By Sarah Stephens
HART OF DIXIE launches its third season on Monday, October 7th and who else to talk about the exciting new developments in Bluebell than their own Brick Breeland, aka Tim Matheson. When we left off at the end of season two, Brick, Bluebell’s seasoned MD in residence, was about to turn the hamlet on its ear with an elopement to the much-younger Shelby (Laura Bell Bundy) and he was no worse off with his medical practice by the departure of Zoe. Tim Matheson sat down with theTVaddict.com to tease us on season three of HART OF DIXIE and to give us some insight on how the citizens of Bluebell are faring with the return of Zoe Hart.
Actor/Director Tim Matheson has a long standing career in Hollywood. Working with some of Hollywood’s comedy legends, Matheson has managed to be one of the few to make a name for himself on and off camera in the new millennium. As a director, Matheson has shot on television shows like CRIMINAL MINDS, BURN NOTICE and DROP DEAD DIVA. In this exclusive interview, Matheson chats about his experiences directing, what he loves about HART OF DIXIE and what he thinks endears audiences to Bluebell’s zany residents.
Last time we saw Brick in the season finale, he and Shelby were headed off for an elopement. Did everything go according to plan? How are things between them in season 3?
TIM: Well, I don’t want to give any spoiler alerts away but I must say things rarely go as planned in Bluebell, in HART OF DIXIE, otherwise we wouldn’t have as much fun as we do. It’s usually the road blocks that are fun and create the problems we have to try and get around and solve. I think that’s true of my relationship with Shelby. But I can give you a hint that Laura Bell Bundy, who is so wonderful and plays Shelby, is now a regular on ANGER MANAGEMENT with Charlie Sheen. So that should inform the viewers that there’s a little bit of a kink in our relationship.
Sounds like it. Poor Brick. Sounds like he’s going to go through more heartache again.
TIM: Yeah. But it’s fun exploring what happened, what’s going to happen. Shelby does come visit us. We’re shooting that episode now. And it’s such a treat to work with Laura Bell. She is just one of the most dynamic, energetic, creative, talented actors that I’ve ever worked with. Not only that, she sings, she dances, she does different characters so it’s just a wonder we had her as long as we had her.
With the kink in Brick and Shelby’s plan, how are Brick’s daughters Lemon and Magnolia reacting?
TIM: Lemon never was much in favor of our relationship. She thought I was being taken advantage of. Lemon continues to exert, or attempt to exert, tremendous influence over Brick and the choices that he makes in his life. And certainly Brick doesn’t feel like he needs any help. But in addition to the almost elopement and the break-up perhaps, and them getting back together, there’s a whole other subplot that comes into it that we’re dealing with which is a big surprise. So there’s a huge surprise that is in store all wrapped around Shelby and her coming back to Bluebell. It motivates strange bedfellows. Lemon recruits George and other members of our cast to try and prevent Brick from getting back together with Shelby. Those are her efforts. And I’m battling against all that.
We saw Zoe leave last season and take off for New York. Does that leave Brick in a bad spot with their joint medical practice? What’s the dynamic going to be like between them when she comes back?
TIM: Brick had just made peace with the fact that she was there and they were starting to get along, and then she just up and left. It kind of leaves a little bitter taste in his mouth that she just up and dumped him without any kind of communication or thought, or very little in any event. So I think there is a bit of a backlash on Brick’s part and many people’s part toward Zoe because she didn’t basically handle things as well as she could have in her departure from Bluebell. But…(laughs)….things around Zoe never do go too smoothly. And it’s part of the fun, overcoming all those obstacles and problems is really what Bluebell is about and somehow people try to find a way to go on and at the end of the day make peace with each other. But Zoe returns with a bit of baggage of her own, actually when she comes back to Bluebell.
How do things stand between Brick and George? George seems to have all these problems with women. Is Brick a sympathetic ear for George?
TIM: Well, George is sort of adrift in that sense, but when Lemon recruits him to try and keep me and Shelby apart, that doesn’t endear me to George too much. But with George, Zoe cut him loose and he’s sort of the debris she has left behind. George has been trying to pull himself together and find his footing yet again after another betrayal. Or not betrayal, but departure by Zoe. He’s just been dumped again, I guess.
If you could pick one word that would describe HART OF DIXIE, what would it be and why?
