Imagine what Zach Gilford is like on a full night's rest.
It doesn't take much to get the actor and Evanston native wound up when riffing on Chicago sports, even on three hours' sleep.
"I'm working on a film ['The Purge 2'] and we're shooting nights, and I didn't get home until 4:30 in the morning," he said via phone from L.A. on Thursday. "Then I had to get up and do an 'Entertainment Tonight' thing, so … [I'm] a little groggy."
It was tough to notice. The 32-year-old Gilford, who played quarterback Matt Saracen on "Friday Night Lights," has a new movie out Friday called "Devil's Due." Though what RedEye really wanted to talk about was the Bulls, Bears and which athletes he'd play on the screen.
How do they pitch this movie to you? Do they say "you're going to be the devil's dad"?
[Laughs.] Not quite. It's really kind of a take on "Rosemary's Baby," such a simple story. I mean it's kind of sacred ground in the genre. It's such an awesome, classic film. [The directors] didn't want to make a run-of-the-mill horror movie or whatever. Their take on it was to really make a love story at first, this couple that people like and you're rooting for and care about and then have things start going terribly. So you're more invested. You're not just there to see get people get like possessed, or to get killed. It's not just about cheap thrills. That was a lot more appealing to me.
It doesn't seem like your typical gore-fest.
No, it's not at all. You definitely get some toward the end. I think that's also one of the great things about it is the movie kind of keeps you a little off balance for most of the movie. You know stuff's wrong and there's some scary little moments but you're not really quite sure what's going on. And at the very end things just go crazy. I think it's better to have that kind of happen at the end, so you don't blow your load early. Cuz then everyone is sitting going OK, so now we gotta believe this happened or whatever. So now you get to the end and they're in shock and they're like, "whoah, what did I just see?"
Do you approve of the Luol Deng trade?
I kind of believe we weren't going to be able to re-sign him, so we kind of got something out of it—if those picks really turn into much. Who knows. But I also know it's saving them like [$20 million] in the luxury tax. I get it. They're saying that they don't think they're going to win a championship this year. I don't think they would have traded him if Derrick [Rose] was still healthy. But I love that we're 4-1 since the trade and it kind of doesn't matter. Coach Thibodeau is so amazing that it doesn't really matter what player he has, they're gonna dig deep and they're going to win. I kind of love the fact that they're winning and kind of giving the middle finger to management. [It's as if they're saying,] "Fine, we're still gonna win, so do whatever you need to do."
Would you be in favor of any of your teams tanking?
No, I don't want to see them tank. I definitely thought about it. "Well it's a lost season and this is such a stacked draft. Maybe we can get a Tim Duncan situation like San Antonio had that one year." But even at the beginning when I was like all right, maybe I hope we start doing bad … . But I can't. When I look at the scores or watch the games I've never going to be like "no no no, miss that shot" or rooting for the other team. It's just not in my DNA.
Were you happy with the Jay Cutler signing?
I think it's good. I think a huge thing is consistency, and Cutler hasn't had that at all the whole time he's been in Chicago. I think that's played into his inconsistent play. I don't see any better options. I don't think we were going to get a great quarterback in the draft, I don't think there were any free agents out there that we were going to get that would be a huge upgrade over Cutler. As well as [Josh] McCown played—and I was secretly hoping he'd be the second coming of Kurt Warner who would all of the sudden turn into this multiple MVP in his mid-30s—I don't know. Cutler's young, and he has seven years [on his contract to figure it out].
What advice would Matt Saracen give Jay Cutler?
[Laughs.] I think it's just to be humble. My dad, he likes sports but isn't a coach or anything like that, and he said, "you know what it is? It's just maturity." [Josh] McCown knows what plays he can't make, and there's just a brashness to Cutler where he forces things sometimes because he thinks "I can do this." And I think with maturity those are the plays he'll stop trying to make and he'll settle into himself. That's just a form of being humble and knowing what you can do and knowing when to throw it out of bounds.
Do you ever want to get back to playing an athlete?
I'd love to. It was so fun getting to play football on a show for several years [on "Friday Night Lights"]. I love running around, being outdoors, playing sports. It's more fun than acting and saying lines.
Is there an athlete whose story you want to tell on the screen?
I'm like a little white boy, so it's kinda hard. I like if they did the Colt McCoy story, I could do that. If they could make me look taller, I could play Steve Kerr or John Paxson.
Would you ever want to play a Chicago quarterback?
Yeah, maybe I could be McCown. I mean I would jump at the chance. It worked in "Friday Night Lights" because I was a high school quarterback and I'm supposed to be little. And now it's like—I think it would be hard to cheat it.
What do you want people to take from this movie?
I hope people walk away just having had a good time. You know the thing I love about scary movies is when you physically feel something for an hour and a half or two hours. I think that's kind of the point of 'em. It's just so fun to be scared. People always when get startled and scream, you kind of laugh at yourself a little afterward. It's what makes the experience so much fun.
Chris Sosa is RedEye's sports editor.Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page.