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Best of 2001: Breakouts -- 'Best Boy Wonder'
Caroline Kepnes

Superman -– in high school? Without the tights? No flying?! The success of the WB's Smallville hinged on Welling's ability to breathe new life (and teen angst) into Clark Kent/ And would he be on this list if he didn't pull it off?

HOW HE GOT THE PART: Minutes after his second screen test, Welling stopped at a gas station. "I called my manager and he said, ‘hold on a second.' Great time to be put on hold, right? He got back on the line and told me I got it. . . I looked around and realized I was standing alone and screaming."

ON BEING A SEX SYMBOL: "Really? That's something that's obviously out of my control."

PREVIOUS JOB: Modeling in NYC. What a surprise.

WHAT FAME HAS BROUGHT: "You tend to get a few more party invitations and messages from people you don't know, but up here in Vancouver, we're kind of sheltered."

WHAT'S NEXT: Welling is preoccupied with 14-hour days on Smallville, but he assures us, his managers are ‘looking.'