TIM: Oh, one word, let me think. Just off-beat, I think. Because all of the characters are wackos. All of the characters in HART OF DIXIE are just slightly crazy, if not more than slightly crazy. Like we all are, and some cover it better than others, you know? It’s the charm and the fun and the drama about HART OF DIXIE is how all of these crazies attempt to get along and somehow coexist within this little tiny town. And I think especially in a world that’s as crazy as ours is, look at the political situation today, I think it’s a life lesson that we’re all in this boat together. Bluebell is that kind of a place, a fictional town, where people somehow manage to find a way to get along together even despite their great differences. Even if she’s a Yankee and they’re Southerners and she’s Jewish and they’re Christian and she’s crazy and they’re crazy in a different way and she’s a Liberal and they’re not. They come from opposite poles and even despite all that, they find a way to get along. I thought that was really what was so charming and fun about Brick’s relationship with Shelby was that she’s young and he’s older and it just breathed a fresh life into his existence. It was a breath of fresh air and it just mixed things up totally and made it exciting and different and not something that everyone expected. I think he loved that. You know, it keeps you young. It’s one of those things that I think in America today we all have to keep our eye on the ball and the larger picture is that we are all in this together. It’s time to work together. Find reasons to work together rather than being in opposition.
Right, and keeping your sense of humor throughout all of that is important as well.
TIM: (Laughs) Absolutely! And that to me is what the show is about and why it resonates so well now. It shows all these people that are coming from very different backgrounds, very different perspectives on life, with a sense of humor. It shows that we don’t just make fun of the Southerners, we make fun of the Northerners and we make fun of the Easterners and the Westerners. You know, we make fun of everybody. There was a bit of concern I think, especially at the beginning, the show would [be] “Oh, it’s going to make fun of the South and the rural people.” There’s no fear of that [now]. I’ve visited down South on a numerous occasions on appearances and people down there love the show because it doesn’t pick favorites. And Zoe’s crazier than all of us. (laughs)
Any other teasers you can give us on the season ahead?
TIM: I have been directing too, so that’s been fun. I did the Halloween episode. Dash DeWitt does a one man Frankenstein show and plays all the parts. Let’s see. Wade gets himself into a bit of trouble with a judge’s wife. There was a masquerade ball and Lemon meets someone who could be a romantic interest for her. So there’s a lot of unexpected things happen on Halloween. It was a fun episode. Really great episode to do.
Speaking of directing, I know you’ve been directing for over 20 years, as well as staring in TV and films. Any preferences: behind or in front of the camera?
TIM: Well, they’re just so different. It’s like being two different people. I’m just so happy now to be able to do both and to find a perch where I can play a wonderful character in a comedy and direct several episodes a year. I just couldn’t be happier with the balance it is now. It doesn’t force me to choose one or the other. I do love directing movies and pilots and all those things. But it does force you to live out of a suitcase and be on the road. It’s a different hustle. Whereas this [HART OF DIXIE] is kind of the first time in my life I’ve really had any kind of job that stayed in one place for any length of time. I must say it’s a real treat and joy as long as it continues. I just couldn’t be happier with the creative elements and also the personal elements, working with this great cast and seeing the same smiling faces every day. And it’s fun to go to work on a comedy.
You’ve had a really long career in Hollywood, all the way back to the 60’s. YOURS, MINE AND OURS with Lucille Ball is one of my all-time favorite films.
How has Hollywood changed and evolved since you first started in the business?
TIM: Interestingly, television has been pretty constant. The cameras change and now there’s a lot more cable channels and stuff. I find that studios pretty much are the same, in terms just of the nuts and bolts. There’s a lot more lawyers now so we’re all kind of working for them in a funny way, which has nothing to do with the creative aspect at all, just the bureaucracy of it. But I think obviously there’s fewer movies. I think what that’s done has reignited creativity in television. Especially in light of all of the wonderful cable shows that are on television now, BREAKING BAD and MAD MEN, JUSTIFIED and SONS OF ANARCHY and all the incredible shows that are on. I’m forgetting a hundred of them, there’s so many good ones. Oh, HOUSE OF CARDS. It’s almost the new golden age of television. I sort of grew up in a time when people kept referring to it as the Golden Age. I did an episode of the TWILIGHT ZONE, you know, and I worked with Lucy and it was great for me as a kid to have contact with people who grew up in vaudeville. There is that lineage. I think that’s kind of missing, that real schooled, old school link to the movie stars of that era. Henry and Bob Hope and Jackie Gleeson, for me, and Debbie Reynolds and Lucille Ball. So that could be missing, but I think we still venerate our stars and continue to want to learn from them. I think it’s a very exciting time to be in television right now and I couldn’t be happier to be involved to the level that I am.
New episdoes of HART OF DIXIE air Mondays at 8PM on The CW (CHCH in Canada)
Sarah Stephens’s first and longest running TV addiction is with Days of Our Lives, starting at the age of four. Now a grown-up entertainment and pop culture addict, Sarah lives in Los Angeles where she watches too much TV, chases after all things Disney and writes. Follow her on Twitter @SnowWhite22.