This week at The Pink Heart Society editor Trish Wylie talks to us about the inspiration behind her most memorable hero to date - the infamous Gabe - who looks remarkably like actor Tom Welling...
Yes I'm back. So you know this isn't gonna be brief. Get coffee then come back. Comfy now? Then I'll begin...
Not so long ago I confessed to my secret fascination with Superheroes and how the very lovely Justin Hartley inspired me to create Alex from my January Modern Heat His Mistress: His Terms... (the book and Male On Monday pics that may even have made a blonde haired hero convert of our very own Ally Blake! Which is quite the achievement - TRUST ME!)
Well at the time I mentioned I'd found more than one subject for hero inspiration from the show I found Justin on. And here he is - the man who inspired Gabe in my linked book Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy... welcome to the inspiration that is Tom Welling...
I'll just get this out of the way. I LOVE THIS GUY. BUT - he has nigh on RUINED ME when it comes to hero inspiration ever since Gabe (though the one I'm working on now is helping some with that). If Tom wasn't so GOSH-DARNED-GORGEOUS I'd have to hate him for that kind of muse-block. But if you're looking for tall, dark and handsome and of Modern Heat-ish age... my friends...LOOK NO FURTHER.
Now... about the man himself... Thomas John Patrick Welling was born on the 26th of April 1977 in Putnam Valley, New York to a GM executive father and homemaker mother. A 'middle' child he has two older sisters, Rebecca and Jamie, and a younger brother, Mark - who is also an actor. As his father's job required frequent relocation, the family moved from New York to Wisconsin to Delaware, until finally settling in Michigan early in Tom's junior year of high school.
He was active in several team sports at High School including baseball, basketball and soccer and on graduating worked in construction while continuing to live with his parents.
In the spring of 1997 whilst Tom and a few friends were taking a vacation on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, he was approached near a bar by an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue shoot scout working under world-famous photographer, Bruce Weber. Following a brief discussion Tom was offered the opportunity to model for the catalogue, which at that time was still in its infancy. Returning home to weigh-up his options, Tom decided to head to New York where the shoot was scheduled. It was to be the start of a new career, and it was at this shoot that Tom first met his long-time friend and future co-star, Ashton Kutcher.
Tom then went on to take part in the runway show for Ralph Lauren's Fall 1999 collection at New York Fashion Week, and a few months later appeared in spreads for Adidas, Nike and Conde Nast. Working through a model agency in Germany he also took on assignments in Europe from their offices in Munich and Hamburg.
"I once jumped off cliffs on the coast of Italy, 50 feet into the water. I'm adventurous, I love pushing the limits and doing things like that."
"You know one of the things about going from modeling to acting is it's so much more fulfilling. With modeling, you get your picture taken, which is great, good for you, you know? But in acting, you're able to reach in and show a little bit more of yourself."
His first major acting role was as karate teacher Rob Meltzer, a love interest of Amy Brenneman on the TV series Judging Amy. Although the role had originally called for an older actor it was decided to make Rob ten years younger than Amy and when the interaction between them proved popular with the audience it was extended from a three to a six week storyline. Tom then had a small role in Special Unit 2 and appeared in the debut episode of a sitcom called Undeclared.
But then came the role that would make him a household name, gain him a legion of fans... and bring him to the attention of a certain Irish writer you may know who was searching for hero inspiration ;)
Telling the previously untold story of a young Clark Kent pre-Superman years, the TV show Smallville was on a nationwide hunt for a fresh face. But Tom wasn't entirely convinced, turning the role down not once, but twice. Some claimed he had fears of type-casting, some claimed he had concerns about being a good enough actor for the role, some claimed it was because he thought it would be lame. But whatever the reason, after reading the script, talking it over with his father and some second thoughts, he read for the role and decided to take the job. And I for one am so glad he did. I've always been a Superman fan and with this series I have a show that not only can I bond with my youngest nephew over - I can also get an idea or two, or as it turned out a book or two, along the way - score! I wonder does that make the box sets a research expense...hmmm...
In fact I'm even one of the growing legion who would pay good money to see him on the big screen in the iconic suit! But then, as I said in the last of these blogs I was a Christopher Reeve Superman fan in my childhood and thanks to Smallville I remembered where I got my earliest inspiration when it came to handsome heroic men sweeping woman off their feet... (okay so none of my heroes fly and none of them do much of the actual sweeping but the seed was sown...okay?!)
Like Christopher Reeve Tom wasn't a big Superman fan prior to being cast as Clark Kent, and continues not to read the Superman comics. But he did say he felt some sort of connection to the character of Clark and was later quoted as saying:"I've learned to love him a little, sure. He's a good guy. You know, as a kid you think that you can be that. You have all of these emotions and ambitions, and to play them out through this character is cathartic. It's also a lot of fun."
The Pilot of the show aired in October of 2001 and became the highest rated debut for The WB channel in the USA, with 8.4 million viewers tuning in. It's currently in it's seventh season in the USA and has been picked up for an eighth and not only has Tom been able to stretch his acting wings by playing the 'bad boy' a couple of times along the way he's also been doing some directing - the episodes he directs proving firm fan favorites. And with the part of a Superhero, whether wearing the iconic suit or not, comes the joys of things like... your very own action figure:"I don't think one is ever prepared for something like that. But, it's fun. I hope it's durable."
