Mr. Congeniality

Sari Anne Tuschman | September 21, 2018 | Feature Features National

With hardworking grit, rugged good looks and boatloads of Southern charm, First Man's Kyle Chandler might be Hollywood's most likable star.

Kyle Chandler is exactly what you hoped. He’s warm and witty, handsome and easygoing. He tells a good story (often at his own expense); has a hint of a Southern drawl; and radiates an authentic, down-to-earth vibe actors at his level of success rarely possess. He’s a good guy. And it isn’t an act.

I verify all these qualities in person at The Musso & Frank Grill, the iconic Hollywood Boulevard establishment where Chandler requests we meet. It’s one of his favorite spots, which he tells me over a tuna fish sandwich and a large glass of cold milk. He’s lived right outside of Austin for about the last decade, so a trip to his former L.A. stomping grounds nearly always includes a stop here.

It’s in a booth at this legendary joint where we discuss Chandler’s enviable career, which began some 30 years ago when he first came to L.A.—one of only 12 who had procured a rare development deal with ABC. Upon hearing the news, Chandler dropped out of the University of Georgia and made his way west with his best friend. He has worked consistently since, but it wasn’t until his role as Coach Taylor in cult-obsession Friday Night Lights that he truly became a household name. “I’m sort of like a hunter and a gatherer,” says Chandler. “In the beginning, everyone starts out, and you’re just trying to get a job, and you’re trying to start a career—I’ve never stopped that mindset. There is, and always has been, a fear of never working again.”

In the last few years, Chandler has also earned rave reviews and two Emmy nominations for a darker role in the critically acclaimed Netflix show Bloodline. His filmography is vast and varied, from roles in the wild true story The Wolf of Wall Street to the Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea to the comedy flick Game Night. Yet it seems some of Chandler’s biggest roles are still on the horizon: First Man, the behind-the-scenes story of NASA landing Neil Armstrong on the moon, comes out in October and stars Chandler as the late Donald Kent “Deke” Slayton, a WWII pilot-slash-aeronautical engineer who became the first chief of the astronaut office; Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong. “Some roles are downright intimidating,” says Chandler. “It is sort of aggravating because when a role is really intimidating, and it scares you a little bit, then it’s almost like, God damn it, now I’ve got to do it.”


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