Kyle Chandler 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.
Playing John was a different kind of challenge for Chandler, 49. “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.”
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 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.”