Kyle's Career Filmstrip: TV Series and Movies

Mar 31, 2015

‘Bloodline’ Gets Second Season at Netflix

Bloodline Renewed Season 2 Netflix
Image courtesy of Netflix

Netflix has renewed freshman thriller “Bloodline” for a second season, the streaming service announced Tuesday.

Season 2 goes into production later this year, and is set for a 2016 release on Netflix.

“Bloodline” stars Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Norbert Leo Butz, Jamie McShane, Jacinda Barrett and Enrique Murciano.

The drama follows the Rayburns, as the eldest brother and black sheep of the family (Mendelsohn) returns home to expose the family’s emotional demons, threatening to tear them apart.

The series hails from the team behind “Damages,” creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and

BLOODLINE Season One Review: Ancestral Beasts of Burden

Jacob Knight reviews the first season of Netflix's potboiler family drama. 
BLOODLINE Season One Review: Ancestral Beasts of Burden

A ukulele tune is carried on the wind, its notes drifting with the breeze. Swirling about the song are memories; ghosts of those who left the shores of this idyllic Florida beach long ago, the Atlantic lapping up the sand behind them. An old Inn sits just beyond the coastline, nestled amongst perfectly manicured tall grass and shading palms, its rooms shared by many guests and owned by a sole hospitality dynasty. The Rayburns are the Lears around this mildly unsophisticated neck of the woods, harboring bloody secrets that threaten to tear their clan asunder. Riding in on a Greyhound is Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), the eldest and keeper of the key to his family’s personal Pandora’s box.

And this time, he thinks he’s going to stick around for a bit.
Bloodline, the latest in Netflix’s increasingly long line of original programming, is a peculiar animal. At once a sunburnt, melancholic take on the frayed ties that bind, and a steamy, pulp noir not far removed from Elmore Leonard or Charles Willeford (without showcasing the overt eccentricities of either author), the show strives to provide mellow thematic exploration before potboiler thrills. Masterminded by the creators of FX’s oft-overlooked legal drama Damages (Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman), it’s an actors showcase sporting a near perfect cast. Each Rayburn sibling fits into a universal mold – the caretaker peace officer (Kyle Chandler); the hotheaded bully (Norbert Leo Butz); the resourceful, sexpot sister (Linda Cardellini); the black sheep (Mendelsohn).

Overseeing them all is a hangdog patriarch (Sam Shepard) and his doting wife (Sissy Spacek), beaming with pride for three children and terrified by one. Together they form a unit, but it’s the individual performances that keep the Rayburns from becoming stock cutouts, as they bounce off of one another with a ramshackle naturalism that clashes with their sunny surroundings.

Donning design by legendary Sopranos art director Scott Murphy, the Florida scenery of Bloodine carries all the comfort of a familiar beach home. This tranquility works to disarm the viewer for the series' slow build of fatalistic dread (which doesn’t exactly lend itself to “bingeing,” as there’s so much to digest). We feel welcome in the Rayburns’ home; their decades-old hotel a perfect spot to celebrate a honeymoon or hide a gaggle of skeletons, literal and figurative. Directed by a roster of HBO series titans (which includes Ed Bianchi and Daniel Attias) with a few notable guest spots (it's nice to see Carl Franklin's name on another Southern Gothic crime story), this Coastal vibe bleeds into the thriller aspects of the show quite nicely, adding an ophthalmic pop to the proceedings. One man carrying another's limp body through a marsh while both are clad in seersucker is a detail that only deepens the show's roots in Deep South mythology, never letting us escape the humid, homicidal climate.

Sissy Spacek has numerous splendid performances under her belt, ranging from her early work as a doe-eyed jailbait temptress in Michael Ritchie’s Prime Cut and Terrence Malick’s Badlands, to the dutiful yet demanding wife of conspiracy-obsessed lawyer Jim Garrison in JFK. With Bloodline, Spacek’s holding down a burning fort the same way she did in Todd Field’s Virgin Spring riff, In the Bedroom. There’s a security and grace she brings to matriarch Sally Rayburn that is balanced by a world-weary sadness. She is happy that her family is together in one place again after Danny comes home, working to quash whatever beefs brewed between the boys, as her daughter, Meg (Cardellini), climbs the corporate ladder. Her early scenes with Shepard radiate soothing, lived-in warmth, as the two parents hope that all is forgiven between their children.

But there’s also a distinct self-doubt that Sally may have failed a few times along the way whilst raising her brood. It’s no wonder her entire professional life has been geared toward creating a nest away from reality for other clans to vacation. She welcomes with open arms an idealistic happiness that can only be manufactured in a foldout chair by the sea, free from the stress and burden of everyday domestic trials. The Inn’s patrons all become Sally’s adopted children, smiling with clear eyes and full hearts. Meanwhile, her true flesh and blood plot to destroy each other, maneuvering with the cautious menace of hyenas.

Kyle Chandler has the busiest eyes in modern show business. Their now-patented squint and flicker are put to great use for the entirety of the first thirteen episodes of Bloodline. Whether his John Rayburn is staring at the charred remains of an immigration ferry or at the leathered countenances of his brothers' mugs, they alert you to the fact that the actor is always aware of his surroundings. Chandler is one of the great listeners in cinematic history. Watching him study and soak in a fellow performer's work is a joy to behold, as he masters the art of measured retort. To cite Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights seems like it's doing the actor a disservice. The DNA of the Dillon Panthers coach is indubitably present (Chandler does a dad's disappointment better than just about anyone, alive or dead), but John Rayburn is his own man; a fully realized character added to the actor's growing, impressive canon.

Norbert Leo Butz possibly has the most difficult task of all, as Kevin Rayburn comes close to becoming a familial drama cliché. The middle child is the callous hot head – a blue-collar boat expert with a hair-trigger temper. A good ol' Florida Boy who is scared that the beautiful coastline his parents' Inn helped define will be overtaken by condos and country clubs, Butz connects with the gloomy desperation that is often found in beachfront lifers. His is an existence of beers, old t-shirts and rough palms from a life spent keeping fishing vessels and pleasure cruisers afloat.

It'd be easy to write off Kevin as a poorly conceived archetype but, every time he threatens to tip over into exaggeration, Butz pulls off a beguilingly soft moment, usually with estranged wife Belle (Katie Finneran, whom horror nerds will likely recognize from Tom Savini's Night of the Living Dead remake). Were it not for Belle, it wouldn't be difficult to picture Kevin going the washed up way of Butchie Yost in David Milch's unceremoniously cancelled John From Cincinnati; a needle in his arm on the floor of a dilapidated surfer spot. Where John struggles with keeping the Rayburns from killing each other, Kevin's biggest battle is one that rages inside his soul. He's the kid who refused to leave the beach once the sun went down, riding out a wave of alcoholism, cocaine and DIY nostalgia, never wanting his home to change with the times.

However good Butz is, the real stunner in Bloodline is Ben Mendelsohn. Many will recognize the Australian actor from his tiny part in The Dark Knight Rises, but Mendelsohn has quietly become the closest thing this generation has to a Warren Oates. His grime-smeared gutter rats in Place Beyond the Pines and Killing Them Softly are broken men who work outside the law. Just as Bennie’s suit becomes filthier and filthier over the course of Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Mendelsohn isn’t afraid to smear the dirt of his characters’ past mistakes all over his oily body. But Danny Rayburn is the first time the actor has been placed in such a prominent position, and Mendelsohn recognizes the opportunity to exhibit his New Hollywood-harkening performance style.

