The ‘Devil’s Due’ star on his ‘Friday Night Lights’ fame and Chicago roots.
Chicago native Zach Gilford is making major waves in Hollywood with his much-anticipated horror film, “Devil’s Due,” out this weekend. But no matter how busy he gets in LA, the actor still finds time to return to his hometown — even if it’s just to catch a glimpse of his favorite athletes. “Many times, I’ve flown in just for a Bears or Bulls or Blackhawks or White Sox game,” he admits.
The Evanston Township High School and Northwestern grad rose to fame as quarterback Matt Saracen on the hit series “Friday Night Lights.” It was his big break, jump-starting his film career — he acted alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in last year’s “The Last Stand” — and helping him land regular roles on series like “The Mob Doctor” and “Off the Map.”
But “Devil’s Due” might be his favorite project to date. In the frightening flick, Gilford stars as a newlywed whose wife’s (Allison Miller) unexpected pregnancy causes her to behave in a strange, sinister manner. “Devil’s Due was one of the best experiences I’ve had on a set,” he says. “No matter how it turns out or how many people go see it, I’m happy I did it.”
Role call: “I read the script and showed up to set. That’s basically how I work. Luckily, the directors and Allison Miller were all great, so it was easy to go with it and figure it out as we all went along. I’ve always loved scary movies — not slasher films or stupid things that are gory for the sake of being gory, but ones like this that are more creepy and a slow burn.”
Pulling stunts: “There’s a good amount of blood toward the end. I got to do a couple of stunts where I was hooked up to wires and ratcheted around — that was pretty fun. I also had a stunt double. … I like to think it wasn’t because I would get hurt, but he was much better at selling the stunts and making them real. I thought it was fun getting yanked around, so I’d smile like I was on a roller coaster. That kind of kills the shot.”
Budding star: “I grew up doing plays at ETHS, then I went to Northwestern, studied acting and education and did plays there. Then I moved to New York City and started to audition. I just like to do things that are fun and good, but good is hard to predict. A great script can turn into a terrible movie and a terrible script can turn into a great movie. It’s a little bit of a crapshoot, so you try to stack the deck and look at all the people you’ll be working with.”
Chicago connection: “I get back whenever I can. [Growing up in] Chicago was great, because it instills that hard-working Midwest mentality in you, [but] with a bit of sophistication because of all the culture there. … I had never met Rob [Belushi, co-star in ‘Devil’s Due’] before, but he was a lot of fun to work with. It’s always fun working with Chicago actors, because you share a background and a frame of reference. Everyone from there has such pride in the city.”