For me, he has grown into the role beautifully over the years (I tell ya the man can convey emotions without words at this point) - that's the beauty of having a story told over eight years and watching the actors mature. And it really has made me a fan of the show - filler episodes aside - particularly over the last couple of years. And along with the character development the relationship of Tom's young Clark Kent with Erica Durance's young Lois Lane has got me hooked into the kind of romance I remember from those early movies (only with a few modern day twists). Sigh. Like I said - I'm a fan. (here's a little Youtube vid to demonstrate my fixation on their relationship so far - lovely song too! And one to show how far Tom's role as the iconic Superhero has come here - for those of you who are fellow fans like me!)
Anyhoo - Tom has been named one of People magazine’s Breakthrough Stars of 2001 and won the Teen Choice Award as Choice Breakout Star in 2002. And in 2003 he branched out into the movies with Cheaper By The Dozen, saying he had three reasons for taking the role; Steve Martin, Steve Martin and Steve Martin. He reprized the role in 2005 with Cheaper By The Dozen 2 as well as taking on the roll of Nick Castle in a remake of John Carpenter's 1980 film The Fog; where he demonstrated a more mature side - the same maturity he now seems freer to play in the role of Clark Kent as Clark steps closer towards his destiny.
And as all of us here at The Pink Heart Society like a little real life romance I should tell you Tom met his future wife Jamie while she was working in a coffee shop in Miami. Two years Tom's senior, she had also worked in the modeling industry and the couple had met briefly during their careers. However, Jamie had apparently forgotten about those prior encounters, which it's said led to her initially believing she was being fed a line when Tom commented, "I think I've met you before." Bless.
Becoming one of Tom's closest friends, they dated for several years and married in Martha's Vineyard in 2002. Tom has said the person he respects the most is his wife, because she has the greatest heart. On the subject of children? Well, he says:
"Do I want twelve kids? Sure - but I don't have to give birth! I'm only responsible for the fun part. When the time comes for the first one, we'll go from there."
Sensible man! So what else can I tell you before I wrap up? Hmmm.... lemme see...
Tom is reportedly 6ft 3 tall, has green/hazel eyes and dark chestnut hair... apparently he has size fourteen feet... he can do the voice of Gollum from the Lord Of The Rings movies and a fairly good version of Keanu Reeves... favourite celebs are Bob Saget, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Robert De Niro, Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld...fav movie is Mutiny On The Bounty... he is part German, part Irish, and part Native American... He auditioned for the role of Tag on Friends... when he saw a woman being mugged in real life he ran over and fought off her attackers - the woman then looked at him and said "Wow, you really are Superman" and he laughed... Oh and both he and his wife are avid horse riders...
Anyone who knows me can see how many boxes this man ticks.
Last but not least he's an intensely private man, which I have to say you gotta respect anyone achieving in the industry he works in - I'd be the same in his shoes - plus it does kinda add to the fascination a little I guess ;) Spending up to ten months a year filming any free time he gets is spent with family, friends and of course his lovely wife. And when it comes to speculation and rumors regarding what he does and doesn't do he was once quoted as saying:
"There were so many rumors out there, and it's the kind of situation where if you speak about it you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I'd rather be damned if I don't."
So there you have it - Tom Welling - the inspiration behind the infamous Gabe. Oh and the picture that created the kind of fictional hero it's apparently gonna take me a long, long time to get over. Thing is - and this is the beauty of hero *casting* - this pic? Well it IS Gabe to me now. I can't see it and see Tom Welling or Clark Kent for that matter. I see the stubborn, arrogant, protective alpha LUMP who caused me and my heroine so many problems during the writing process. Sigh.
Though that's not to say I can't give a shout out to my hero inspiration in the reader letter and in a particular line in the book where my heroine tells Gabe: "Can I just remind you that the cape-wearing you did in those days was voluntary?"
What can I say - we authors do sometimes leave little personal things in our books... Authors? Am I alone???
For more information and with thanks for some of the info and pics in this Monday's feature you can check out tomwelling.org and the truly, truly addictive Kryptonsite where fan-art is taken to almost cosmic dimensions of talent - you have no idea the lengths I've taken procrastination to on that site...TRUST ME.
And as a final note I have this to say; I thank the late, great Christopher Reeve for making me believe a man could fly when I was a kid. But I thank Tom Welling too, because he made me believe in the man who would one day fly. I think I'd forgotten the magic of that a little as I got older...
Feel free to chat all you want about Tom Welling, Smallville, Superheros and what makes a super hero these days in the comments and I'll be here to comment right back!
H's & K's Trish
Trish has two books out this month - the second of which is her first main Presents release in the USA & Canada Her Bedroom Surrender - a favorite of Trish's that was previously released as Breathless!
To find out about Gabe and his book Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy which is out in Modern Heat RIGHT NOW you can visit her Website or Her Blog - the latter of which Gabe himself will be taking over for a while until Trish digs herself out of the deadline cave and all it's assorted woes.
It'll be interesting to see if he gives it back...