The most reductive view of acting is that of a series of choices, purposefully executed in order to build a fictional human being. But Mendelsohn inhabits his characters in a way that feels otherworldly, harnessing their essence effortlessly. Just as Oates could devastate you by silently sliding his paw across a porch to touch a heartbroken woman’s foot (as he does in Peter Fonda’s exemplary Western, The Hired Hand), Mendelsohn slyly manipulates both his family and the audience with tiny gestures, posture and cadence. But where Oates always kept the viewer’s sympathies in check with his commitment to portraits of lovable losers, Mendelsohn reels you in and then cuts your throat. Danny is a murderous big game fisherman, always baiting and then fileting his catch’s dead corpse. It’s a masterful performance that’s destined to go down in the pantheon of wondrous screen villains.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment Bloodline achieves is that, amongst the backstabbing, sleeping around and outright murder, it captures the intimacy that comes from being bonded by blood to people you may not necessarily like under any other circumstance. But because they're "family," one learns to look past the very worst traits their kin possess because the same flesh is wrapped around their bones, too. There's an affection for devotion Bloodline displays that feels real and true; from the forgiveness of harsh words said in haste, to the comfort of just feeling a loved one's arm draped around your shoulder while sharing a beer after everyone else has turned it in for the day. Second, third and fourth chances are earned in these moments, no matter how many times those closest have fucked up or hurt you. Yes, there's a pulp construct built around this fraternal core, but it's this soulful spirit that sticks with the viewer long after they've finished these thirteen engrossing episodes.

If there’s a major criticism to be lobbed at the show, it’s that once the story veers into genre television trappings it begins to drag a bit until the requisite explosive finale (and somewhat half-assed twist). Meg’s redemptive journey into becoming a local defense attorney for one of the family’s wayward ex-employees feels like it undercuts Cardellini’s attempts to save the show’s only underdeveloped character. The woman’s major crime is one of blind patriarchal trust, which flies in the face of her otherwise resilient nature. Meanwhile, John’s trailing of a group of human traffickers picks up steam only once its connection to the main through-line is revealed. Both of these more traditional narrative threads feel like the creators not fully trusting the central ancestral mysteries they’ve woven. These are sizable quibbles, but also easily dismissible when compared to the rest of the first season’s impressive emotional heft. Plus, watching Danny become something of a beach bum Iago is never less than captivating, as Mendelsohn relishes playing an evil puppet master with lecherous glee.

Bloodline often moves like a cinematic memory painting, recalling John Sayles’ Texas masterwork Lone Star. Characters drift in and out of their own hazy recollections, sometimes letting them wash over in an uncontrollable fog. Living and dead, past and present – all of these things are often indistinguishable from one another, swirling together in a cacophony of Proustian heartache.

There’s an indelible despondency that permeates the show’s frames, perfectly capturing the way family both believes in and fears one another. These are the people you’re stuck with, and sometimes, in order for the unit to survive throughout generations, sacrifices must be made. Lies are told to cover up crimes, tossed like verbal dirt on top of domestic casualties. However, the central question at the heart of Bloodline ultimately seems to be: how many loving ghosts can we live with before we become truly haunted? Netflix’s newest original may also be its very best, as Bloodline is unquestionably the streaming network’s most ecstatically truthful.

Mar 28, 2015

5 Things We Love Right Now

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• From your phone — live

Forget uploading Web videos. Two live streaming apps — Twitter’s Periscope released Thursday and Meerkat at SXSW earlier this month — are upending social media. Broadcast from your phone whatever you’re doing right now or capture breaking news — as onlookers did Thursday of New York City’s building collapse. Periscope has the added advantage of saving streams to play later.
Unlike earlier attempts with live streaming, these apps are gaining traction, particularly among celebs. Bring on the live cat videos!

• Women & Biking

Bike PGH and Carnegie Mellon University host their second Women & Biking forum today on campus at Porter Hall in Oakland. Keynote speakers are Ren Barger, CEO of Oklahoma’s social service project Tulsa Hub, and Pittsburgh’s Monica Garrison, founder of

There will be six sessions such as “Getting to Know Your Bike” and “Responding to Bikelash.” There will be a casual ride at 3:15 p.m. for all interested. Admission is $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers. For details:

• For Richard Armitage, the play’s the thing

Mr. Armitage — “The Hobbit’s” Thorin Oakenshield and future "Hannibal" villain — last year was acting up a storm in “The Crucible” at the Old Vic, an acclaimed production that was filmed for screens in the UK but never made it across the pond. Now see the play in the privacy of your home courtesy of Digital Theatre, a website that offers rent-or-buy downloads of theater, opera and musical performances. Cost is $8.99 to rent or $12.99 to buy ($15.99 for HD) at

• ‘Sound Advice’ with Janessa Slater

“Saturday Night Live” standout Vanessa Bayer hosts the fake Web show, “Sound Advice.” Her suggestions and insights are always terrible. The humor is in the same vein as “Between Two Ferns” — awkward, more offensive than the Zach Galifianakis series — and the Slater-Kinney episode is a particular treat.

Binge watch ‘Bloodline’

Ready for some intense family drama, acted by an insanely talented cast? Catch up on “Bloodline,” which debuted all 13 episodes March 20 on Netflix (also in 4K for those lucky folks with top-of-the-line TVs).

Set in the Florida Keys, “Bloodline” follows the Rayburns as black sheep son Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) returns home. Mom (Sissy Spacek) and Dad (Sam Shepard) head a successful clan torn by secrets (“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.”) The last minute of the pilot is a shocker, all right.

The cast includes Kyle Chandler, Norbert Leo Butz, Linda Cardellini and Chloe Sevigny.

-- Compiled by Maria Sciullo, Sharon Eberson and Virginia Linn

Mar 23, 2015

New Netflix drama ‘Bloodline’ masters the slow-burn family tragedy


Every picture-perfect family has its issues. What might look like an advertisement for the “American Dream” is typically a façade. The Rayburns, a well-off Florida family who operates a scenic Florida Keys inn, are no exception to the rule.

“Bloodline,” the latest in Netflix’s excellent lineup of original series, re-establishes the importance of a good old fashioned slow-burn. The initial episodes crawl — only hinting at the hurricane of trouble headed for the Rayburn lineage.

But fragmented leaks of disturbing flash-forwards and ambiguous narration from the family’s designated arbitrator John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) will entice anyone curious to continue watching.
The moment eldest brother Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn) arrives at his parents’ 45th anniversary party, an arduous chain reaction is set in motion that threatens the very core of a family renowned within its community.

John and Danny exist as antitheses to each other. John is a stoic detective of sound mind and a dedicated loyalist to his blood. Danny is the Rayburn problem-child who remains estranged until he either needs to borrow money or refuge from poor life choices.

Danny’s persona teeters between ominous and lovable – his childhood is littered with repressed memories that haunt his thoughts. Robert Rayburn (Sam Shepard) is a scornful father with a checkered record of parenting. His infamous temper has always homed in on Danny and a tragic loss has imprinted an insatiable animosity that still boils over three decades later.

Sissy Spacek is Sally, the seemingly innocent mother in denial of her family’s closeted skeletons. Danny’s arrival has his compassionate mother optimistic. He claims to be reformed man — returning to the family business only to help out.

Skeptical and dismissive, Robert delegates the decision of letting Danny stay with his three children, Meg (Linda Cardellini), Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and John. The Rayburns spend much of the series brooding over Danny’s return and whether his newfound attitude is genuine or a ruse.

“Bloodline” follows a deliberately gradual pace. Todd Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman are the show’s creators who refine their disjointed timeline and cliffhanger style from the equally plodding series “Damages” they created before.

The 13-episode series is a relentlessly dark, tantalizing tale of unravelling family drama that seats the Rayburns amongst the greatest of dysfunctional television families.

Visually, “Bloodline” authentically emulates the sticky humidity of the Florida swamplands and its inhabitants. Every character is coated in sweat and dressed to deal with it. The direction style accentuates the nuanced and emotion and subtle plot developments with purpose.

While the dialogue never strives as the show’s strong point, each cast member elevates the script with visceral and top-notch performances.

Mendelsohn and Chandler emanate an electric chemistry as brothers conflicted. Two-time Tony Award winner Butz is both fierce and vulnerable in a way few actors manage. There isn’t a dud in the bunch and every episode is a lesson in how to generate a sensational cast.

Exemplary performances can only carry a plot so far though, meaning patience is key with “Bloodline.” There are long stretches of character development and soft conversations. Fans of breakneck shows like “American Horror Story” beware, “Bloodline” demands a level focus and composure rarely asked of audiences nowadays.

