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Friday Night Lights: Zach Gilford 'freaked out' while filming 'The Son'

For Matt Saracen, season 4 ends up being a bit of an emotional roller coaster, all culminating in one episode.

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Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

For Friday Night Lights fans, season 4 is a time of massive change. Coach Taylor heads to East Dillon to revive a football program, and with that change, we’re introduced to a new cast of characters. It’s the introduction of Michael B. Jordan’s Vince, Matt Lauria’s Luke, Dora Madison’s Becky, Jurnee Smollett’s Jess, and many more. And yet, the show still manages to hold onto some faces from the past.

Whether it’s the Riggins clan or Matt Saracen, there are still a few former Panthers hanging around Dillon. For Matt specifically, season 4 ends up being a bit of an emotional roller coaster, all culminating in one episode. In “The Son,” Matt loses his father and has to figure out how to grieve someone he loved but didn’t particularly like. It’s remembered as one of the show’s strongest hours, as well as one of actor Zach Gilford’s best performances.

In the latest episode of EW’s Binge podcast, Gilford remembers filming the crucial hour. “I definitely freaked out,” Gilford says, admitting that he worried about whether he was good enough to pull off what was given to him. “It was definitely daunting.”

But when the time came to hit record, Gilford says, “I was able to get lost in it, and everyone else was so there for me.” After playing a character for so long, Gilford was able to live in the moment, even the most emotional ones. Specifically talking about crying, Gilford says, “It either happens or it doesn’t and somehow, in that episode, it 100 percent happened. Every take was real tears.”

Overall, Gilford looks back at the hour fondly. “It was intense but it was super fun and it was like the best way to kind of go out,” he says. “And the reaction to it was so humbling. I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything that good again.”

To hear more from Gilford – as well as costars Derek Phillips, Matt Lauria, and many more – on the making of Friday Night Lights, you can listen to the new episode of EW’s BINGE of Friday Night Lights above, where hosts Samantha Highfill and Darren Franich analyze season 4’s biggest moments. Subscribe to the podcast now, and be sure to tweet any questions/comments to @samhighfill and @darrenfranich or email them to binge@ew.com. EW’s Binge is produced by EW’s Cristina Everett and edited by Will Malnati of At Will Radio.