'Lone Star' star quietly built strong resume

New Faces for Fall:
Sharon Horgan | Jon Michael Hill | Billy Gardell | Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe | Andrew Lincoln | Holt McCallany | Michael Pitt | Maggie Q | Ruth Wilson | James Wolk
Fall TV Preview 2010

Fall TV premiere week will be huge for James Wolk. Not only is his buzzy Fox sudser “Lone Star” debuting, but the romantic comedy “You Again” — in which the 25-year-old appears alongside Kristen Bell, Sigourney Weaver and Betty White — hits theaters.

Not bad for an actor who landed in Los Angeles two years ago, but Wolk — who began acting in high school, studied theater in college at Michigan and spent a couple of years treading the boards in New York — has clearly paid his dues.

“In some respects, this has happened quickly — to me, it’s been a long time coming,” Wolk says.

In “Lone Star,” he stars as Bob, a young man led by his father (David Keith) into leading the double life of a grifter. Complicating matters is the fact that Bob aches to go straight — and that he’s in love with two women (Eloise Mumford and Adrianne Palicki).

Initially, the character was written to be a decade older than Wolk.

“The script was beautiful, but it felt silly to play a character 10 years older,” he says. “I told my manager that maybe this was not the right decision, which is ballsy for an actor in my place, who’s not a known quantity.”

Eventually, the producers realized that the premise worked better if Bob were younger. “The 20s are an interesting time — a lot of big changes occur,” Wolk notes. “You could see how a guy would say, ‘Wait a minute, there’s something else I could be doing.’ “

Prior to “Lone Star,” Wolk’s biggest credit was playing a teacher with Tourette’s Syndrome in the Hallmark film “Front of the Class.” Wolk figured his work in that film was what interested the “Lone Star” producers, and was shocked to discover during the show’s Television Critics Assn. press tour session that none of them had seen it.

“I thought, ‘Wow’ — I wasn’t upset, but just thought it was so crazy,” he admits, adding drolly, “Once we’re off the phone, I’m calling (executive producer) Amy Lippman to ask if she’s seen it yet. That is not cool.”

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