Zach Gilford
OFF THE FIELD: Gilford's favorite pursuits take him far from the gridiron

First Look

Zach Gilford

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There’s hope for Hollywood yet. Twenty-five-year-old Zach Gilford, who plays quarterback Matt Saracen on NBC’s Friday Night Lights, still spends his summers guiding backpacking trips for teenagers with Adventures Cross-Country. Just before getting his big break in 2005, he led a 40-day trip in Alaska, hiking, sea-kayaking, and ice-climbing. “When I tell people on the set that I go out for days carrying everything on my back and sleeping on the ground, they think I’m using it like a device,” he says. “But I tell them, ‘No, I really carry everything on my back.’ ” This month, Gilford stars in the independent environmental thriller The Last Winter, playing a wildcatter on an Alaska drilling crew doomed to madness after they uncork a pocket of “sour” gas. After filming last summer in northern Iceland, he managed to squeeze in a monthlong guiding gig diving the Great Barrier Reef and trekking in New Zealand. Good move: Gilford might need something to fall back on if NBC doesn’t pick up a second season of FNL. But if his star keeps rising? “I always tell my agent, ‘Anything that’s in some random part of the world, get me in on it.’ “

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