NBC’s cult hit Freaks and Geeks didn’t make it a full season, and yet 15 years after its demise most of the show’s young cast have prospered, Seth Rogen and James Franco in particular.
As another NBC series that struggled in the ratings despite its dedicated fan base, Friday Night Lights is a similar phenomenon: the launch pad for fresh-faced, talented stars such as Taylor Kitsch (Battleship), Jesse Plemmons (The Master), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), and Toledo’s own Adrianne Palicki.
The series was “the perfect storm” of writing, acting, and directing talent, Palicki said in a recent phone interview with The Blade. And Friday Night Lights’ executive producer, Peter Berg, who directed the original theatrical film, is responsible.
“He picked us all. He had a specific vision. There are very few times in an actor’s life when you just think this is really special and nothing can touch it,” the 2001 Whitmer High School graduate said. “I think for all of us, Friday Night Lights was that. It made us and it was something that we helped create.”
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Since leaving Friday Night Lights full time in 2009, two years before the acclaimed series was canceled, Palicki has co-starred in 2012’s Red Dawn remake as well as last year’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation as kick-butt soldier Lady Jaye. She’s also returning to the action-film franchise in G.I. Joe 3. More immediately, she can be seen in the small-screen continuation of the From Dusk Till Dawn films from Robert Rodriguez, which premieres on his new network El Rey at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Palicki plays a woman with a history involving Seth Gecko (D.J. Cotrona), one of two infamous bank-robbing and vampire-slaying brothers. Seth is the same role George Clooney played in the 1996 cult film directed by Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino.
“She’s pretty dangerous and a little threatening and you kind of have to go along for the ride with her and see how they know each other and what the future holds,” she said.
The future, as it stands for the character, is limited to two episodes, though Palicki offers the possibility of additional episodes if asked. Even if nothing else comes of it, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series afforded the 30-year-old actress the opportunity to work with Rodriguez, the Texas filmmaker known for his wild visual sensibilities onscreen (Sin City, Machete, the Spy Kids films).
“I was actually down there visiting friends and Robert approached me, which is pretty surreal, I have to tell you, and asked me to be a part of the project and to do this part,” she said. “He pitched me, which I didn’t even need a pitch. ‘It’s like, I will do anything to work with you.’ And then we went from there. It was crazy too; he’s one of the top directors I’ve wanted to work with.”
And later this season Palicki will appear in a seven-episode arc of the NBC half-hour comedy About a Boy, which stars David Walton and Minnie Driver. The sitcom, which is based on Nick Hornby’s 1998 novel, was created by Friday Night Lights executive producer Jason Katims, who reached out to Palicki when casting a woman who has a relationship with the show’s main character, Will (Walton).
“I got a phone call from Jason Katims, who I obviously know very well from Friday Night Lights, and he asked me to come on and be this awesome doctor that kind of changes Will’s path a little bit. Just to be in that environment again is amazing.”
Palicki had a similar reunion on From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series with half of the series’ crew having worked with her on Friday Night Lights.
“It was like going home and the way they shoot is very similar, very quick,” she said. “And then to go and do About a Boy and work with Katims, it’s been really nice, like a little bit of flashback.”
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.