Although he racks up a lot of air miles, especially since signing on for ABC's jungle medicine drama "Off the Map," which shoots in Hawaii (standing in for South America), Zach Gilford tries to be as eco-friendly as possible, "being conscious of the products I use, how much water I waste or don't waste, driving less. In the shower, I turn the water off when I'm soaping up," says Gilford, who began doing that while leading a backpacking group in Costa Rica a few years ago. "When we got showers, it was one tank of water — you'd turn it off because it would run out. I used to turn the showerhead to the side. Now I turn it off. Little things like that, habits that you need to learn to break; I'm always looking for new ones."
After playing earnest quarterback Matt Saracen on "Friday Night Lights," the final season of which will play on NBC this summer, "It's great doing something new. It's fun being stupid and cocky and goofy, and the butt of the joke a lot, and not so heartfelt all the time," Gilford compares. His character, a plastic surgeon and new arrival to the medical clinic, is "the kind of guy who skated through college and med school, just because he could. He never really cared. I thought that set up for something cool, where now he's starting to realize, 'I can actually use to medical degree for some good.' As the season goes on the guy becomes more likable. You start to realize he's not such a frat boy and he grows up a lot."
As for "Friday Night Lights," Gilford is satisfied with how it wraps up. "I think there's good closure. I think it's pretty fulfilling. But there wasn't too nice of a bow tied on everything. We don't answer every question, but I think viewers will be very happy." Relocating from Texas, where "FNL" filmed, to Hawaii for "Off the Map" was easy for the peripatetic actor, except for having to leave his dog behind, with his parents in Chicago. "We're in paradise, essentially," he raves. "You get to see different parts of the island and places that you normally would never find." "Off the Map" premieres on ABC Jan. 12.