Off Camera 47 | 11/12/15
Connie Britton
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Why is it that even if you haven’t seen more than a few minutes of Connie Britton on screen, you feel like you somehow already know her. And not only know her, but really like her. Maybe we relate so instantly because we get the feeling she’s a lot like us, only maybe just slightly improved. Watching her work in shows like the dearly departed Friday Night Lights, you’re sort of inspired to be a better person. In Hollywood years, Britton is a bit of a late bloomer, having no family or industry connections, and majoring in Asian studies instead of acting. All of which she came to see as an advantage; it forced her to take a good look at herself and figure out what she had to offer as an artist that was truly unique, versus what everyone else was doing, or was expected to do. Another late-bloomer advantage? Once you know what your particular gifts are, you can fight to stay true to them. When no (that’s zero) drama schools accepted her after college, Britton figured she’d better just take those gifts to New York and start auditioning. Based on how that was going, she had nothing better to do than take a part in a small independent. No one, including Britton, had any reason to expect The Brothers McMullen would garner any attention or box office, so she felt they made it for the best and most pure reasons – art, and the experience of creating it. Still, it’s nice when (thanks to Ed Burns and his magical backpack) it becomes a box office hit, and your breakout role. So when that led to her first screen test (with Tom Cruise for Jerry Maguire, no pressure), she couldn’t be blamed for getting her hopes up – and subsequently completely crushed – when the director passed her over for Renée Zellweger. Britton has said it took her an xx to get past the devastation of that experience, so we invited said director to come back and talk to her about that. Here at Off Camera, we’re all about closure, folks. But, as strong and buoyant as the hair that now has it’s own Twitter account, Britton kept working, kept learning, and increasingly, kept fighting for characters and storylines that rang true. Having learned a lesson about character arcs on Spin City she turned down NBC’s dearly departed Friday Night Lights countless times, until series director Peter Berg assured her Tami Taylor would stay “strong and messed up” and not on the sidelines. He listened, and everyone scored. Britton says the show’s “independent TV” approach of allowing great mistakes to happen was empowering, and pushed her to take risks as an actress. A strong believer that “it’s not a risk if there’s no way to fail,” Britton saw promising potential disaster in singing on the hit series Nashville. No disaster ensued, but some great TV sure did. In a funny, real and downright uplifting conversation, Connie Britton shares tales from her winding career path, how she discovered what she had to offer as an artist, and how resilience comes from finding a higher purpose in her work. We’ve wanted to have Connie as our guest for a long time. Now we also want her for our best friend, career counselor, coach, cheerleader and role model for our kids. After all, how busy can she be, right?


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