How Kyle Chandler’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Role Led to Starring in ‘Friday Night Lights’

Grey’s Anatomy is going old school this week with a throwback episode from season two. The two-part episode entitled “It’s the End of the World” and “As We Know It” put the spotlight on Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), who has to remove a bomb from inside a patient’s body under the guidance of bomb squad leader Dylan Young (Kyle Chandler).

Though his character met with an untimely demise by the end of the episode, Chandler’s stint on the Grey’s Anatomy set helped him land a starring role on another prime time series.

Isaiah Washington and Kyle Chandler in a scene of 'Grey's Anatomy'
Isaiah Washington and Kyle Chandler of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Peter ‘Hopper’ Stone/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Kyle Chandler wanted to survive at the end of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ episode

Pompeo had plenty of screen time with Chandler in the now-famous 2006 episode. The Grey’s Anatomy cast member predicted his star was on the rise.

“I remember thinking Kyle Chandler was amazing,” Pompeo told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. “I wasn’t surprised his career really took off after that because he was so natural.”

At the end of the two-parter, Meredith is able to extract the bomb from the patient and hand it over to Dylan, which detonated as he was walking out the door. Apparently, Chandler tried to convince show creator Shonda Rhimes to change the script and keep his character alive.

“He would pitch me ideas on how Dylan, his character, could maybe not explode,” Rhimes recalled. “I would show him the line in the script that said, ‘Dylan explodes.’ That’s literally all it said. He was written to explode. But I did not expect to have Kyle Chandler. I didn’t want to explode him.”

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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ creator Shonda Rhimes tipped off Kyle Chandler about ‘Friday Night Lights’

Though Rhimes stuck with the script and had Dylan make his exit –permanently — she suggested that Chandler pay a visit to a director who was creating a new series and happened to be on the same studio lot.

“She’s the one who suggested I go over and talk to [creator Peter Berg] about Friday Night Lights,” Chandler revealed of Rhimes, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I said, ‘I’m not old enough to play Coach.’ And of course you know how that turned out.”

Chandler landed the starring role of Coach Eric Taylor on the NBC series. The actor won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2011 for the show’s fifth and final season, and clearly relished his time on the show.

“It was so creative,” Chandler remarked of Friday Night Lights. “We had a great writing team, but they would give us leeway to work.” 

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ episode was a blast — literally

Thirtysomething alum Peter Horton directed Chandler in the Grey’s Anatomy episode, which brought in massive ratings due to its prime air time following Super Bowl XL. Horton pointed out the episode’s climactic explosion at the end provided more aesthetics than they had planned.

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Kyle Chandler Lobbied to Stay Alive on the Legendary Bomb Episode

“Whenever you direct anything, some of your best moments are accidents,” Horton explained. “When we did the blast, all of these bits of debris fill the air and come slowly down like a rainstorm. It added such a fabulous texture to that moment, when Ellen is sitting up and looking at the remains of poor Kyle Chandler.”

The blast was memorable to Chandler as well, where he recalled some fallout during rehearsal.

“When they exploded the detonating cord for a practice run in the parking lot,” Chandler remembered, “I swear you could hear car alarms going off for 30 miles.”