The first episode we got to know and love the character of Jason Street on Friday Night Lights could have very well been our last. Right after we met the gifted quarterback of the Dillon Panthers, he was struck down by a brutal football game injury. In an instant, the hometown hero became a quadriplegic. But the show took a surprise direction, following Street, played by Scott Porter, through rehab, breaking up with his girlfriend, finding purpose and joy in quadriplegic rugby, moving out to live on his own and miraculously becoming a father.
After such an amazing two years on the show, Porter was surprised when producers announced his storyline would end midway through the third season. TVGuide.com spoke with Porter about Jason's journey of becoming a father, his bond with cast members, his emotional final scene and what's next in his career.
TVGuide.com: Last season Jason got the shock of his life when he found out he'd be a dad after a one night stand — so what will his journey be this season?
Scott Porter: Last year, this whole arc of Jason and his child's mother, whose name is Erin, was going to be told in ten episodes of the show. Unfortunately, the strike hit, and just like everybody else in this business, production halted and we kinda missed out on some stuff. But unlike other TV shows, we jumped ahead eight months, and when they did that, they jumped to a place where Jason wasn't connected to the other cast members necessarily. He's been focused on trying to form this odd, one-night-stand-spurred relationship with this woman and their child now, and form a family unit. That's all that matters to him now.
TVGuide.com: Do you think the miracle of his son's conception made Jason who he is today? Is this how Jason Street transitions from kid to man?
Porter: I have the amazing opportunity of spending a lot of time with quadriplegics and people who have actually gone through these injuries and deal with the issue of: "Can I have kids?" ... With Jason, he really believes this child is a miracle; that through some reason the universe or God, or whoever ... he's gonna have a kid. It is the last step for him in becoming a man.
TVGuide.com: So what has Jason been up to in the past eight months?
Porter: Well, it's kind of a Knocked Up story. It's people thrown together who know nothing about each other. And [Jason] threw this desperate plea at Erin at the end of last year [to have the baby]. And she says "OK, I'll keep it, but you have to help me." And then they find out all these quirky things about each other. I would really have loved to have seen the story line develop between [Jason and Erin]. They would have had a bigger role this year if the audience had been more attached to Erin. She's a wonderful actress.
TVGuide.com: How are your fans reacting to the fact that you're leaving the show?
Porter: I think it was hard on everyone; it was really hard on me at first. The eight young actors that they cast on this show really had experience before this, and we've really grown together. The audience has grown with us because they hadn't seen us before. In a twisted way it's flattering, when I meet a fan in an airport, or on the street or in NYC, where I shot my last episode, and everyone is coming up to me saying, "Where are you [on FNL]; it's not the same without you!"
TVGuide.com: Can you talk about your interaction with creator Peter Berg and the other producers?
Porter: I have one word that I use to explain this show — I don't know if it's true about other shows — and that's "trust." The utmost trust from the top to the bottom ... everyone just really trusts each other, and that allows us to play around. It allows us to trust the writers to give us great material and the writers to trust the actors to bring [the story and characters] to life. Because of that trust, I think we made a very special show. It's a unique situation, and I don't know if I'll ever be in it again.
TVGuide.com: Who did you bond most with in the cast?
Porter: I know it sounds cliché, but I got along with everyone. Zach Gilford (Saracen) and I lived together, Jesse Plemmons (Landry) is like a little brother to me — we go to the gym all the time and to movies. Gaius Charles (Smash) and I have the same beliefs and we really connect there. We went to church together a couple of times and definitely check in with each other to make sure we have our moral compasses on straight. Minka Kelly (Lyla), I would say out of someone I work with the most regular basis, we probably became the best friends. For a lot of our scenes in Season 1 it was just the two of us, or the two of us and Riggins. I could go on and on. But, probably my best friend to come out of this is Kevin Rankin (Herc). People don't know what they're getting with Kevin — he is one of the most brilliant and generous actors I've ever worked with, and on top of that, he's just an amazing person.
TVGuide.com: What was it like to film your last scene on the show?
Porter: My last scenes were with Taylor Kitsch (Riggins). And Taylor and I basically flew to New York for my last week on the show, and the two of us couldn't keep it together in the last scene ... there were definitely tears. Taylor would kill me for telling you this, but there were definitely tears.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Porter: I'm in beautiful Charleston, S.C., on a beach shooting a movie called Dear John, which is an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel by the same name. It's me and Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Henry Thomas and Chris Cooper just signed on. It's directed by Lasse Halstrom, which has also been an incredible experience.