To play Wade Kinsella, the CW’s newest bad boy, Wilson Bethel didn’t have to do nearly as much research as one might have expected. After-all if anyone can relate to struggling to find ones place in the world, it’s the guy best known for almost being cast as Captain America. Luckily for Bethel, that’s only part of his E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY, with tonight marking the start of an exciting new chapter of his career thanks to the series premiere of HART OF DIXIE. And here to tease his new role on the soon-to-be hit CW series, not to mention the incredibly interesting journey that got him to where he is today, is none other than the affable actor himself who gives new meaning to the phrase, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” See for yourself, after the jump.
According to your imdb resume, your first acting gig was a one-episode guest spot on THE OC way back in 2004. When it came to casting HART OF DIXIE did either star Rachel Bilson or executive producer Josh Schwartz remember you?
Wilson Bethel: The interesting story is that I actually originally tested for the pilot of THE OC for Ben Mackenzie’s character and it kind of came down to the wire for that. Obviously, I didn’t get that part, but then the producers threw me this smaller part which ended up becoming my first job in Los Angeles and that first gig was actually doing a scene with Rachel Bilson, manning a kissing booth. She claims that she doesn’t remember me, but I don’t believe that claim. I think that I left an indelible impression on her that she just refused to acknowledge [Laughs]
The other role you seem to be most famous for was coming very close to being cast in the titular role of the recent summer smash that was the Captain America movie. How does an actor move on from letting something that life-changing slip away?
That was a pretty rugged experience for me on a lot of levels. Obviously because of the size and proportion of the role that you’re talking about and the kind of life changes that it would bring, but also just on the kind of personal levels where I was in that stage of my life and really making that kind of commitment to myself that said this is my time to really want to seize this. So it ended up becoming this really kind of watershed moment for me as a person of really committing to acting in some ways and committing to a career in this business that I’d kind of been dancing around for a long time as to whether or not this was going to be my life. And then, having made that commitment and not getting the part it was pretty devastating… for a long time. I was having nightmares about Captain America for probably six months after the fact.
But that said, it’s the kind of experience I feel like I grew a lot from, I learned a lot about myself and I think that I really became a better actor and a more confident one. When you are called upon to pretty much operate on the highest level for the most important people in the industry it’s like being called into pitch an inning at the World Series and coming pretty darn close to doing a good job. I don’t have any regrets about it and truth be told, even though this is highly against procedure and protocol I did manage to sneak a few pictures of me in the full Captain America suit so at least I have those and no one can ever take those away from me!
Would it be fair to say that there was almost as much pressure auditioning for a show such as HART OF DIXIE?
Absolutely, and to be fair I also totally put myself on the line for this one to and really felt a similar level of connection. Particularly because I think this character is so cool and really just drew me in the story from the first time I met him. It seemed to me like this is something I could really see myself becoming invested in and what’s funny is that whether it’s a TV show, a play or some huge blockbuster movie, it ultimately boils down to the connection you have with the characters and as it happens I felt like I did really connect have an incredibly strong connection with this character Wade on HART OF DIXIE which is what is so exciting and compelling to me as I kind of go forward in telling this story. It makes it incredibly fun and exciting to go to work and see what’s next on his plate because he’s got a lot going on.
Aside from a very steamy make out scene with Rachel Bilson, your character doesn’t play that much of a role in tonight’s series premiere. What can you tell us about him?
I think that as the scripts come out, Wade becomes this really cool character that’s not just this small town lothario but is actually a kind of misunderstood. Beneath the exterior being this screw-it-all bad-boy that only does what’s best for himself kind-of-guy he actually has this real genuine streak of kindness that he extends to the people he cares about. As he starts falling for Rachel’s character, which happens in the early episodes you already see him breaking out of this mould of this bad boy character — he becomes someone who not only I like a lot but I think audiences are going to respond to as well. He’s kind of like the bad ass with the heart of gold that nobody ever sees which is what I think is makes him so endearing. He doesn’t put it on display for people to see you kind of have to be paying attention to him to realize that he’s as good a guy as he is.
What are some of the challenges he’ll face outside of the obvious romantic entanglements?
In the episode we’re starting to work on now, Wade’s father enters in tho the scene which is really a fascinating dynamic. His dad’s kind of the town drunk and there’s this cool stuff between them. I just think there is so many great directions that the show is moving in, not just with my character and with all of them, which is so much credit to the the writers that they’re really doing wonderful jobs subtly developing these character to make them really interesting and unique.
Will your real-life passion for music play any role in the series?
Actually it’s already rearing it’s head. Was is in a band so at some point maybe we’ll see myself play a guitar and sing. There’s been hints from the Producers that at some point we’ll see Wade’s band playing and in an episode we’re about to start shooting I do have my first ever on screen singing scene, singing “Moon River” so I’m actually preparing for that as we speak. I’m actually really excited for that and I think my mom is too.
And finally, are you prepared with the life-changing loss of anonymity that sometimes comes with this type of series television?
Well I don’t know, let’s talk in a year. But my sense always is that to a certain extent we have some control over that depending on how we as actors choose to live their lives. There are a lot of actors who I think have incredible bodies of work behind them and have still managed to live relatively peaceful lives. That said, who knows, anything is possible. If the show is a big hit then I may end up kind of having to deal with those things as they come. Certainly having spent the last week shooting an episode where I don’t think there is a single scene where i have my shirt on I’m preparing for a certain amount of flack and backlash from my own friends who I think will be making fun of me a lot.
HART OF DIXIE premieres Monday September 26 at 9PM on the OC but you can already watch the first episode for free online by visiting clicktowatch.tv