Scott Porter is pretty adamant about recycling. "My building didn't have recycling bins and we petitioned the owners to make sure we got them," he says, and before shooting got underway on his CW series "Hart of Dixie," he vowed to take recyclables to the recycling center himself if bins weren't provided. Co-star Cress Williams is equally avid. "I've always recycled, and I only eat organic. At Whole Foods, they know me by name. I've got a motorcycle that's a little better on gas and I ride it to work as much as I can. What's great about California is you can pretty much do it all year round."
While the pilot for "Hart of Dixie" was shot in Wilmington, N.C., the series' set is in Burbank, "ten minutes from my house," notes Porter, who worked on "Friday Night Lights" in Austin, Texas, and "The Good Wife" in New York. "It's the first time I've ever been able to do a show where I live. But I would have gone anywhere for this show."
Asked to go back to "The Good Wife," he turned down the offer. "My whole heart is in 'Dixie,'" he puns, explaining that he loves everyone involved with the show and its lighthearted tone. "I've done serious roles for quite a long time and in Hollywood you're only the type of actor that whatever the last project you did says you were," he points out. "I loved the fact that I could build the character up from the ground floor," he adds, describing George as "not your regular kind of hero figure. He's not a wet rag kind of leading man. He's got an ornery streak in him. I'm really excited to see how George interacts with everybody." The fact that he gets two beautiful love interests, played by Rachel Bilson and Jaime King, isn't bad either, he says.
Porter is getting his wish to do more comedy on the big screen as well. He's in the ensemble cast of "Ten Year," which recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, with Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Justin Long, Rosario Dawson and Aubrey Plaza, about a tenth high school reunion. On that set, Plaza gave him the script for "The To Do List," which led to him joining the R-rated comedy "about a high school valedictorian who realizes she has no sexual experience going into college and she decides to tackle it like a summer course. It's set in 1993, and I play a lifeguard at the pool," says Porter. Coincidentally, the film's cast includes Bilson and "Friday Night Lights" co-star Connie Britton.
Williams, another "FNL" alumnus — he played the angry, intense father of East Dillon's star quarterback (Michael B. Jordan) in the final season — was also looking "to do the opposite of what I just worked on" and seized the chance to play Lavon Hayes, NFL star turned mayor of Bluebell, Ala., a genial sort carrying on a secret affair — with Porter's character George's fiancée (King). Compared to his "Lights" character, "the only thing they have in common is there's football in their lives and they're both southern men. Beyond that, they're very different," says Williams, noting that Hayes has "a dark past. In the NFL he lived the high life, a wild past life, and I think that's why he decided to come back home. But I love his positive outlook on life."
Like Porter, he's elated that he can work 15 minutes from home, and also have his young daughter visit the set. Although he grew up in Los Angeles after spending his first few years in Germany, where his father was stationed in the Army, he has a lot of family in Chicago and Mississippi and likes aspects of both city and country life. He appreciates the routine of rural life, and "the idea of people knowing you, knowing your likes and dislikes," he muses, "but there's a part of me that likes a little more speed."