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Connie Britton, aka “Friday Night Lights’” Tami Taylor, the woman and mother every American woman wanted to be and with hair that is the envy of all, is the subject of an intimate New York Times Magazine profile that takes five pages to explore what makes the current “Nashville” star so awesome. After transitioning to a darker, sexier role in “American Horror Story,” and now as the rising star of “Nashville,” at 45, Britton’s career is just now hitting its peak — a rarity in Hollywood for women — but she’s doing what she’s always done. Here are some of the highlights from the profile, below:
Connie Britton is confident and relaxed
- “Connie leads with her brains, not her beauty,” says Jeff Reiner, who directed her in “Friday Night Lights,” the show that made her a star. “I think that’s one reason women find her so appealing.”
- Her wardrobe is relaxed: On her day with Times Magazine writer Susan Dominus, she “dressed in leggings and a V-neck sweater, makeup-free, in tortoiseshell glasses and scuffed black boots; later, when she went out for the evening, she threw on a parka.”
- She can’t always walk in heels, either: Once, while wearing 5-inch heels on set, she tripped and fell nearly 5 feet.
She looked like a shoo-in for the part of Dorothy in “Jerry Maguire” — until Renée Zellweger read with Tom Cruise
“’It was heartbreak,’ Britton said. ‘Maybe I was too tall.’”
When her career took off a decade later, she refused to be typecast as “old”
In “Nashville”: “In a scene in an early episode, in which her country singer character Rayna Jaymes takes a long walk with an old flame, Britton deliberately resisted some lines in which her character expressed fears about being old. ‘Just drawing on my own experience, I never — I never — personally reference myself as old. I don’t think of myself as old, but I certainly would not say that to a man,’ she said. It starts to become obvious, as Britton talks, how much of her own Southern upbringing (she was raised in a close-knit family in small-town Virginia) feeds into the characters she creates. ‘I might have a conversation with some girlfriends — what are we doing about the lines around our eyes — but to a man? There are certain things — it would just be demystifying and disempowering,’ she said.”
She’s 50 percent like Tami Taylor, and that’s a good thing
Britton “felt a sense of responsibility” to her “Friday Night Lights” character, a stay-at-home mom who became her husband’s boss by the third season. She confessed to her friend, talk-show host Chelsea Handler, that she was “having an identity crisis” at the show’s end: “Cause who am I, if I’m not Tami Taylor?” But when “American Horror Story” came around, “It was perfect,” she said. “It really helped me shake out any sense of preciousness about the Tami mystique.”
But, according to “Nashville” creator Callie Khouri, “Connie is only about 50 percent as earnest as Tami Taylor,” adding, “It seemed as if that insight came as something of a relief.”
This is how she spent the morning of the Golden Globes, when she was nominated for best TV actress for “Nashville”
“The afternoon before this year’s Golden Globes, Britton invited her closest friends, and their children, over to her Los Angeles home … [They] tried on couture while the little girls, some of whom wore their own princess dresses, ate pizza, played with Eyob and weighed in on which sparkly gown Britton should choose. ‘All the moms were screaming, “Don’t touch the dress!”‘ says Aubrey, who brought her 9-year-old daughter. ‘It was like a children’s birthday party over there.’”
She goes out with younger men and loves it
“Britton, who was briefly married right out of college, is single now, but she is usually dating someone. ‘In my experience of watching Connie Britton’s dating life, it has not been Connie getting beaten out by 25-year-old girls, let’s leave it at that,’ says the producer Sarah Aubrey, a friend. If Britton bristles at characterizations of a 40-year-old woman as losing her appeal, it’s because she thinks those assumptions are off-base. ‘Because frankly I’ve had a different experience, as a single woman,’ she said. ‘Younger men and all that.’ It’s not that she has a particular pattern of dating younger men, she clarified. ‘Let’s put it this way: The older you get, the easier it is to date younger men.’ She laughed. ‘There are more of them.’”
But being single doesn’t stop her from having a family
“Britton, sipping a glass of water with mint leaves, was watching her son, Eyob, a 2-year-old she adopted from Ethiopia in 2011, as he romped with the two family dogs, each of which was easily double his size.”
Read the full profile here.
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.More Prachi Gupta.