called Lone Star, which was quickly canceled despite critical approval. She had a role in the Red Dawn remake that was shelved for ages, and of course there was David E. Kelley's scuttled Wonder Woman pilot which never saw the light of day, though unfortunately some embarrassing set photos did. Palicki, who was in G.I. Joe: Retaliation this year, has a couple of upcoming projects listed on her IMDb, among them a thriller with Keanu Reeves, but we fear that this eminently likable actress may have been permanently hobbled by whatever poltergeist is plaguing the FNL kids.
Gilford made many FNL fans swoon playing huggable-cute boyfriend-next-door Matt Saracen, though he also showed plenty of weighty seriousness in episodes like "The Son." Sadly, things have not been good for Gilford in recent years. Both of his attempts at new series, Off the Map and Mob Doctor, were quickly canceled flops, and the 2010 pilot Matadors, a modern version of Romeo & Juliet, never made it to air. On the big screen, Gilford has appeared in a string of forgettable B-movies and that's about it. What's wrong with this world, when someone as lovable as Matt Saracen can't find decent work in Hollywood? This can only be the work of some dark force.
When not grabbing headlines for bad airplane behavior, Kelly, who played soulful teen queen Lyla Garrity on FNL, has spent her post-Dillon years doing junky stuff with a few respectable gigs here and there. She appeared on several episodes of the much-adored Parenthood, before doing a short stint on the reviled and swiftly axed Charlie's Angels reboot. She made a blink-and-you-missed-it appearance in The Butler, as Jackie Kennedy, and is now set to appear on Almost Human, a hokey and not terribly engaging sci-fi yarn in which she rather unconvincingly plays a cop. So, it's been a mixed bag. But the fact that she dated Derek Jeter, a Yankee of all things, really proves that some curse is at work.
This is where things start to turn a corner. After he ended his run as Jason Street on Friday Night Lights, Porter did an arc on CBS's excellent The Good Wife and appeared in the likable high school reunion indie 10 Years. He's now gainfully, if not terribly fruitfully, employed on The CW's Hart of Dixie, playing the occasional love interest of Rachel Bilson's character. So, he's working, but... y'know.
After two seasons of playing star running back Smash Williams, Charles went on to do a few episodes of another show about football, Necessary Roughness, before landing a good gig on Grey's Anatomy, where he's been since last year. So, not bad, but not great. Grey's Anatomy has been on forever! Not a terrific place from which to launch a campaign for true stardom.
Who would have guessed that goofy Landry would have this much success? Though, I guess that's a relative term. Charles's 32 episodes of Grey's Anatomy have probably made him more money than Plemons's gigs in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master and on the final season of Breaking Bad did, but artistic cred-wise, Plemons is doing just fine. (We'll let his supporting role in Battleship slide. Work's work.) And it's paying off with upcoming work in that vein: His next two projects are films directed by Tommy Lee Jones and Stephen Frears. Good on you, Landry.
Michael B. Jordan
Yeah, OK, he's doing well. He's doing really well.