Wilson Bethel, Hart of Dixie

Scott Alan Humbert/The CW

A year ago, we didn't know them. And now, we can't imagine our TV sets without 'em!

We are breaking down our top picks for 2011's breakout TV stars, starting with the guy who goes shirtless like nobody's business on the new CW fan favorite Hart of Dixie: Wilson Bethel. Arguably the most loved new character on TV this year, Bethel plays Bluebell's resident bad boy, Wade Kinsella. And for the record, how Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) has managed to resist his charms is beyond us. Her willpower should really be studied by scientists!

We chatted with Bethel about his breakout role, his infamous sad face and more...

Congratulations on being one our breakout stars!
Thank you. I'm honored. It's really kind of shocking and exciting. In the pilot I literally had about three lines, so it was very hard to say that I was going to be anything even remotely elemental to this show.

What originally attracted you to the role?
I was going on a feeling more than anything else because there really wasn't a whole lot of material in the pilot. [Wade embodies] my own brand of archetype...[like] early Paul Newman characters—fun, goofy, but still kind of troubled...It's just been really surprising and exciting to see how much the writers have allowed that to blossom in my character.

Why do you think fans have become so attached to Wade, besides his aversion to shirts?
[Laughs.] I think there's something really kind of pure about him that people have responded to a lot...I, Wilson Bethel, am as impure of heart as any man I've ever met! [Laughs.] It's nice to play a character that has this angelic side.

MORE: Best of 2011: Top 10 TV Comedies of the Year!

Are you aware that fans really love your sad face? You give really good sad face.
[Laughs.] That was perfected in my year on The Young and the Restless. I can tell you that all I did on that show was that mug and I think it was because I spent a year in and out of jail and I was peering through bars! [Laughs.] It was all I had time to do.  

Any scene where Zoe turns you down, fans go crazy for that face.
Oh man, if people are feeling that look, believe me there's more in store. I did one the other day that even I felt was egregious, but apparently the director liked it, so you best believe there's going to be more of that old hangdog, the old hangdog millionaire.

HART OF DIXIE, Wilson Bethel

Michael Yarish/The CW

Have you started getting recognized by fans of the show while you're out and about? 
I've had only a very small handful of actual recognitions, but I was getting my motorcycle worked on at this super roughneck spot here in L.A., you know with all these total greased-up, grease-ball, tatted-up, facial tattoo mechanics. I'm wheeling my bike outta there and this guy comes up to me and he's like, "Hey man, nice job on Hart of Dixie." The fact that that was one of about three recognitions I've had on the show is telling, I guess. I don't know who exactly watches Hart of Dixie, but it surprises even me.

Well, the show seems to have a really wide fanbase as there's a little something for everyone.
Yeah, I think so. I think it's that sweetness and I guess we're all victims of sweetness.

Do you have a favorite Wade moment so far on the show?
I'd say probably singing my dad off the roof was one of my favorites, but there are others too that we've shot that you guys haven't seen yet that I unfortunately can't elaborate on here, but you'll be seeing soon enough.

Are there any TV shows you're currently obsessed with?
I'm still catching up on shows from a few years ago that I never got to see in whole. I'm catching up on Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad. I'm so behind on all these great shows that I only really watch shows off DVDs or iTunes. I'm just very far behind, let's just put it that way! [Friday Night Lights] is just ridiculous. It's funny too especially because, like, obviously working with Scott Porter and Cress Williams, I feel like I'm in the company of giants.  

Make sure to check back with us tomorrow for an exclusive interview with our next breakout star! So are you loving Wade as much as we are? Do you have a favorite Wade moment from Hart of Dixie? Who are some of your breakout TV stars? Sound off in the comments!

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