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The Runner-Up

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Gilford (left) with co-star Ashley Springer in Dare.  

We start the evening at a screening of Paranormal Activity at the Alamo Drafthouse, a cinema that serves food and beer. I’m embarrassed to find that Gilford is one of those people who talks at the screen. When a character is annoying to her boyfriend, he yells, “You suck!” The audience howls, which delights him. Afterward, Plemons wants to see a band at the Continental Club. Wherever we go, Gilford invites people to his good-bye pub crawl.

In a night I could title Friday Night Lights: The College Years, we actually do end up in a dorm room at the University of Texas (where Gilford’s cousin is visiting friends) doing Jell-O shots. At one point, he gets serious about leaving the show, and for a surreal minute, it’s hard to figure out who I’m talking to: Matt, the kid in Dare, or the actor. “When you’re in high school, everything is the biggest thing in the world, life or death,” says Gilford. “But then afterward, it’s like, ‘Oh, it wasn’t the end of my life when I broke up with my two-month girlfriend.’ You sort of move on, and you come to the point where none of this is the end of the world. I’m still alive. I can still make shit happen.”


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