Perhaps “Bloodline” might have benefited from tightening to a 10-episode formula. Either way, the creators should be lauded for taking a risk like this in today’s market for television dramas.
Witnessing the Rayburns’ sanity disintegrate is a fascinating ordeal. The ebb and flow of emotion is taxing to watch and when season one concludes you can’t help but feel terribly conflicted about the whole odyssey.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about “Bloodline.” So much of it has been done before. But a series that manages to wrangle first-rate acting, stunning visuals, thick plot lines and tension into a taut package is no small feat.

But therein lays the beauty of mastering the slow-burn — allotting time for a hefty narrative to layer itself with nigh tangible amounts of tension is a bold move from the “Bloodline” creators that will hopefully carry over into season two.

Tell the reporter about your “Bloodline” opinion at or follow @Bigtonemeaty on Twitter.

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Kyle Chandler & Ben Mendelsohn ('Bloodline') talk sibling rivalry, sea l...

Kyle Chandler & Ben Mendelsohn ('Bloodline') on sibling rivalry, sea lice and swimsuit models [Exclusive Video]

kyle chandler ben mendelsohn bloodline
Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn play estranged brothers in Netflix's family drama "Bloodline," which premiered its first season on March 20. Chandler is John Rayburn, an upstanding county sheriff in the Florida Keys, and Mendelsohn is Danny Rayburn, the outcast black sheep whose return throws the family into chaos.

There's no shortage of conflict between the members of the Rayburn family, but there's also "a competitive spirit on set" that Chandler enjoys. He explains, "It is a sport. We're allowed to play with the words and play with the meanings. We're asked to do different things with these scenes, so there's a competitiveness. It's like duking it out with other actors."

But Chandler and Mendelsohn weren't just battling each other. They also battled the elements in the show's humid Florida Keys locale. Says Chandler of filming an especially grueling scene, "That brackish swamp water, you know what that stuff tastes like? Something I just cannot say on camera.
 There's something else people may not know about … No one tells you about the sea lice. What is a sea lice? Little tiny microorganisms that after about a half an hour feel like someone's sticking pins in you all over the place."

"You know that stuff going in," Mendelsohn adds about the physically challenging shoot. "As an actor, you'll accept a lot of discomfort if you feel like what's going to be left is good."
But Florida has its perks. Chandler recalls a unique coconut tree on location that grows horizontally for "about 20 or 30 feet … we looked out and there's all these beautiful girls down there laying on this tree. That's the famous tree that you see all the swimsuit models [posing on], and it's just 150 yards down the street from our house. That was a benefit of the Keys right there … It made up for the sea lice, I'll tell you that."

Watch our complete interview below. If you think Chandler and Mendelsohn will make the cut for Best Drama Actor and Best Drama Supporting Actor, respectively, make your predictions below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Click here to make your predictions in other top Emmy races.
Best predictions will win $1,000. And the 24 Users with the best scores advance to a team to compete against our Experts and Editors next year. Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Emmys last year – and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar. Register/log in to your account so you can also compete to predict "The Walking Dead," "Survivor," "The Amazing Race," "Dancing with the Stars, "American Idol" and more.

Mar 22, 2015

Bloodline (NETFLIX) Season 1 review

Book Of Fears - The Water Let's You In (Bloodline Theme)

The Theme From Bloodline!!

The Water Lets You In by Book of Fears:

Kyle Chandler & Ben Mendelsohn on 'Full Contact' Acting in 'Bloodline'

"I'm not going to share any stories because I don't remember half of them and the rest are too dirty to talk about."

By Ben Travers | Indiewire March 21, 2015 at 10:00AM

"Bloodline" Kyle Chandler Netflix
Saeed Ayani/Netflix Kyle Chandler in "Bloodline"
Kyle Chandler is a rascal. Sitting in a large hotel room in Pasadena, the dark-haired former "Coach" refuses to answer questions he doesn't want to. But one would never think him impolite, inconsiderate or even consciously realize he's dodging a few details — at least, not right away. Before the interview even begins, he passes his phone around the table to show off a picture of his "ugly dog," laughing and joking with a genuine, Southern hospitality. Only at the end of a 20 minute conversation did he go so far as to say the above statement, instead carefully constructing his answers to charm, expound when possible, and evade when necessary.

Both he and Ben Mendelsohn know better than to share too many secrets about their new series, "Bloodline," a Netflix original drama from the creators of "Damages." Secrets, after all, are the foundation of the show. Chronicling the lives of the Rayburn family living well in the Florida Keys, each character is holding something back from even their closest friends.

John, who serves as a narrator for the audience and the sheriff of the island town, is the responsible, clean cut, do-gooder of the family. He looks out for his mother and father (Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard), who own and operate a resort, locally-housed sister, Meg (Linda Cardellini), and brother, Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) — or so it seems until the family's black sheep, Danny, played by Mendelsohn, returns home and casts the clan in a whole new light.

READ MORE: 'Bloodline' Cast & Creators on Long-Term Plans, Forming an Off-Set Family and Kyle Chandler's Best Friend

Kyle Chandler & Ben Mendelsohn in "Bloodline"
Netflix Kyle Chandler & Ben Mendelsohn in "Bloodline"

Who Can You Trust?

This much is inarguably evident in the series' opening episode, but it doesn't stop Chandler from arguing for his character's integrity.

"Yeah. Why? Why wouldn't I?" Chandler said, when asked if he believed John's version of events. "I'm an honest, good guy, and you can trust me."

Mendelsohn doesn't see Chandler's character as the "honest, good guy" his portrayer painted him as earlier. In fact, he sees the family as more of the villains and poor Danny as being unfairly blamed. "I would agree very, very wholeheartedly with that statement," Mendelsohn said. "Danny's gotta do what he's gotta. However, they also have to do what they have to do."

But that's as far as the thriving character actor will go. "It's very hard for me to know how to talk about it without feeling like it's going to detract or tip the hand as to what's going to come. But I think that's where these guys have really done something that is powerful and original."

Ben Mendelsohn & Kyle Chandler in "Bloodline" Season 1
Netflix Ben Mendelsohn & Kyle Chandler in "Bloodline"

Disassociating from Coach Taylor

For Chandler, that power and originality was the crucial part of choosing to join "Bloodline." After five seasons and an Emmy win for playing Coach Eric Taylor in "Friday Night Lights," the Georgia-native had his choice of TV projects. From an offer to take Damien Lewis' role in "Homeland" to basically any 40-year-old lead male role in the medium, Chandler wasn't short on opportunities. Instead, he carefully picked out smaller roles in specific film projects, including Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," Ben Affleck's "Argo" and Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." Other than a failed pilot for Showtime, in which he played a Cardinal in the Catholic church, it's been four years since he was a lead on TV.

"What drew me to ['Bloodline'] was Glenn Kessler," Chandler said of the series' co-creator. "Glenn Kessler came to me and gave me a broad overview of the idea and said, 'If you like it, we'll go ahead and we'll write something and come back to you.' So I was sort of hooked then. When they came back to me with the material I saw absolutely no reason not to be jumping into that. That's as simple as it was, really."

But as anyone who's spent more than five minutes with the man knows, nothing is quite as simple as Chandler makes it out to be. Included in the mix of his post-"Friday Night Lights" film ventures was a little indie that hit it fairly big. In "The Spectacular Now," Chandler appeared late in the film for a few crucial scenes as a long-lost deadbeat dad. Why? In part, to get away from being typecast as Coach Taylor, a disconnect he thinks will be strengthened by "Bloodline."

"I don't think it's a bad idea that I haven't done a TV show for a couple years," Chandler said. "That I've had the opportunities to do the film roles that I have in between was just an added benefit to staying away from television. [...] I guarantee you'll never see John wearing a blue baseball hat on 'Bloodline.' At the same time, no, I don't want people to associate me with Coach Taylor for the rest of my life. It's sort of a blessed curse, you know? But I don't think [John is] that kind of character where I have to worry too much. This show is so completely different."

