BY: Frazier Moore
NEW YORK – It’s so nice to meet up with the stars of ‘Lone Star‘ for an interview. James Wolk, Adrianne Palicki and Eloise Mumford are three of the sexiest, most eye-appealing actors around, on or off their new Fox melodrama (which premieres Monday at 9 p.m. EDT).
But catching them together is also disconcerting. On the show, Wolk plays a scam artist living a double life. He’s the devoted husband of Palicki’s character, the wealthy daughter of a Houston oil baron. At the same time, he’s the perfect boyfriend living with the character played by Mumford, a down-to-Earth sweetie-pie in working-class Midland 500 miles away.
In short, these two women shouldn’t be in the same room. Neither woman — Cat or Lindsay — has a clue the other even exists. Yet here they are (or, anyway, the women who portray them), palling around like BFFs with each other as well as the man their characters unwittingly share.
“From the first minute that we met each other, Adrianne and I got along incredibly well,” says Mumford. “All the producers said, ‘No, no, no! You CAN’T be friends!’”
“It’s one of the best things about being on location together, and I ran into this with ‘Friday Night Lights,’” says Palicki, now back in Texas for ‘Lone Star’ after several years as Tyra Collette, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, when she was shooting ‘Lights’ in Austin.
“On location,” she says, “you develop friendships with your cast mates, because those are the only people you know.”
Between them sits Wolk, who, wearing boyish charm as lightly as a feather, suggests a twentysomething version of George Clooney. He is poised to be the season’s breakout heartthrob, a forecast that, when mentioned to him, triggers a dismissive, charming chuckle. He’d rather talk about ‘Lone Star.’
“It’s about a con man raised in a world of lies and deceit by his father to be the world’s BEST con man,” Wolk says. “His greatest asset is his ability to connect with people and affect people, and that’s also his greatest flaw: He ends up falling in love with his marks — THESE two marks,” says Wolk as he indicates the ladies flanking him.
‘Lone Star’ would be worth watching as a delicious prime-time soap. But it’s more. The actors speak of it as ‘Dallas’ meets ‘Friday Night Lights.’
“It has gloss,” says Palicki, “but it also has depth.”
And no easy answers for Bob Allen, the character Wolk plays.
Raised on the run by a ruthless grifter dad, he not only loves his two women deeply, he also loves the identities they let him reflect: Cat’s polish, sophistication and ambition; Lindsay’s small-town wholesomeness and steadfast values.
“They represent both sides of the American dream, filling two voids inside him,” says Wolk. “He is so in love with the worlds that they exist in, that he can’t let them go. If he says good bye to either of them, he loses her world as well as her. He can’t do that.”
But he longs somehow to escape the con game. He wants to go legit. Hired into the oil empire built by his father-in-law (Jon Voight), he wants to be a businessman for real.
“What do you know about ‘real’?” sneers his flimflammer dad (David Keith). “This is a house of cards. You don’t get to LIVE in it!”
Torn between two worlds, two father figures and two women, Robert must connive to stay true to his dual identities.
“It’s gonna be fun when cracks start to show,” Mumford says slyly. “These are both smart women, and I think they’re going to start to figure it out. Then it’s gonna get interesting.”
Mumford, Palicki and Wolk laugh as they describe a scene they dreamed up together. It might someday appear in the series, or not, but it’s easy to picture: Cat and Lindsay just happen to cross paths in a grocery store. Maybe at the dairy case. Their eyes meet. They feel a mutual connection. Who knows what this could lead to? A breathless pause. Then, without a word, they part, each wheeling away her grocery cart.
One thing is clear: Robert is walking a tightrope. He must stay on guard to protect his cover, and his relationships.
“It’s heartbreaking when I think about it,” says Mumford. “He has a greater purpose than just trying to get money or success: It’s a love story.”
“A really messed-up love story,” Palicki chimes in.
“He’s conning in the name of love,” Wolk sums up. “I know that sounds crazy, but I think that’s what the audience has to believe, or you’re not gonna like him. Or like the show.”
Good thing the show is so likable.