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Wilson Bethel: Music connoisseur, slack liner & 'Hart of Dixie' bad boy

SHOW PATROL

October 16, 2011|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

Earlier this fall, “Hart of Dixie” actor Wilson Bethel wrote on Twitter that he was “glistening like a Christmas ham” for an upcoming episode.

Bethel, who plays bad boy Wade Kinsella in the CW series, seemed a little embarrassed while talking about being shirtless for so much of the episode, but said that it makes sense within the story and is used with a great sense of humor.

“It doesn’t really enter into the realm of being egregiously ridiculous,” he told me shortly after filming the episode. “That said, yeah, I was baby-oiled up and had most of my features on display [laughs], which now I guess will be broadcast to the world.”

They’ll be broadcast for all to see at 8 p.m. Monday, as a matter of fact, in the episode “In Havoc and in Heat.” Wade and the other residents of Bluebell, Ala., suffer through a heat wave that lights a romantic spark to the antagonistic relationship between Wade and Rachel Bilson’s character, Dr. Zoe Hart.

But don’t think that Wade, or Bethel, are simple sexy himbos. They both have a lot more to offer than charisma and million dollar smiles.

Bethel, who had his big break in the HBO series “Generation Kill,” happens to be a well-known L.A. DJ, co-owner with his brother of the music web site www.mixtaperiot.com and one of the founders of the L.A. arts magazine Amor Fati. The son of author Joyce Maynard and artist Steve Bethel also was a finalist to play “Captain America” and is an accomplished slack liner, the PC term for tightrope walker.

Right now, however, he’s concentrating on “Hart of Dixie” and showing that Wade is more than a handsome face and buff body.

“Wade also has this really kind of sweet side to him that I think Rachel’s character brings out a lot,” Bethel said. “It’s kind of amazing from my perspective because it’s really the best of both worlds. I both get to be the bad ass and also the guy that people really love, which is really a pretty ideal situation … He’s kind of, I guess, a bad boy with a heart of gold.”

Bethel and I talked more about muscle cars, slack lining and his other projects.

Tell me about Wade.  
For starters, he’s kind of ever evolving and that’s one of the really exciting things about working on the show. … I'm watching as this character grows and really fills out in a lot of ways that are very exciting from an acting perspective and in terms of a personal perspective.

The kind of description of Wade that I was given upfront was that Wade is this kind of a town bad boy. He’s kind of a lives-by-his-own-rules type of guy. While that is the case and continues to be the case there are other elements of Wade that are quickly being clarified as we’re reading new scripts and the action begins with the writers and me and the other characters.

These new elements of Wade are starting to come out now and are really cool. Wade also has this really kind of sweet side to him that I think Rachel’s character brings out a lot and a side that is as prone to doing really selfless, very nice things for people albeit in very understated ways.

He almost has like a kind of guardian angel kind of quality about him that has shown up now in several episodes that we have shot and are shooting, but it’s kind of amazing from my perspective because it’s really the best of both worlds. I both get to be the bad ass and also the guy that people really love, which is really a pretty ideal situation.

I'm sure there are a lot of things that we’re still going to learn about him. My dad will enter into the picture a bit. I know in a future episode I'm going to be getting into some mischief with and ex-wife figure, so there is always this sense of an evolving take on it. He’s kind of, I guess, a bad boy with a heart of gold.

So he has been married? He has an ex-wife?
Well I can’t go too much into that, but there is an ex-wife episode.

It may not be his ex-wife though?
You’ll just have to wait and see.

OK. And then can you say who is playing your dad?
Truth be told we actually just had the table read yesterday and I'm not sure of the actor’s name, so I will—he reads great.

These changes in Wade, do they come about mostly because of his relationship with Zoe?
I think both because of that and some not because of that, but I think it’s one of those things of like when you’re kind of falling for somebody whether you like it or not you’re opened up in certain ways that you might not have been otherwise. So I think there is an element of Wade that as his affection for Zoe develops maybe he finds himself acting out of character a bit for himself whereas maybe in a certain situation he would be more selfish. With this kind of blossoming affection for Zoe he finds himself maybe taking a different kind of approach.

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