READ MORE: Watch: Kyle Chandler Explains Why it's Great to Be a Rayburn in 'Bloodline' Featurette

Ben Mendelsohn & Sissy Spacek in "Bloodline"
Saeed Adyani/Netflix Ben Mendelsohn & Sissy Spacek in "Bloodline"

"The Perfect World"

Of course, another overwhelming allure had to be the cast. Even outside of Chandler and Mendelsohn, who have proven themselves outstanding time and time again, "Bloodline" sports one of the best ensembles on television — if not the best outright. Among the actors playing Rayburn family members, there are seven Oscar nominations, eight Golden Globe and eight Emmy nods. There's also three Golden Globe trophies and an Emmy and an Oscar to boot. It's no wonder Chandler wants to keep the stories the group lived through shooting on location in the Florida Keys to himself; they're too good to share.

"There's a lot of talent there," Chandler said. "I mean, you’re only as good as the person you’re working with, and there’s a lot of great talent on the show. You’re playing every day. They call it a play, and that’s what you’re supposed to do, have fun and play. It's professional playing. And it's competitive. It's full contact acting."

When asked to explain how he competed with other actors on set, Chandler grinned a bit and then explained with excitement. "A lot of the scenes with Ben and I, there are some great scenes," he said.

"It's great when you get to a scene where there's so much involved between the two characters that he and I can just stand there and we're looking for a different way to... a facial gesture, a tone, or maybe change the line to get up on the other guy? You know? It's fun."

"I've never ever had a day where I'd taken a photograph of Sissy Spacek and Sam Shephard's chairs next to each other," Mendelsohn said. "And that day I knew, 'If I have to meet the maker,' you know, 'That's it.' I mean, I feel very special about that."

"Linda and I, trying to get the last work in scenes?  Oh, my God," Chandler said. "In the first episode with the whole family gathered around, everyone leaves and it's just Linda and me.  What you don't see is there are probably three more minutes of film because we start a whole other conversation.  Like, I'll walk off and she'll say something and I'll walk back on camera and we just start talking.  They just let it roll.  It was fun.  She is funny, too.  She's sexy, hot, cool and funny."

"Bloodline" Kyle Chandler Netflix
Saeed Ayani/Netflix Kyle Chandler in "Bloodline"

Spoiler Territory

For anyone who's already seen a few episodes of "Bloodline," the above information isn't anything new — Spacek is already a strong contender at this year's Emmys, and the rest of the cast isn't far behind. What may be surprising to learn, though, is just how hesitant Chandler and Mendelsohn are about revealing spoilers even to people who have already seen the show's first major twist.

[Spoiler warning: for those who have not seen the first episode of "Bloodline," you may want to stop reading.]

In the very first episode of the series, "Bloodline" depicts the death of Mendelsohn's character, Danny, seemingly at the hands of his "good" brother John. Though the time-jumping construction of the series prohibits any definitive truths, it appears Mendelsohn shan't be returning, even if Season 2 gets the go ahead.

But Mendelsohn himself won't speak to it.

"I think it would be unfair of me to comment on that," Mendelsohn said. "There have been surprises even in what we've done to what is there, the way that these guys have structured it."

Chandler is even more evasive, responding to the question with repeated and drawn out questions of his own. "I killed my brother? Did I? Did I kill my brother, and is my brother dead?"

Twists such as this one will play a huge part in the audience's acceptance of the series, and these two actors think their show's foundation justifies its many surprises.

"I certainly never felt it was a situation where we finished doing something and we got ripped off or we ripped off the story by not knowing," Mendelsohn said, admitting there were "little suburbs of [Danny's] internal map" he didn't know while they were shooting. "In terms of the major stuff, I knew who he was."

"The audience will say, 'I believe that because it's earned,'" Chandler said. "And that just comes with good storytelling and writing. So that's why I'm really excited. Seeing the first two episodes, I was correct. It's not the same show from the first two to the next two. It changes."

"I think, as things unfold, people will be riveted by what is coming," Mendelsohn said. "That's my hope, and I'm reasonably confidant that that's going to occur from the interaction I've had with people who have seen quite a few [episodes]."

No matter what happens in the show and for it, Chandler for one is pleased with the choice he made.

"Even if the show doesn't get picked up again, I would've rather fallen into this world than another one because this was a great learning experience. It's like paid acting class," Chandler said.
Paid, "competitive," and "full contact" acting class, that is.

Mar 20, 2015

Dark Drama ‘Bloodline’

By March 20, 2015
By March 20, 2015

Dark Drama ‘Bloodline’, Starring Kyle Chandler, Arrives On Netflix

After adding another hit sitcom to its lineup thanks to the launch and immediate success of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix has bolstered its dramatic offerings as well. The streaming video on-demand service has debuted the first season of Bloodline, which debuted in its entirety on March 20th.
Bloodline, set in Key West, Florida, stars Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn, who is one of four siblings. When his older brother Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) returns home, it sparks family drama that defines the series. The first season spans 13 episodes, all of which released simultaneously on Netflix.
- See more at:
After adding another hit sitcom to its lineup thanks to the launch and immediate success of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix has bolstered its dramatic offerings as well. The streaming video on-demand service has debuted the first season of Bloodline, which debuted in its entirety on March 20th.
Bloodline, set in Key West, Florida, stars Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn, who is one of four siblings. When his older brother Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) returns home, it sparks family drama that defines the series. The first season spans 13 episodes, all of which released simultaneously on Netflix.
- See more at:
After adding another hit sitcom to its lineup thanks to the launch and immediate success of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix has bolstered its dramatic offerings as well. The streaming video on-demand service has debuted the first season of Bloodline, which debuted in its entirety on March 20th.
Bloodline, set in Key West, Florida, stars Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn, who is one of four siblings. When his older brother Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) returns home, it sparks family drama that defines the series. The first season spans 13 episodes, all of which released simultaneously on Netflix.
- See more at:

Bloodline: Can the Damages Team Turn Family Drama Into a Thriller?


Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler
Many of the characters of Netflix's latest original drama series Bloodline put forward the version of themselves they want to be instead of who they truly are. The same can said for the show's creators.
Although Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler suggest that their new series is a departure from their previous endeavor -- the Glenn Close-fronted legal thriller Damages -- the first three episodes of Bloodline display many of the same time-bending tricks and storytelling devices that defined the earlier series. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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"We're not trying to avoid Damages for the sake of avoiding it," Zelman tells "From our point of view, the tools work for what we're trying to accomplish. When we say [it's not like Damages], it's more about exploring something very different, in terms of what's inspiring the stories. Damages was all about ambition and power. This is just about family. It's not a world where people are trying to stab each other in the back and playing power games. What we're exploring are the interfamily dynamics, and the roles that people play in a family."

Bloodline tells the story of The Rayburns, an upstanding family who owns and operates an inn in the Florida Keys. When the family organizes a 45th anniversary party for patriarch Robert (Sam Shepard) and mama bear Sally (Sissy Spacek), the trio of siblings -- golden boy town sheriff John (Kyle Chandler), hothead Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and the baby of the family Meg (Linda Cardellini) -- gird themselves for the impending arrival of their black-sheep older brother Danny (Ben Mendelsohn).

And, sure enough, the fears outlined by Chandler's (sometimes heavy-handed) voiceover narration are soon confirmed. Old wounds are reopened, tempers flare and dark sides are revealed, all of which builds to a massive cliff-hanger at the end of the first episode that will make all of Netflix's subscribers happy the next episode is only a click away. The cliff-hanger flashes forward in time, and subsequent episodes continue this intriguing story. It's all a perfect fit for the binge-watching model, which the creators embraced as an opportunity to slow down.

"Because there's a larger ensemble of characters, we're able to take our time introducing the audience to the characters," Todd Kessler says. "Often in the one-hour format of television, storytellers are forced to shorthand who characters are, so things become more stereotypical or less interesting because you're trying to sell who that character is to an audience in a one-and-a-half minute scene. This allowed us to say, "We're going to take the first few episodes of this story and really let the audience get to know the characters in their lives."

