Intriguing Breakthroughs of 2001 -- Tom Welling
TV's newest Superman is headed for a supercareer.
No phone-booth changes, no flying and definitely no Lycra: The hit show Smallville (its October debut drew The WB's largest audience ever) is not your father's Superman. But Tom Welling, who plays the man of steel as a teenager, is a humble Clark Kent for the New Age. "I'm just proud to be working," he says, "and the fanfare the show is getting just adds to it." His TV dad, Dukes of Hazzard vet John Schneider, attests, "He has a good head on his shoulders. I just say, 'Remember where you came from, and don't take it too seriously.' " The 24-year-old former model comes from Upstate New York and made his prime-time debut this year in a guest role on CBS's Judging Amy. Despite the new attention, Welling, who relocated to L.A. in 2000, remains as grounded as his character. Costar Michael Rosenbaum, who plays a young (and not yet evil) Lex Luthor, sees to that: "I tell him if his head gets big, I'll start calling him Tom Swelling."