Zach Gilford
Birth Date:
Birth Place:
Evanston, Illinois
Famous for:
His portrayal of Dillon Panthers quarterback Matt Saracen on the critically acclaimed drama series “Friday Night Lights” (NBC, 2006-2009)
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Friday Night Lights


“The best acting advice I got, and it's the one consistent thing I stick with, is 'Just be there.' In other words, if something happens on the set that shouldn't have, don't pretend it didn't. Respond to it.” Zach Gilford

Actor Zach Gilford is known for his portrayal of quarterback Matt Saracen on the critically acclaimed drama series “Friday Night Lights” (NBC, 2006-2009). The green eyed performer also shared a Gotham nomination for his work on the thriller movie “The Last Winter” (2006), alongside Ron Perlman, James LeGros, Kevin Corrigan, and Connie Britton. Other film credits include “Rise” (2007, with Lucy Liu and Robert Forster), “Dare” (2009, with Emmy Rossum) and “Post Grad” (2009, with Alexis Bledel). He has also guest starred in the hit series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Grey's Anatomy.”

“I’m not the kind of person to follow any one person, but I have plenty of people I admire in performances. It could be a TV actor or just someone I saw playing a great part in a movie and then wonder what else they are up to and then it makes you curious as to what they are like in real life. Are they nice or are they a jerk?” Zach Gilford

On the personal front, Gilford is in a relationship with “The Price is Right” model and former cheerleader Amber Lancaster. He is best friends with Jesse Plemons, who plays Landry Clarke in “Friday Night Lights.”

Gilford cites football as his favorite sport. He remarked, “I spent time in Odessa with the Permian Panthers and here with the Westlake Chaparrals and that really hooked me. Every Friday I flew from L.A. to Austin to see a high school football game. My friends thought I was crazy but it really got into my blood and transcended sport.”

Gilford is also a big fan of basketball and the Chicago Bulls.


Childhood and Family:

Zach Gilford was born on January 14, 1982, in Evanston, Illinois. He graduated from Evanston Township High School and Northwestern University, where he majored in performing arts and education. During summers, he volunteered for the YMCA Camp Echo teaching young kids. His sister, Eliza, also worked at the organization.

Currently, Zack resides in Los Angeles, California. He is a fan of outdoor adventure. As a Trip Leader for Adventures Cross-Country, he has spent summers leading wilderness and adventure trips for teenagers.

The Last Winter


In high school, Zach Gilford set up a stage production of “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” where he also starred as George. In college, he acted in stage productions of “Equus,” “The Laramie Project,” “Women and Wallace” and “SubUrbia.” He also played Jimmy in the 17 minute film “Handbook to Casual Stalking” (2003), which was directed by Christal Karge and written by Glen Lakin.

After completing his studies in 2004, Gilford headed to New York to become a professional actor. His first break arrived in 2005 when he was cast as Kevin Wilcox in “Contagious,” an episode of NBC's “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Gilford made his feature film acting debut in the Larry Fessenden directed thriller “The Last Winter,” which premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2006, before receiving a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on September 17, 2007. Cast in the supporting role of Maxwell McKinder, he picked up a 2007 Gotham nomination in the category of Best Ensemble Cast, an honor he shared with costars Ron Perlman, James LeGros, Connie Britton and Kevin Corrigan.

However, Gilford did not hit the big time until he received a regular role on the NBC drama series “Friday Night Lights,” Peter Berg’s TV adaptation of his 2004 film of the same name. In the show, the young actor was cast as Matt Saracen, a nervous and shy teen attempting to cope with his mother and father serving in Iraq while he plays football. Debuting on October 3, 2006, “Friday Night Lights” received a Peabody Award, an Emmy Award, and a Television Critics Association Award. The show completed its third season in April 2009. According to NBC, it has been renewed for two additional seasons of 13 episodes each.

In 2007, Gilford was featured with Robert Forster, Cameron Richardson, Lucy Liu and Carla Gugino in “Rise,” which was written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez. The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28, 2007, and received a limited theatrical release on June 1, 2007.

Recently, in 2009, Gilford costarred with Emmy Rossum in “Dare,” an independent film directed by Adam Salky and written by David Brind. Based on Salky’s 2005 short film, the feature length version premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2009. He also portrayed the best friend of Alexis Bledel in the comedy film “Post Grad” (2009), which also starred Carol Burnett, Jane Lynch and Michael Keaton, and Army Lieutenant Charlie Lowell in an episode of “Grey's Anatomy” called “Here's to the Future.”

Gilford is set to star as Gus Orviston in “The River Why” (2009), an adaptation of the 1983 Sierra Club novel of the same name by David James Duncan. Directed by first timer Matthew Leutwyler, the film also stars Amber Heard as Gus' love interest and William Hurt as his dad.


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SP_COP - October 17, 2014 -
When Zach Gilford emailed photographer Jonas Peterson to shoot his Dec. 29 wedding, the "Friday Night Lights" star first wanted to explain how he fell in love with his bride-to-be, "Lost" actress Kiel...
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