Spring Preview: Get scoop on your favorite returning shows

And, like Damages, that's where this show ultimately shines. The cast is great from top to bottom, and while Mendelsohn will most likely be the breakout performance, the show allows Chandler to show TV viewers something much different than his work on Friday Night Lights. "We had experiences casting actors throughout Damages and recognizing the value of playing off of an audience assumptions about that actor," Glenn Kessler says. "Coach Taylor was such a beloved, solid, whole person and family man that it was exciting to us to get Kyle to play this role. [But] how reliable is this narrator? We know the assumptions an audience makes about Kyle, but as you're watching him through this first episode and beyond, you have to start to call into question some of the things that he's telling us because they don't seem to match up with what he's doing."

Chandler says he jumped at the role for the very same reasons. However, he believes whatever darkness is in his character comes from years and years of having to be the good son. "I think of it like a coming-of-age story for John," Chandler says. "You get tired of playing some of the roles that you've had to play your whole life. I'm going to that place where, 'Wait a second, I'm my own person, I've got my own thoughts on things and my own ideas, and I don't have to play by those rules anymore.' It can be a liberating thing, but it can be sort of dark and spooky at the same time."

On the flip side, Danny becomes so tired of his family's resentment that he leans into their perception of him. "[Danny thinks], 'I can't change your view of me anyway, so f--- you, I'll be that person,'" Zelman says. "We feel that's a very real human thing. You try to change as much as you can, you try to make efforts, and when no one appreciates them, then you become what they're labeling you... because you're so frustrated by people's unwillingness to see the efforts that you're making."

Watch the trailer for Netflix's dark new drama Bloodline

Not everyone is dreading Danny's return. "She's thrilled that he's home," Spacek says of her character. "She adores him, much to the chagrin of his siblings. Most mothers protect their children from everything and everyone, including their father. She feels responsible for a lot of problems that [Danny] has. So she's trying to compensate for that." Adds Glenn Kessler: "The tragedy of Sally Rayburn is her whole life she's been forced to choose sides. ... From the very early stages of motherhood, she recognized, 'I've got to figure out a way to coexist between these two people who fundamentally can't.'"

But based on that tantalizing flash-forward, no one seems to be able to prevent the tragedy that's destined to befall of the family. (As the tagline suggests, the Rayburns aren't bad people, but they did a bad thing.) Then again, if Damages taught us anything, those flash-forwards aren't always to be believed. So how much should we trust that that "bad thing" actually happened?

"It's very important to us that, even if things aren't what they seem, that there are actual events that happen," Todd Kessler says. "In this show, what you are seeing actually happens. We don't pull the rug out. In fact, our hope is that by the time we get to that moment, it's much deeper and much more shocking, surprising, unnerving, and thrilling than you could ever imagine from what you are just seeing in the first episode. We don't shy away from it. It's all caught up and revealed, and the audience will know exactly what's going on by the end of the first season. It'll be a complete experience unto itself."

All 13 episodes of Bloodline's first season are available to stream on Netflix now.

'Bloodline's' Kyle Chandler: Bacon Sandwiches, Heavy Ad-Libbing and 16 Other Things Left Out of THR's Cover Story

Chandler was named after a martini, hocked souvenirs to pay the bills and, if he's being honest, prefers doing television over film.

Life After 'FNL
Miller Mobley
Kyle Chandler

After nearly half a decade dabbling in film roles and passing on television ones, Kyle Chandler is back on your TV screen.

On March 20, Netflix drops 13 episodes of the Friday Night Lights star's next act, a decidedly darker drama series entitled Bloodline from the trio behind Damages. "It's a riveting, superbly cast slow-burn family drama … serving up startling moments in meticulously measured doses," wrote THR critic David Rooney of the Florida Keys-set noir, adding of its Emmy-winning lead: "The return of Chandler and his warm gravitas to complex TV drama will be cause for rejoicing for Friday Night Lights fans, and this looks to be a juicy role for him."

In anticipation, I flew to Austin in early February for an expansive interview with Chandler, which resulted in a Feb. 25 cover story. Over the course of the reporting process, which entailed a few bars, multiple drinks and a sight-seeing tour of his Texas neighborhood, not to mention a dozen or so interviews with past and present colleagues and friends, much was gleaned about the Bloodline star.

Below are 18 things — from his skills in the kitchen to the role that "scared [him] to death" — that didn't find their way into the cover story.

Read more Bar-Hopping with Kyle Chandler: 'Friday Night Lights' Star on his 'Dark, Evil Period,' Comedy Dreams and Return to TV

1) If you believe the Chandler family lore, the actor was conceived at a New Year's Eve martini party back in 1964. Having done the math, Chandler's maternal grandfather wrote his mother a letter that said something along the lines of, "If it's a boy, you need to name him 'Martini.' If it's a girl, it needs to be 'Olive.'" His parents settled on Kyle Martin Chandler.

2) Ask Chandler's buddies to recount great days with the actor, and the stories often will include some variation on motorcycles, booze and long talks. Fellow FNL alum Taylor Kitsch had a few about the day trips he and Chandler would take on their bikes, stopping in tiny towns to have a beer and "talk about life."

3) The most common descriptors for Chandler? "Great guy." "Family man." "Low-key dude." His Bloodline co-star and close buddy Jamie McShane would add "extremely generous." On their Netflix series' Florida set, he'd be the one to host the BBQs for the cast and crew and would offer up his home, his boat and his Jeep at a moment's notice. "He'd always buy all the food, fill up the boat and pay for things for people, too, and I remember I wanted to fill up his boat for him one time. I thought it would be $50, but it was like $250, and I just paid it. When he found out, he gave me hell about it," McShane recalls. Later, the duo plus their co-star Ben Mendelsohn were headed to a local sports shop and Chandler had encouraged him to buy a pair of $250 sunglasses that were particularly great for being out of the boat. McShane goes on: "I tried them on and they were incredible, but if you know me you know there's no way I'm spending more than $50 on shades so I skip them. We walk out of the store a few minutes later and he throws a bag at me. It's the $250 shades. I go, 'You shouldn’t have brought me that!' And he goes, 'You shouldn’t have paid for the gas!'"

4) Chandler and his FNL co-star Connie Britton, with whom he's remained tight, shared many traditions during their time on the NBC drama. Before each episode, they'd meet at Jo's Coffee in Austin to read over their scenes together, which often were ad-libbed. (Chandler says there were “a lot of times when [showrunner] Jason [Katims] would send us something where we're loving and tender to each other, we would go the opposite direction. And then when we were fighting, we'd go the opposite direction.” He adds, “It was fun, and no one ever complained.”) When they ended early, which happened regularly, they'd head over to Guero's for "the purist" margaritas. "We always had to figure out how we were getting home," jokes the actress.

5) Chandler proudly admits that he became the go-to chef on the FNL set. When they were filming at the Taylor house — an actual house, rather than a set piece — he'd willingly whip up breakfast for the cast and crew. Chandler's specialty: bacon sandwiches.

6) What's the most frequent question Friday Night Lights' fans ask Chandler? "'Is Taylor Kitsch really as cute as he is onscreen?'" says the actor, in an overtly high-pitched, semi-mocking tone. Ironically, Kitsch says "nine times out of 10" fans who stop him want to hear about Chandler's Coach Taylor: "'Is he the real deal?'" says Kitsch, adopting the same tone. "'Is he really like he was onscreen?'"

7) Plenty of FNL fans also come up to him hoping he'll utter one of the series' famed lines (think "Clear eyes, full hearts") or take selfies with him, and Chandler's a good sport about both. But he does draw the line: "The thing that really just hurts the hell out of me is when people hold their phones pretending like they're not taking pictures of you," he says. "I immediately walk over and say, 'Hey, let me see that' and I take a picture.'"

8) Though many of his FNL co-stars popped up on Katims' Parenthood, including Michael B. Jordan, Minka Kelly and Matt Lauria, the option was never presented to Chandler. "I only [cast an FNL alum] if I felt like I had a role on that show that was good enough," says Katims. "When we had that role for Matt Lauria or Michael B., I felt like those were really roles where I could come to them with my head held high and say, 'Hey, would you want to do this?' I didn’t want to go to Kyle and ask him to do something that wasn’t that." (Truth be told, Chandler didn't watch much Parenthood, and was surprised to hear Scott Porter turned up for the series finale.)

