January 14, 1982
Evanston, Illinois, United States
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Actor Zach Gilford, a native of Evanston, IL and graduate of Northwestern University, where he starred in theater productions of "Equus" and "The Laramie Project," had his first starring role on the critically acclaimed, but under-watched "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006-07), Peter Berg's television adaptation of his 2004 film about life in a small Texas town fixated on its winning high school football team. In the television version, Gilford played backup quarterback Matt Saracen, a 16-year-old kid trying to deal with his absentee mother and his father serving in Iraq, who is thrust into the spotlight during the first game of the season when the team's starting quarterback (Scott Porter) suffers a serious injury. Gilford drew upon his own gridiron experiences when he played ball at Evanston Township High School, where he suffered from an injury that led him to discover acting. Prior to his stint on "Friday Night Lights," Gilford appeared in an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ), then had a small part in his first feature film, "The Last Winter" (2005), an indie thriller about the surviving members of an oil drilling crew struggling to traverse the Northern Alaskan landscape after the rest of the team loses their grip on reality.