Scott Porter of Friday Night Lights said that he had no regrets about playing wheelchair user Jason Street. That’s despite Porter being an able-bodied person.
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“My character’s a very unique character, and the fact that you had to see him able-bodied as well as post-injury, they had to have an able-bodied actor to play the role,” Porter said of Street, who was a starting quarterback for the Dillon Panthers. In the pilot episode of the NBC series, which ran between 2006-2011, Street sustains a spinal injury during a routine tackle that paralyzes him from the waist down. It cuts short his promising future career in the NFL.
Street’s arc throughout the series focuses on him learning to live with his new level of physical ability. He’s also reconsidering a new set of goals and dreams.
Scott Porter of ‘Friday Night Lights’ Said Production Team Made Sure To Authentically Represent Street’s Journey
Porter points out that the Friday Night Lights production crew worked to ensure Street’s journey was portrayed authentically. He explains that “everything that we did was done meticulously” to honor and tell the truth. They wanted to tell people about what living with a spinal cord injury might look like.
“I have zero regrets because we had people there every step of the way, like Coach James Gumbert, who was my technical advisor, was my guru on everything to go off of as far as making sure that this character was true to life after his injury,” Porter said. Gumbert happens to be a Paralympian based in Austin, Texas. He played and coaches wheelchair rugby, a sport that Street learned, Insider reports
Porter interviewed Gumbert for the Friday Night Lights rewatch podcast he co-hosts with his former co-star Zach Gilford and Parenthood star Mae Whitman.
James Gumbert Was Adviser On Show, Taught Actors How To Play Rugby In Wheelchairs
On It’s Not Only Football: Friday Night Lights and Beyond, Gumbert told Porter and Kevin Rankin, who played Herc, Street’s roommate in rehab, that advising them on things like how to play his sport and hold a cup when you have a specific spinal cord injury was a “badge of honor.’
“You guys wanted to live the part,” Gumbert said. “The thing that I’m most proud of, of what we accomplished is that people really believed that you guys were in chairs.”
Porter said that the show could’ve made some different choices given the advancements in the authentic representation of disability today.