Kyle's Career Filmstrip: TV Series and Movies

May 17, 2015

Cannes First Look: Michelle Williams, Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler in 'Manchester-by-the Sea' (Exclusive)

Among the Cannes market titles this year is Manchester-by-the-Sea, directed by Kenneth Lonergan.

In the drama, Casey Affleck stars as a man who returns to his Boston suburb hometown to deal with both his estranged wife (Michelle Williams) and the fallout from a family death. Kyle Chandler also stars.

Chandler plays the protagonist's brother in the film, which began shooting in Massachusetts in March and is being introduced to buyers at the Cannes film market by Sierra/Affinity and WME.

Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Lauren Beck, Kevin Walsh and Chris Moore are producing.

May 5, 2015

Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek Talk Binge-watching at ‘Bloodline’ Q&A

Bloodline Kyle Chandler Sissy Spacek
Eric Charbonneau/Le Studio

More than a month after all 13 episodes of “Bloodline” hit Netflix, the show’s stars and creators gathered Monday for a screening and Q&A at the Pacific Design Center’s Silverscreen Theater in West Hollywood. Though they portray a dysfunctional family in the series, the “Bloodline” team reunited with brotherly embraces and affectionate teasing.

There was, after all, reason to celebrate: Each cast member was happy to report that they had received only positive feedback since the series debuted.

“It picks people up and they go along for a big, big ride with us,” said Ben Mendelsohn, who plays black-sheep older brother Danny. “It’s been great.”

One of the show’s creators, Todd Kessler, expressed his gratitude that people continue to get into the show after the novelty of its release has faded. “It’s kind of been a word of mouth show,” Kessler said. “It’s something that continues to be discovered, which is great, as opposed to something that a lot of people came to at first and then kind of moves off the conversation. It just continues to seem to build.”

Sissy Spacek, who plays the matriarch of the troubled family at the show’s center, described the show’s building popularity as “a groundswell.” She considers the show to be a draw for binge-watchers.

“I’m a binge-watcher! I binge-watched this,” Spacek said. “I watched it all in one day.”
Spacek isn’t the only avid TV binger in the cast. Kyle Chandler admitted that he’s been a marathoner since the pre-Netflix era.

“The first time I binge-watched was back when ‘24’ was still on VHS, and my wife was sending me to Blockbuster, which don’t exist anymore, so I did it before it was really cool and fashionable,” Chandler said, signature smirk firmly in place. “I was just on my motorcycle doing what my wife told me to do.”

Regarding the popularity of “Bloodline” among other binge-watchers, Chandler said listening to the unfolding conversation has been fun. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s worked out wonderfully,” he said.

The consensus among team “Bloodline” was that the show’s pacing is what begs the binge.

“Unlike traditional television, the story unfolds at a different pace because they know they have 13 hours to tell the story,” said Linda Cardellini, who plays Meg on the series. “There’s nothing that needs to be established quickly… It’s a very different show by the end. It changes in pace and in genre and in tone, and the characters change before your eyes in ways that seem still human.”

Cardellini’s feelings were shared by series creator Daniel Zelman, who was determined from the onset to develop a new take on the crime series.

“We talked about not doing a whodunit, but doing a why-dunit,” Zelman said. “The question isn’t ‘What’s going to happen?’ It’s how and why?”

The actors and creators kept very quiet about the details of the upcoming second season of “Bloodline,” apart from expressing eager anticipation.

“I’m excited about it,” Chandler said. “I still haven’t spoken to them about what season two is going to be, and I would not be able to guess what it would be, I’m certain. So I have to decide now how much I want to know and go from there.”

May 4, 2015

Kyle Chandler Is Done Playing Mr. Good Guy

After years of playing by the rules, Bloodline's Kyle Chandler is sullying that clear-eyed, full-hearted reputation.

There's an early scene in Netflix's Bloodline that positions Kyle Chandler where we might expect him: As John Rayburn, the golden son/county sheriff in a dynastic Florida Keys family burdened by the weight of its own secrets, the Friday Night Lights alumnus lugs his unconscious older brother, Danny, through a swamp made even more treacherous by unrelenting rain.