9) When it comes to TV, Chandler's more of a Game of Thrones guy. He's a big fan of old movies on TCM, even silent movies, and says he's gotten into binge-watching, a habit formed years earlier as he and his wife were blowing through 24. "My wife had me driving all around Los Angeles finding Blockbusters that had the cassettes," he recalls with a smile.

10) As far as film work goes, Chandler's résumé is lined with a mix of prestige hits (Argo) and indie fare (The Spectacular Now). The latter, he admits, "scared [him] to death." When pressed, he says it was because there wasn't much on the page, forcing him to dig deeper with the damaged character. "I was so nervous about it that after we'd shot it [in Georgia], I went to my hotel room, packed my stuff up real quick, got in my car and drove straight back to Texas," he says of the 23-hour journey. "I was nervous for a while. Until I saw it and then I was like, 'Oh, that was pretty good!'"

11) Chandler, who doubles as a volunteer firefighter and isn't much for the Hollywood scene, jokes that he was secretly hoping he'd be called off to duty during the 2011 Emmys. "I was nervous about going, and there were some fires going on at that point in California, and I thought maybe I'd get called out," he says. "That would've been a good excuse not to have to go, and then I wouldn't have to deal with those nerves." He's glad he went, of course, since he won in the ultracompetitive best drama actor category.

12) Speaking of Emmy night, he holds no grudge about the fact that neither his longtime agent nor manager were there to see him win. In fact, he just chuckles when I suggest that the pair, to whom he's fiercely loyal, still harbor guilt. As for the honor, he jokes that the only family member impressed was his wife of nearly 20 years. "My wife was very proud," he says. "To the kids, it's just something that's in the way of their trophies from soccer and softball."

13) Though there's plenty of time to catch up on Netflix, his now-teen daughters were not avid FNL watchers. In fact, the only project he remembers his girls being impressed by was King Kong, and that may be just because it brought the family to New Zealand. "Peter Jackson and his wife gave them the grand tour of the Lord of the Rings [sets], so dad was a hero on that one," he says, adding of the early years on FNL when he was still commuting from Los Angeles. "When dad had to go to Texas [before the family relocated] and he'd be gone for a long time and then came home without presents in his bag, dad's a bum."

14) In his early days in L.A., where he lived for some two decades before settling in Texas, Chandler studied with famed acting teacher Milton Katselas. "He taught you not how to act, but what's holding you back from acting," he recalls. (In those very early years, Chandler paid the bills by bouncing, bar tending and hocking souvenirs at the Museum of Natural History in L.A.)

15) Chandler loves the idea of a collaborative set, and got very comfortable ad-libbing during his time on FNL. He credits creator Pete Berg for instilling him with the confidence required to not only speak up but riff when appropriate. "When we first started, Pete literally said, 'This is a physical sport. You're going to do battle with the writers, you're going to do battles with the other actors, everyone in a good-natured way is going to go fight,'" recalls Chandler, adding: "And what we came out of that with was a promise to ourselves that we were going to take that [philosophy] with us."

16) Among the appeals of Bloodline for Chandler was a role and a world that differed from that of Coach Taylor and FNL. Having passed on dozens of projects in the few years following FNL, he says he was struck by the Bloodline pitch: "I'd been wanting to do something that was different, that had a little bit of darkness to it maybe and an edge to it." (Co-creator Glenn Kessler flew to Austin to meet with him before writing the pilot script, which allowed him and his two co-creators to craft the character around Chandler, much as they had done with Glenn Close on Damages years earlier.)

17) But Bloodline wasn't without challenges. The show had to go on a brief hiatus when the writers fell behind with scripts, so production ran longer than planned. Plus, it was being filmed in the Florida Keys, which offered the added complexity of heat, humidity and myriad mosquitos. Of course, ask Chandler about the locale and he'll tell you he had a blast. "If you like boating, spearfishing, skin diving and that kind of thing, it's awesome down there," he says, "a sportsman's paradise."

18) If he had to choose, Chandler is more of a TV guy. "I like the idea of family, of knowing and growing with people over time the way you get to do with TV," he explains, acknowledging that movies often are more nerve-racking for him. "The first films I did were awkward because you're going to a set halfway through the shoot, so you don't really get to know the people. I felt like I was getting on a speeding train: You grab on real quick and once you're done they shove you off the other side."

Thank you, AmazingGrace!!

Touchdown! Kyle Chandler looks back on 'iconic' Coach Taylor


Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn play brothers on 'Bloodline' Photo by Eileen Blass, USA TODAY
Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn play brothers on “Bloodline.” (Eileen Blass, USA TODAY)

There’s nary a character more beloved than wise, patient Coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights.

He was played by Kyle Chandler, who won an Emmy for his role in 2011, the same year the show ended its run. Fans, he says, do stop him all the time to profess their affection for his character.

We caught up with Chandler over breakfast, while he promoted his new Netflix series Bloodline (all 13 episodes are available today) to talk about clear eyes, full hearts and why he can’t lose.
That character didn’t become iconic until the show was over. It got very little publicity. Afterwards, it was somewhat conscious of a decision to step away from football coach characters, and TV in a sense. I’d saturated four or five years on TV, so what’s next? The films just happened to arrive. I haven’t planned anything since I was 4 years old.

Kyle Chandler on 'Friday Night Lights' Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC
Kyle Chandler on “Friday Night Lights” (Paul Drinkwater, NBC)

Now,  after appearing as a prickly FBI agent in Wolf of Wall Street, among other film roles, he says he’s ecstatic to be back on the small screen:
I love doing TV. Films are a different creature. With TV, there’s a family that’s formed when you do a show, and there’s a sense of security you feel working with people you love. With (Bloodline), I’m really grateful that I have a very safe atmosphere with this fantastic crew and cast, who are deep friends now. That’s a lot better than going to a film set and jumping into the middle of production and trying to pull off these feats.

Mar 19, 2015

Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn . . . Bloodline on Netflix

Visit the Keys . . . Far from Normal

Attention, Kyle Chandler Is Available for Hire as Your Life Coach and "Racy" Party Entertainment!

Clear eyes, full hearts, finish that piece of cake!

Yes, that really could be something you hear at your next birthday party 'cause Friday Night Lights' Coach Taylor/our ultimate TV fictional husband Kyle Chandler is totally up providing the entertainment at your next birthday party. Or even a slightly more scandalous event. The man's talents knows no bounds.

When E! News caught up with the Emmy winner to chat about his amazing new Netflix series Bloodlines, we had to know if people still come up to him and ask for some of Coach Taylor's signature words of wisdom. Oh, and if he wouldn't mind ever hoping on the phone when we need some motivation of the Coach-variety.

Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler, Friday NightLights
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

"I don't do phone calls, I do house visits," Chandler says, "and then usually it's for birthday parties or sort of a racy thing. I've got a costume for that. It's good, it's fun."

Say whaaa?! Oh, it gets better. He even provides how to set up one of these visits, saying to, "Look on the web. It's!" Forgive us Tami Taylor, but we may or may not have tried looking it up. You know, purely for research purposes.

All dirty dancing jokes aside, we were able to get Chandler to reveal the real reason there won't ever be a Friday Night Lights reunion, and it's all Connie Britton's fault! Press play on our interview with Chandler above to find out why Britton is holding out!

Fortunately, fans don't have to wait long to see Chandler back on their TV screens. In fact, they will get their wish tonight when Bloodlines' entire first season will be available to stream on Netflix. From the producers of Damages, Bloodlines centers on a family of four siblings in the Florida Keys whose lives are turned upside down and secrets are exposed when the black sheep returns home. Chandler plays the oldest sibling, with Linda Cardellini, Ben Mendelsohn and Norbert Leo Butz taking on his younger sister and brothers.

And in the grand tradition of Netflix's original dramas, like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, prepare to pull an all-nighter as you will not be able to resist pressing play to find out what happens next.

"It's similar to a novel, if you will. The chapters go back quick and there is a lot of change and development between each chapter," Chandler previews, adding, "It's a 13-hour-long movie." To hear more about the brooding series, press play on the video above!

Bloodlines premieres tonight at midnight PST.

