American actor Zach Gilford, recognized for his portrayal of the soft-spoken Dillon Panthers quarterback Matt Saracen on the small-town drama Friday Night Lights, grew up in Chicago, Illinois with his father Steve, mother Anne, and two sisters. He attended Evanston Township High School, where his mom also works, and graduated in 2000. Zach then majored in Performing Arts and Education at Northwestern University, where he got involved in theater acting and production. Among the plays he performed in are Equus, SubUrbia, The Laramie Project, and Women and Wallace. In 2003, he also starred in a romantic-comedy short film called Handbook to Casual Stalking.
After finishing his degree in 2004, he moved to New York to pursue a professional acting career. For some time, Zach was employed at an outdoor clothing and gear outlet and was earning about $11 an hour while he was looking for acting jobs. His television debut came when he guest-starred in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2005. When a New York audition was held for the casting of a new NBC series Friday Night Lights, Gilford initially read for the part of Tim Riggins. In a later Los Angeles audition, he was asked to read the part of Matt Saracen, which he eventually got.
During his young career, Zach has also appeared in the thrillers, Last Winter (2006) co-starring Ron Perlman and FNL castmate Connie Britton and Rise (2007) alongside Lucy Liu. In 2009, he played the role of Army Lieutenant Charlie Lowell in the first part of the season five finale of Grey's Anatomy. That year, Zach also teamed up with Emmy Rossum and appeared as Johnny Drake in the film drama Dare.… Expand
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