Jesse Plemons Faces ‘Fear Itself’

On NBC's "Friday Night Lights," Jesse Plemons plays Landry Clarke, a high-school football player in a small Texas town.

In the first episode of NBC's horror anthology "Fear Itself," airing Thursday, June 5, he plays an unlucky guy who runs afoul of ax-wielding blondes far out in the woods.

On this late-May day, he's calling in from Albuquerque, N.M., where he's working on a feature film called "Observe and Report," a comedy about mall security guards, starring Seth Rogen.

Well, no one could accuse Plemons of being in a rut.

"[The movie] is a nice change after 'Fear Itself,' that's for sure," he says.

In his "Fear" episode, "Sacrifice," Plemons plays Lemmon (real name Lemuel III), whose carload of shady buddies, including his brother, takes the wrong road and winds up at a snow-covered fort.

It turns out that their place of refuge is already inhabited, and the residents aren't as harmless as they first appear.

Breck Eisner ("Creature From the Black Lagoon") directs from a screenplay by series creator Mick Garris ("Masters of Science Fiction," "Masters of Horror"). Jeffrey Pierce, Stephen Martines, Rachel Miner and Mircea Monroe also star.

To shoot "Sacrifice," Plemons first had to deal with the weather on location in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, far north of his native Texas.

"It was freezing up there," he says. "Actually, it kind of reminded me of Texas where we were, minus all the ridiculous amounts of snow."

He also got to spend a chunk of the episode hung upside down like a side of beef.

"You can only get a couple of takes," he says, "because you're going to pass out if you do too many, so you just go for it."

At another point, he had to don opaque contact lenses.

"Everything looked like fog," Plemons says. "I could only see shapes. Then there were lights all around, so when anyone stepped out from behind a light, it blinded me.

"It was the most bizarre experience, because I can barely see, and there's this girl screaming at the top of her lungs, and I'm running around. I'm feeling like I'm controlling this horror video game. It was really bizarre, but it was really cool."

After the chilly scenes of late winter in Edmonton, Plemons is spending spring in sunny Albuquerque, not that he gets out much.

"We're shooting at a mostly abandoned mall," he says. "They came in and they took over the mall. The production office is in the mall; wardrobe's in the mall. It's really convenient.

"We're about halfway done, and everything looks pretty hilarious. Seth Rogen is so funny, my gosh. It's a similar kind of shooting to 'Friday Night Lights,' a lot of improv, for sure."

Speaking of "Friday Night Lights," the critically beloved but ratings challenged drama -- cut short last season due to the Writers Guild of America strike -- survived to see a third season due to a partnership that NBC honcho Ben Silverman struck with satellite-television provider DirecTV.

"Friday Night Lights" returns to NBC in early 2009, but not before the 13 new episodes are made available first on DirecTV, starting in October.

"I'm going to have to suck it up and get DirecTV, I guess," Plemons says. "I feel bad, because my whole family's like, 'Well, I have to get DirecTV now.'"

When we last saw Landry, he seems to have escaped prosecution -- with some help from his police-officer father (Glenn Morshower) -- for killing the man stalking his high-school crush, Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki), who became Landry's girlfriend in the wake of the tragedy.

"That was intense, man," says Plemons of the storyline. "That all seemed to die down. I do hope the writers -- it doesn't have to be much -- bring that back a little bit and show that that's still with him.

"Because, especially with a 17-year-old kid, that's always going to be in the back of his mind. I hope they touch on that a little bit. I hope it's not completely forgotten, because that wouldn't be realistic.

"But I definitely hope he can relax a bit."

Whatever his hopes for Landry, Plemons won't know what happens until he returns to work on "Friday Night Lights" this summer in Austin, Texas.

"We still don't know anything about what the storylines will be," he says. "I know they're not [going to tell me], but I want to know so bad. Oh, man."

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