TORONTO — Connie Britton won audiences' hearts as Dillon High guidance counselor and Texas mother and wife extraordinaire Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights. And in her latest role, she plays a therapist, which means Britton has the ideal resume to offer wise words.
In the film adaptation of This Is Where I Leave You, which recently made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival and will open on Sept. 19, Britton plays the therapist turned girlfriend to her former patient Phillip Altman (Adam Driver), the youngest of the Altman siblings who are reunited in the movie by the loss of their father. Stepping into the character of Tracy Sullivan was rather easy for Britton, thanks to her prior on-screen counseling experience. "I've done some therapy in the past. That helped! Basically, I pulled from that. I pulled from Tami," the actress told BuzzFeed News, with a laugh, at the festival. "She's there to serve a specific part of that story, and the part of that story she's there to serve is the fact that this youngest brother is a little bit of a lunatic."
But the role wasn't one Britton was searching for since she stars as Rayna James on ABC's Nashville 10 months out of the year. "I hadn't even read the script yet, nor the book. But I just knew about the cast and frankly, I was like, 'I don't really care what it is, I want to work with that cast. I'm a huge Girls fan, so therefore, I'm a huge Adam Driver fan. I'm also a huge Tina Fey fan, I'm also a huge Jason Bateman fan, I'm also a gigantic Jane Fonda fan," Britton said. "To me, it was a dream cast. I was gung-ho about the movie just based on that before I even knew what the movie was. They came and said, 'We think you're going to get the offer,' and I was so excited. I was like, I better read the script."
After reading the script, and winning the role, Britton sat down with Levy and Jonathan Tropper, the author of the novel upon which the film is based. While they incorporated some Tracy scenes from the book into the movie, Britton's screen time is limited. "To me, there wasn't a lot of screen time necessarily for the character, but there was enough of a journey and arc that it felt exciting to do," she said. "I love playing complex, strong women characters who have flaws. So for me, this character felt very true and very relatable."
Though Tracy and Phillip end their professional relationship when their personal one begins in This Is Where I Leave You, Tracy offers some pieces of advice to him along the way. And Britton herself is chockfull of helpful tips. Here are some pieces of advice for her characters and fans, and for some other situations. Because, don't we all wonder, What would Connie Britton do?
1. For Tracy Sullivan:
2. For Phillip Altman:
3. For Nashville's Rayna James:
4. For American Horror Story's Vivien Harmon:
5. For pre-Friday Night Lights Connie Britton:
"'Don’t panic.' Because, when I first started Friday Night Lights, I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I did the movie Friday Night Lights and there wasn’t that much stuff in the movie for my character, and what there was mostly ended up on the cutting room floor. [Director] Pete Berg was always forthright about that with me because he was trying to put that movie together as we went and it wasn’t a movie about the football coach’s wife, it was a movie about this football team. So then I had all these conversations with Pete about the TV show and I really was like, 'I can't get stuck on TV for seven years playing a wallflower coach's wife. I will go crazy.' I said no to Friday Night Lights at least five times! I really wish I had saved the message [Pete] left on my phone at the time. He just called and was like, 'You gotta do this. Your character’s gonna be sexy and fucked up and complex and strong and weak.' He just went on and on and was like, 'It’s gonna be amazing!' It really was a leap of faith for me to do it because people don’t usually come through with what they say and it wasn’t in the script. In the pilot script, I think my character only had two scenes and it was a show about a football team in Texas! He did seem very committed to giving these women a voice. So yeah, I was pretty panicked when it started."
6. For post-Friday Night Lights Connie Britton:
"'Let it go and move on.' There is life beyond Friday Night Lights. It's tough. People who watch that show and love that show are very attached."
7. For Friday Night Lights fans:
"No [movie reunion]. There was [going to be] and I think Pete ultimately decided it wasn't the best idea, so I don't think it's happening."
8. For perfect hair:
9. For crying:
"That's about being open-hearted and it's surprisingly difficult to let your heart be open. So in those moments, even in the character, you gotta let it in."
10. For Friday nights:
"[Tami] should not have gone to so many football games. I mean, c'mon! There's got to be something more fun to do than that! By the way, I have become much more of a football fan just from doing [Friday Night Lights], but I always laugh because I really was so completely clueless about football for most of my time doing Friday Night Lights and it was always just, 'What's happening? What's happening?'"
11. For having some fun:
"I'm a really good hula hooper — such a random but completely true fact. I can hula hoop the pants off of anybody. I literally challenge anybody to beat me in hula hooping. And I can do multiple hula hoops. I don't know why. It must be something about my center of gravity. I have no idea. I've never hula hooped in front of a mirror, but what I've been told is I'm not really moving much. Should I be concerned? [I don't have one here, but] if I did, we would have been doing this entire interview hula hooping."
12. For using Twitter:
"Small increments, man — otherwise, it'll take over your life. It'll take hold like a monster."
13. For BuzzFeed readers:
"Start hula hooping! Also, BuzzFeed fans should continue to read and adore BuzzFeed and it should be on your Twitter feed because I find that to be an enjoyable aspect of Twitter, which is a thing I don't understand."