Ostensibly, Chandler is a savior, again the good guy trying to do the right thing. "Kyle's got very broad proverbial shoulders," says Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Danny on the 13-episode drama. "He can pick up that load, and he can carry that load." But moments later, after John incinerates his brother's body on an abandoned boat, setting off a season-long murder mystery, it's clear that Eric Taylor has left the building. Adds Mendelsohn: "I think John is more like, 'Why can't another person carry this load for a bit?'"

It's a subtle shift in accountability, but one that illuminates a dimension of Chandler his fans have yet to see properly. Since moving on from his career-making, Emmy-winning turn as the incorruptible high school football coach on the now-cult NBC-cum-DirecTV series in 2011, Chandler has carefully played his hand in Hollywood, acting as a puffed-up straight man opposite big-screen hotheads.

There he was, macho and in charge, grilling Jessica Chastain as Islamabad CIA station chief in Zero Dark Thirty, calling Leonardo DiCaprio's bluff in The Wolf of Wall Street, and furrowing his brow while Ben Affleck saved the day in Argo. His true gifts—unflinching vulnerability and slow-burning virility that rouse strength in men and weak knees in women—were only partly visible in his portrayal of Miles Teller's alcoholic deadbeat dad in 2013's The Spectacular Now. But back on the small screen as Rayburn, a rumpled family man who will do anything to keep his secrets safe, there's a return to form, a comfort with the Chandler we know, combined with the intriguing ambiguity of a layer we don't. "People trust the characters I play," Chandler says, "which makes it a little more enjoyable to go to the other side."
To get to the crux of the 49-year-old's impact— described as "gravitas" by Mendelsohn and a "sense of certainty" by Daniel Zelman, Bloodline's cocreator—it's worth examining his past. Born the youngest of four to a farm owner and medical-supplies salesman father and a dog-breeder mother, Chandler and his family moved from Chicago to Loganville, Georgia, when he was 11. An eventual member of the state's 1979 high school championship football team, he quit the sport after freshman year when his father died. Later, seven credits shy of a drama degree from the University of Georgia, he moved to L.A. to sign a contract with ABC that led to an eight-episode arc on the Vietnam series Tour of Duty. Chandler's easy smile, young-Elvis bone structure, and ability to sport both a Stetson and a tailored suit landed him consistent, if largely inconspicuous, leading roles, ranging from a post-WWII ballplayer in ABC's Homefront to a clairvoyant stockbroker with the ability to change tomorrow's headlines on CBS's Early Edition.

But it wasn't until director Peter Berg adapted Friday Night Lights—H. G. Bissinger's best-selling book turned film about a football-worshipping Texas town—for television that audiences fell head over cleats in love. By then Chandler, nearly 40, had been acting for almost 20 years and married for 10, had two daughters and several dogs, and was gearing up to run a 33-acre ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas. He was a fully formed, capital-M man—and it showed.

"It's a different sensibility you have to pack in your bag when you go off and do a film," Chandler says. "I know television, and I really enjoy the ownership you're allowed to have of a character." So, whether leading young men to victory or carrying grown ones to their grave, over the duration of many hour-long episodes here is how he best showcases his arsenal: a strong bullshit meter, a whiskey-stiff upper lip, and a keen understanding of when to convey, through just the narrowing of his coffee-black eyes, that he's hiding something. That's the good stuff, but you have to put in time to get it. "He can be devilish and off-color," says Zelman. "He doesn't lead with that, but it's there." Says Chandler's FNL on-screen wife, Connie Britton, the other half of perhaps the most inspiring marriage in TV history: "He'll disappear and turn out to have done something crazy, like gone on a motorcycle ride or grabbed a six-pack of beer when you're about to take a road trip." And when he gets busted?
"He'll come back with a big Cheshire grin."

May 2, 2015

Kyle Chandler fishing in new streams with 'Bloodline'

Kyle Chandler is all about the truth as an actor — a dark truth in the new Netflix drama 'Bloodline'
Kyle Chandler on 'FNL' role: 'If I'm 80 years old and people are still calling me Coach ...I'll take it.”

Kyle Chandler is trying to figure out the game plan.

The actor is hoping for insight on the Netflix manner of doing things. The family thriller "Bloodline," in which he stars, unloaded its 13-episode first season on the streaming service about two weeks before this meeting in late March — and it feels as if all the air has been let out of the balloon.

