Zach Gilford is keeping busy.
The 35-year-old actor, who played Matt Saracen on NBC's “Friday Night Lights” from 2006-2011, is participating in this year’s Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday.
And fans shouldn’t expect Gilford to slow down after the race. He’s gearing up for his next role in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson’s eight-episode sci-fi action thriller, titled "Lifeline,” which is set to premiere on YouTube later this year. He starts shooting the series next week and is eager to surprise longtime fans of “Friday Night Lights” by showing off a completely different side.
“People always think of me as the nice guy, the guy you’d want to bring home to mom,” he said. “Look, I hate using the term ‘action hero,’ but I’m definitely a bit more of an alpha male [in this]. You know, I used to lead backpacking trips in Alaska. I’ve been charged by bears. So I definitely have a little more grit to me than what most people realize.”
However, he doesn't mind it when fans still recognize him from "Friday Night Lights," which has developed a cult following among viewers.
He said he doesn't know exactly why fans are still so enthusiastic about the series years after it ended.
"It's not like, I can't imagine why," he told us. "I think it's just a really good show. The style that we shot our show was documentary style, so it made you feel like you're watching a documentary. It feels like you're watching real people and we tried so hard not to fall into TV high school melodrama. And I think that allowed people to be like, 'Oh my god, I've been there,' or 'I was that guy, I know that guy,' which drew you in more."
Gilford is also more outspoken about his views than some of his fans may realize. The star will run the Los Angeles Marathon to support Planned Parenthood.
“I just think it’s such an amazing organization,” Gilford said. “It got caught in the crosshairs of politicians… I don’t know why a bunch of men should tell women how to do their healthcare and try to defund it.”
While Gilford explained that the timing to run this year worked out perfectly with his non-stop schedule as an actor, he also was determined to help support the cause.
Gilford posted a call to action online about two weeks ago and raised over $6,000 for Planned Parenthood, surpassing his initial $5,000 goal.
In response, Gilford has been personally thanking anyone who donates on Twitter.
"You'd get like an email from someone who has donated and it becomes these little bright spots in my day," he explained. "I've been trying to personally thank anyone who donates via Twitter. It's been fun to interact with people who respond back. I just want them to know how much this means to me."