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Interview with Tom Welling

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Cheaper by the Dozen star Tom Welling

Tom Welling and Hilary Duff star in "Cheaper by the Dozen."

20th Century Fox
At the end of "Cheaper by the Dozen" there’s what looks like an improvised kiss between you and Bonnie Hunt. What was going on there?
It was probably the only time where I may have got the best of her, because there are many other out-takes where she got the best of everybody else, including me. It was something that was fun. I did it less for the camera and more just trying to trip her up once. And it didn't work - she rolled right with it, so I think she's still got me. But it was just having fun. We didn't play a lot of tricks on the set - it wasn't like we were setting people up - but we all had a lot of fun. We had fun with each other.

Can you talk about working with Hilary Duff?
She's great. She's a real sweetheart. She's a great sister; she's a great person. We had a lot of fun together. She's very charming.

Did you know what you were getting into with “Smallville” - playing such an iconic character?
At the time I thought I did but looking back, no. I had no idea. I had absolutely no idea. Like anything, you think you know what you're doing. You're like, “Yeah, I know what this is. I can do it.” And then you start doing it and go, “Whoa, this is a lot bigger, a lot harder than what I thought.”

Has it gotten bigger as it's gone along?
Yeah. It's got more predictable in that I know what to expect. Literally, I don't remember the first and second season. People talk about episodes and stuff. I'm like, “Really?” I was delirious. I didn't know what was going on. There was so much that I was doing that I couldn't keep track of. I was doing three episodes at once at times, and it was crazy. That was because the production was out of control. But now we've gotten it down to where at least I know what episode I'm working on. I've been able to manage my energy and my focus.

How did you celebrate getting your role in “Smallville” and “Cheaper by the Dozen?”
There wasn't really a big celebration for either. I know for “Cheaper,” we went out for dinner because we were all really excited. My wife and I and some friends of ours, we went out and had a fun dinner.

For “Smallville,” it was just the excitement of having it. I had turned it down twice because of the way it was described to me as Superman in high school, and I didn't want to do Superman in high school. Once I read the script and I saw that it was Clark Kent trying to fit in to be a normal kid, it became much more interesting to me with what he was struggling against.

Were you were a fan of Superman?
Quoting my father when I was four or five, I demanded to be Superman two years in a row for Halloween and I wouldn't have it any other way. I think I had grown so much that I didn't really fit the four year costume, but I still tried to wear it.

I had seen the “Superman” films. I don't remember too much about them. I remember the stories. I didn't really follow the mythology of the character and since “Smallville” started up, I made a conscious decision to stay away from that material. We're doing something different at a time before all that, I don't want that that to effect what I'm doing, even subconsciously. When I went to New York to work with Christopher (Reeve), it was kind of fun to talk to him about it. He was amazed at how we are able to do what we can do now with visual effects and special effects, and how quickly. He talked about even a year after the actual production of “Superman” had stopped, he'd worked for another year just trying to get the flying down. His joke was that he didn't want to talk to me too much about Superman, because I wasn't supposed to know that yet. He was like, “You're just Clark Kent!" He's a great guy. He really takes the character seriously. He knows more about Superman than anybody I've ever met. It's a really neat thing to be able to share with somebody.

What’s been the hardest time for you?
The hardest time was when I made the difficult decision of moving from New York to LA, to give acting a go. I spent nine months out here going to auditions, getting good feedback, but not getting a job. As time went on, money started to get more and more tight. I started to wonder if this was really what I wanted to do. That's when I got the role on “Judging Amy,” almost by default, because the guy they had chosen couldn't get someone to watch his kids that day. They had remembered me, called me in, and re-wrote it. Instead of being a guy who is a year old than Amy's character, they wrote it as 10 years younger. It turned out to be a really good relationship. I was signed for three episodes and after the three aired, the viewers wrote fan letters and it influenced the show. They called me up and said, “Look, we're really getting a great response. We'd love you to come back for three more.” That was great. I remember doing the last episode of “Judging Amy” and talking to Amy about this TV show, which was “Smallville.” I had no idea it would turn into this.

PAGE 3: "Smallville" Challenges and Acting His Age

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