Go here to this link and scroll down to see another interview video with Kristin and Kyle:

Kyle Chandler Is Exploring His Dark Side

The actor talks to BuzzFeed News about finding success in Hollywood, joining a new twisted television family, and tackling a character who is nothing like Friday Night Lights’ Coach Eric Taylor.

Kyle Chandler attends the Bloodline premiere in New York City at SVA Theater on March 3, 2015 Mike Pont / FilmMagic

It’s hard to separate Kyle Chandler from Coach Eric Taylor, the character he played for five seasons on the beloved football drama Friday Night Lights. The series propelled the now-49-year-old actor’s career, earning him a devout fanbase and recognition from movie and television producers alike.
But that was after Chandler spent two decades trying to break through in Hollywood.

The actor, who grew up in Illinois and then moved to southern Georgia in his preteen years, attended the University of Georgia, where he first became interested in theater. He got the idea from some fellow students he bummed a cigarette off of one night, prompting him to audition for the college’s production of The Comedy of Errors, in which he was cast as one of the twin Dromios. After committing to being a theater major, Chandler and a friend took the train all the way to New York City to audition for a program for which 12 people from across the country were selected to head to Los Angeles and get an introduction on Entertainment Tonight. Chandler won his way into the program, but his friend didn’t, so he exchanged his one-way first-class ticket for two coach seats and they flew out to the West Coast, “smoking cigarettes the whole way and drinking scotch.”

“And that’s sort of how it happened,” Chandler recalled in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “I was the last year [of the program], I’m in deep south Georgia, and I end up getting the damn thing. It is pretty absurd.”

Chandler spent his next year-plus in Los Angeles bartending before he got his first gig: Skinner in the TV movie Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story. He continued to get cast on television series, including Gary on CBS’s Early Edition and Jake on ABC’s What About Joan, but it wasn’t until 2006, when he landed a guest-starring role as Dylan, a bomb squad leader, on Season 2 of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, that he began catching the eyes of big-name casting directors.
While he was filming his arc (which spanned Season 3 as well) Grey’s casting director Linda Lowy pulled Chandler aside and took him to off set to meet Pete Berg, who wrote and directed Friday Night Lights, the 2004 football film based on H.G. Bissinger’s novel of the same name. At the time, Berg was planning on bringing FNL to the small screen. “I don’t know if Pete was really aware of me, to tell you the truth. And I don’t think he thought I was right at the beginning either, if I recall correctly,” Chandler said of playing Coach Taylor, a character with whom he is now inextricably connected. Admittedly, the actor also didn’t believe he was right to play Coach, thinking he was too young compared to Billy Bob Thornton’s version of the part in the movie adaptation. But after many conversations between Chandler and Berg, and one breakfast in which Chandler showed up on a motorcycle, late and hungover from a party the night before, the two agreed he was the right man to embody Eric Taylor on television. 

“There were probably a variety of reasons I said yes, but one of them is that I needed a job. People weren’t yelling out the windows for me to work with them,” Chandler said frankly. “I’m so glad I did it, because it was just a great experience, but you know the reason that that show was what it was was Pete Berg and Pete Berg and Pete Berg. I say that because at our first meeting, when all the actors came together … he stood up and said, ‘Look, here’s the deal: This is a game, this is a competition.’ It was a battle, it was a competition. I love the metaphor that acting for me now, it’s a sport. It’s my sport.”

FNL followed Chandler’s Coach Taylor as he led the Dillon Panthers and the East Dillon Lions to Texas state championships. The NBC series, which debuted in 2006, built an intensely passionate audience — for many, Coach’s mantra, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” still serves as words to live by — but the ratings weren’t big enough to keep FNL on the network. After two seasons, NBC struck a deal to move the series to DirecTV, which co-produced three more seasons of FNL. But after Season 5, the Taylors left Texas so that Eric’s wife, Tami (Connie Britton), could pursue a career beyond being a football coach’s wife. And thus FNL came to an end. (Unfortunately, Chandler shot down the idea of a full-on FNL reunion, but did say he and Britton have a pipe dream of doing a “smart, screwball … physical comedy” that would give Britton the opportunity to “slug [him] in the nose or something like that.” Though he said the two characters probably wouldn’t be married, he reassured fans they “would obviously love each other.”)

Since its series finale in 2011, FNL has continued to build its small but mighty fanbase as audiences have discovered the series on Netflix, the streaming site that is coincidentally home to Chandler’s next project: Bloodline. On the upcoming Netflix series, which launches on March 20, Chandler plays John Rayburn, the second of four children, three of whom still live in their hometown in the Florida Keys near their aging parents.

Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights
Universal Media Studios

Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn on Bloodline
When audiences are introduced to John in Bloodline’s debut episode, he’s sitting behind the wheel of his truck, his arm hanging slightly out the window, driving down a nondescript road, certainly reminiscent of many FNL scenes in which Coach does the same. But it quickly becomes clear that the two characters are headed in very different directions, literally and emotionally.

“Coach was someone who was enveloped in a world of young men who he loved very much. And that’s in Dillon, Texas,” Chandler said. “I am in the Florida Keys. A detective. Completely different world, and completely different past history. His desires and Coach’s desires just have nothing in common.”

At the onset, John appears to be a kind, simple family man. But as Bloodline builds, so does his darker side. Viewers who know and love Chandler from FNL might struggle to see that darkness at first, but the actor believes that by the time it comes to light, the audience will understand where it’s coming from. “I knew that the writing was good enough that it was earned,” he said. “That’s my faith in [the writers] and trust.”

That trust between Bloodline’s creative team and Chandler has also built over time, beginning when Glenn Kessler, Todd Kessler, and Daniel Zelman, who previously created Damages, approached the actor with the premise for Bloodline. It was a very different casting experience than the one he had with Berg and FNL — this time, it wasn’t Chandler who had to do the convincing; others set out to convince him. “They said to me, ‘If you like the idea, we’ll go write something and we’ll bring it back to you. If you like it then, maybe we can agree to do something,’” the actor remembered. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

Having never seen Damages, Chandler quickly watched the entire series (which, coincidentally, moved to DirecTV after three seasons on FX), while Zelman and the Kessler brothers wrote the script for what became Bloodline. “They said, ‘This is like an experiment. We’re not quite sure if this is going to work the way we’re doing it, but we want to try to create this family dynamic we’re aware of and create this family around it,’” Chandler remembered. “And their hesitancy of whether it would work or not just… I guess it made me, thinking back on it, realize they were into it 110% because they were trying to create something new. I didn’t know what would happen with it or where it could go … But I was like, I’m in.”

Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn on Netflix’s Bloodline Saeed Ayani / Netflix

Where the series goes, as viewers will soon learn, is largely steered by Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), the eldest Rayburn child, who returns home to the Keys, forcing his family members to confront issues they’ve long tried to keep buried. “It’s not the Kennedys of the Keys, by any means, but it’s a family that … has respect there … We’re part of the community. And within that, there’s a little bit of respect,” Chandler said. But among the Rayburns, it’s a different story. “The Rayburn family is almost like a cancer, eating itself from the inside out,” Chandler said. “That’s the fun of this show is playing those dynamics, because in the long run, I love my family. We all do. It’s blood. But things happen. And sometimes blood and love make you do things that you’re not supposed to do.”

Ultimately, though both John and Coach put family first, the Rayburns could not be more different from the Taylors. “The two guys would not care for each other at all,” Chandler said.

“If [Bloodline] goes for four, five years, I do know what kind of colors this guy reaches. And it’s out there. And there are places … things as an actor that I haven’t done before that make me nervous to think about that … [but] I feel comfortable to go for these risky positions to try new things,” he added. “I think they’re going to throw as much as they can to really mess with me. Because they write not just for you, but they write against you. They want to see you push the envelope and, ‘Let’s see if he can do this one.’ So, again, it’s like a sport.”

But for Chandler, it’s now a totally different game.

Bloodline Season 1 premieres on Netflix on Friday, March 20.

