Tim McGraw on That Hangover Scene

The Uncomfortable Position of Friday Night Lights

I hated Tim McGraw for a hot second in 2004.

It was when he played Charles Billingsley in Friday Night Lights. And his acting was good. Almost too good. He was so awful to his teenage son in that film, I found myself loathing him.

It sounds like McGraw did too.

When he spoke at the Country Radio Seminar on last week, McGraw told the industry crowd that the very first scene he shot for that movie was one of the worst scenes.

“The first thing that I shot was the scene where I was hungover, I was drinking chocolate milk out of the refrigerator, talking to my kid,” he recalled of the shirtless scene when he was telling his son about the ugly facts of life.

“It was one of the most intense scenes. I probably was hungover by the time we shot that because I was so nervous the night before,” he laughed.

“You have to be in the moment, and you have to be present, but you have to drop everything at the same time. It’s not up to you how it goes. You don’t have control over it. But I like putting myself in uncomfortable positions,” he added. “That was my first real experience in a movie where I had a character to develop, and I felt like I was like I was learning how to do a new craft.”

McGraw admitted that the Billingsley role in Friday Night Lights wasn’t the first one he was offered and had been waiting for the right one — a cool one — to come along.

“When you have some success, people start coming after you asking you to do things,” he said. “You know, part of being a musician is being cool, right? Even if you’re not, you wanna act like you’re cool. That’s sort of the mystique of being a musician.”

But being in the movies, McGraw explained, doesn’t always call for being cool.

“You can step in front of the camera, and that’s the last thing you wanna be,” he added about why he was so careful about the roles he took. “Then I read the Friday Night Lights script.”

Because he’d played football growing up, in an area where football was really important, the character really jumped off the page.

“I knew that guy,” McGraw said of Billingsley. “I was at ball games with that parent. He was a combination of a lot of guys — partly my stepdad and partly some other dads. So I identified immediately. And I just felt like I could do that part.”