"How do we do this?" he asks a reporter at the midcity office of his publicity firm, the Southern cadence of his voice slightly less distinct amid his uncertainty. "I'm not sure how this dance goes, darlin.' Have you seen some of the show? Have you seen all of it? This is all so different from anything I've ever been involved with."

Chandler, 49, is best known for playing the man who had folks clinging to the idea of clear eyes and full hearts as the fatherly Coach Eric Taylor on the high school football-family cult drama "Friday Night Lights." That drama, which ended its five-season run in 2011, served as his first brush with Netflix — the uninitiated became part of the fold by binge-viewing the series after the drama's network run.

This time around, though, he's in the Netflix end zone as one of the central characters in its latest original series. "Bloodline" hails from "Damages" creators Daniel Zelman and brothers Todd and Glenn Kessler. It tells the story of a seemingly upstanding family in the Florida Keys with a trove of secrets. Chandler plays police Det. John Rayburn, the second of four children, who appears to be the peacekeeper, golden-child son. But as "Bloodline" develops, so too does his darker side.

"People want to trust him. People want to believe him. People want to root for him," said Glenn Kessler. "He's Coach Taylor! So to move him out of that zone as John Rayburn and have the audience start to question him and change their perceptions was so fun to do."

The heavy, time-shifting drama, which also features Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard and Ben Mendelsohn, has been renewed for a second season.

And the 49-year-old Austin, Texas, resident has done his part, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to help spread the word. Moments earlier, the man who can talk at length about the merits of handwritten letters and the value of turning off one's phone, took part in a Twitter Q&A to promote the show — never mind that he dictated his responses via speakerphone to Netflix's social-media folks.

"I felt like I was a telegraph operator in the middle of the country," said Chandler, who is not on Twitter. "I found myself answering questions like in a 1930s movie when one of the boys went to New York City before he ships overseas — and the dad is on the phone holding the earpiece going, "Ma, come talk to him?"

Playing John was a different kind of challenge for the actor. "There are situations, especially toward the end of the season, that I have never played before," he said. "I just never have. And I wanted to make sure John's actions were earned. If there had been any doubt from the beginning about whether the justifications would be there, I would not have agreed to it."

Jason Katims, who served as executive producer and show runner on "Friday Night Lights," isn't surprised to hear Chandler say as much.

"Whether he was doing a scene with Connie Britton or with some random person in a grocery story, he always wanted to find the truth in that moment," Katims said by phone.

"I remember we cut out this huge speech Coach Taylor was going to give — it was half a page of dialogue. And he was like, 'You know what I think Coach would say there? Nothing.' He fought for the silence because he thought it was more authentic to what Coach would do."

After a string of big-screen parts in films such as "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" in his post-"FNL" chapter, Chandler was set to headline the Ridley Scott-directed Showtime pilot "The Vatican," which was to explore the modern-day political intrigues within the Catholic Church. But the project got killed.

"That pilot was the absolute best choice for me at the time," said the actor, who was raised in the Chicago area and later in Georgia. "You never know with these things. It's always a crap shoot. Every single time."

It's then that Chandler leans in, as if sharing an embarrassing secret, to tell the story of landing his first acting job in Los Angeles in the late '80s.

"You know what I did when I landed a part in 'Freddy's Nightmares'?" he said, referring to the short-lived TV spinoff. "I ran to the window and shouted, 'I gotcha, you son of a ...!' Having the tiniest bit of my sandal in the door had me on cloud nine. And I'll tell you what, that night was just me and a full bottle of $3 wine."

It gets him thinking about the career-defining role in "Friday Night Lights" — and the shadow he can't escape and isn't necessarily trying to.

"It doesn't bother me," he said. "Eventually, it will be in the past. I mean, think of some actor whose played an iconic character and is now 80 years old. I mean, what can you do? If I'm 80 years old and people are still calling me Coach, my God, I'll take it with everything it's worth."

Oddly enough, his comments came just a few days after NBC announced it was bringing back bygone ABC comedy "Coach" 18 years after it went off the air — with Craig T. Nelson, now 71, reprising his role as Coach Hayden Fox.

"I have got to get on that show," Chandler said, noting his two teenage daughters went to school with the kids of Bill Fagerbakke ("Dauber" on the ABC sitcom). "I think maybe we can be on boats, fishing, and we cross paths and have a quick five-minute conversation on life and coaching and then move on, because as we've seen on 'Bloodline,' my track record with boats is not the greatest."

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