Emily Orley is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Orley reports on the television industry.  Contact Emily Orley at

Mar 18, 2015

‘Bloodline’ Producer on Casting Kyle Chandler, Working with Netflix and Lessons of ‘Damages’

Kyle Chandler Bloodline Netflix

The trio of executive producers who created FX’s “Damages” — Daniel Zelman, Todd A. Kessler and Glenn Kessler — are at it again, with their new twisty tale “Bloodline.” The family drama-meets-thriller, which debuts on Netflix on March 20, boasts a star-studded cast, including Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard as the parents of a clan burdened by secrets, which come bubbling to the surface when black sheep son (Ben Mendelsohn) comes home. It falls to favorite son Kyle Chandler to protect them — and in true “Damages” fashion, nothing is at seems.

Variety talked to Zelman about how and his fellow EPs created their new thriller.

How did you come up with the idea for “Bloodline”?

It really started simply as a scene. We had finished “Damages.” We were partners with Sony, and we knew were going to do another project with them. We just wanted to make sure that whatever we were going to write about was something that was important to us in some form. Glenn and Todd, who I created the show with, are brothers. They have an older brother, and I’m one of three brothers. We’ve all known each other for 25 years. There’s something very similar about our families. We’ve just talked a lot about our families over the years. So when it came time to finding a subject matter for another show, we kept returning to this idea of family. In this current landscape of television, the idea of doing a straight-ahead family drama didn’t feel like something that would really stand out. We weren’t going to do a family show unless we found an angle that gave it a certain kind of edge, something exciting. So we tossed around some ideas and finally hit upon this notion of combining a family drama with a thriller. And that’s when everything fell into place.
What were your inspirations when writing the show?

The real inspiration was writing about family dynamics that we’ve experienced. The show isn’t about our family per se, but a lot of the family dynamics we explore are familiar to us. Movies like “Body Heat” and “Cape Fear” were things we talked a lot about, particularly because of the setting in Florida, but also movies like “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Even movies like “Fatal Attraction” and The Talented Mr. Ripley,” those were touchpoints for us. As was the novel “Crime and Punishment.”

How did you cast the show? Did you write the show with certain actors in mind?

There was no script, so in some sense in some ways we wrote it for everyone. While we were writing the first script we were also casting. Those two things did go hand-in-hand. There was a degree to which we were able to write a little bit to all of them, although we were still learning who they were and how to work with them. Casting is huge in anything you do. With our cast with “Damages,” having Glenn Close at the center of our show, we’ve been very spoiled. Everything fell into place with this show, too. Kyle very early on was someone we identified. We knew this character had to be someone who could be at the center of the show. We heard he was interested in doing something else, but it had to be the right thing. He was going to be very selective. The three of us flew down to meet with him, and we just got such a great feeling from him. His presence was so perfect for what it was we saw in the role of John. We were incredibly fortunate he was willing and able to do it. But just as important since it’s a family, the older black sheep is a hugely important character. Their relationship is very much at the center of the whole show. Ben Mendelsohn is someone we had seen in a string of movies, playing small roles in most of them. Whenever we saw him, he was just unrecognizable from the time before. We knew this character had to have a very wide range of colors. We were just very lucky that we got the people we targeted. When we were pitching the show, we said, in imagining the parents, think of someone like Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek. And then we ended up getting them. And they all did such an amazing job blending and melding with each other and becoming a family.

How did you write the show differently knowing you’d be on Netflix vs. a traditional network?

For us we feel it’s so well suited to the way we tell stories, because our storytelling is heavily serialized. We already knew that a lot of people that watched “Damages” watched it in a binge fashion. This show is a family drama that morphs into a thriller. There are certain thriller elements early on that are threaded through, but it really becomes more and more of a thriller as it moves forward. We felt like we wanted that to change very gradually. We wanted you to get to know the characters first. We wanted them to be real people and not immediately go to a genre. What it allowed us to do was inch by inch, step by step, bring this family to a place. Very early on in the first episode you see Kyle Chandler’s character in an extreme situation. For us we wouldn’t have thought it was realistic or enjoyed it if Kyle goes from being the man he is to this other guy instantly. We want to see him pushed to this extreme place over time, and we want to see how it happens. Because the next episode is just one click away, we felt like it gave us more freedom to do that. That was very exciting.

As with “Damages,” you play with time here. How much fun is that for you as a storyteller?

It’s fun. For us it comes from what we feel is going to be best for the story primarily. There’s less of it here then there is in “Damages.” It didn’t mean anything to us either way, except that we felt this show needed less of it. The thing that happens in this show is that we start seeing bits of the past. Because they’re a family, the past is more relevant to who they are than it was, for example to Patty Hewes and Ellen Parsons in “Damages.” The future goes away, we see more of the past and the future comes back in later. Kyle’s voiceover in the introduction into these events also feels a bit different to us. It’s just freedom, it’s just storytelling freedom. We’ll take advantage of every narrative tool we feel we have to make this show as interesting and exciting as possible.

Can we trust the voiceover? Is he a reliable narrator?

Is anyone? Without giving anything away, in our world in general, people say what they need to say and what they feel they have to say in the moment to protect themselves and protect their family. At the same time, John, Kyle’s character, is a honest man. So there’s a tension there. We answer the question of what that voiceover means at the end of the season. That all is leading somewhere. Whether he is a reliable narrator or not will be revealed to the audience by the end of the first season at the end of the final episode. You’ll have to wait and see. Everything is possible.

Does the finale set up for a second season?

Yes. Even when we pitched the show we had ideas for what five, six seasons of the show could be because that was very important to us to think about how does this evolve season by season. The final episode of this season answers all the questions of this season, which is always very important to us — but then launches a whole new proposition going forward. We always did that in “Damages” as well. We tried to answer every question that we posed in a given season by the end of that season, but then also leave something for the audience moving forward. I guess you could call it a cliffhanger. We did the same thing at the end of this season. There’s very much a springboard moving forward.

What lessons did you learn from “Damages”?

That’s a good question. Probably a million of them, really. I think one of the lessons we learned is that the audience can have such a different perspective on the events and the characters that they see that you can’t worry too much about it. You have to write the show as it feels most organic to you. We were always amazed in “Damages” how people could see events in very different lights. One audience member could see one character as a villain and another could root for that character. Early on we had some kind of testing and people were frustrated with the show because no one was likable and everyone lied to each other — and other people loved the show because no one was likable and everyone lied to each other (laughs). You just have to tell the story the way it makes the most sense to you.

What about lessons in terms of producing the show?

Every day you learn something about how to do best write a scene and to best communicate that scene to the actors. A tremendous amount of what we learned was learned in editing. We are very editing-focused. We give ourselves a ton of freedom in editing. Very often we will rewrite a scene in editing because we will see something in editing we feel is a more interesting idea. It’s a visual medium, ultimately. We’ll squeeze every opportunity out of our process to get the most of the acting, our characters, the story. When you know that going in, you understand the scripts are flexible. You can write a scene a certain way. If you feel it doesn’t work the way you wanted it to, in editing you have options.

Does the season end where you expected?

It’s funny because the answer is yes, it does, even though we give ourselves the freedom to change it. What we do when we think of any of these story arcs, we think of tentpole moments along the way throughout the season. So we always know we’re writing toward a certain event or a character moment. Within that plan we allow ourselves a lot of flexibility and improvisation, until we see what the actors are bringing to the roles, until we see how the stories unfolding. As we watch the actual cuts and see what the actors are doing, what the directors are doing, and see what the locations feel like. we might get different ideas. We never want to limit ourselves if we feel like we’ve come up with a better idea. We allow ourselves flexibility, and that includes changing these tentpoles if we feel there’s a better way of doing it and the ending if we feel there’s a better way. But nine times out of ten, we do end up where we originally planned these tentpoles. Occasionally we will change one. Honestly it can make our jobs harder, but if it feels like it’s better we have to do it. But the end point of this season is definitely something we had in mind from the very beginning. I think a lot of people think we make it up as we go along. I think that’s because in between these tentpole moments we do do a lot of improvisation and changes. But I don’t know how you could create an intensely serialized show like this without having these guideposts along the way. I know it would drive me crazy. You need to have a sense of where you’re going.