On The CW’s Tuesday-night rom-com “Hart of Dixie,” former NFL player Lavon Hayes (Cress Williams), mayor of his small Alabama hometown of BlueBell, has turned out to be quite the ladies’ man.
“It seems like it,” says Williams to Zap2it, taking a break on the set at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif., during filming of the sophomore show’s finale episode, airing May 7. “I’m conquering everybody in BlueBell.”
Early on, Lavon had a serious relationship with BlueBell socialite Lemon Breeland (Jaime King), a romance that ultimately torpedoed her marriage to lawyer George Tucker (Scott Porter). Then he had a brief up-and-down romance with bubbly Didi Ruano (Nadine Velazquez).
Then he moved on to his former high-school girlfriend Ruby Jeffries (Golden Brooks), an entrepreneur who returned to BlueBell for family reasons. They came close to marriage, but Ruby’s ambitions led her elsewhere. She tried for a comeback, but failed because Lavon had fallen for Lemon’s best friend, recently divorced AnnaBeth Nash (Kaitlyn Black).
While the two initially held off on love because of AnnaBeth’s friendship with Lemon, all was ultimately resolved, and they are now happily involved — despite the fact that Lavon graduated from the University of Alabama and was a Crimson Tide football star, and AnnaBeth is a fan of Alabama’s fierce gridiron rival, the Tigers of Auburn University (her “grandaddy was on the ’57 championship team”).
“We’re trying to bring it together,” says Williams. “We’re trying to bring the feud to a close, both being so tied to BlueBell, being from BlueBell. Honestly, me and Kaitlyn, we were hoping we were going to go this route last year, at least coming into this year.
“It’s actually nice to be able to be in a relationship that doesn’t have to be hidden. There are no secrets. The whole town knows it, and we can just be in a normal relationship for however long they allow it to continue.”
Even though he was a pro football player, Lavon is anything but a Lothario in BlueBell. Instead, there’s a sweet, heartfelt quality to his romances.
“It’s a little bit of me melding with Lavon,” says Williams. “I love that fact. I love that he has this facade of being a big guy, but he gets to be a little boy and wear his heart on his sleeve. It makes sense because — we referenced it last year — that the idea of growing up and being an athlete, everything’s given to you. You don’t have to work at anything — so he’s never had to.
“People are automatically drawn to you. Women — it just becomes easy. So he’s never had to learn how to woo, to court, so it’s cool to explore that.”
Apparently, while Williams and Lavon are happy with AnnaBeth, many fans’ hearts tend elsewhere. That also goes for town Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson), who has longed for George but had a fling with local bartender Wade Kinsella (Wilson Bethel).
“The fans,” says Williams, “they’re tied to me and Lemon. Everybody wanted Zoe and George, and they wanted Lavon and Lemon. They still do. That’s what they were introduced to when the show started, and they’re tied to that understanding.
“But if that’s where the show goes, it’s probably going to be a while before we get to see that, because once that happens, you don’t have anywhere to go.”
Williams also has some thoughts about Zoe and Wade, who broke up because of Wade’s insecurities and infidelity.
“I think he will [grow up]. I think so,” says Williams. “I like them both. As a fan, I like the characters so much. They were cute when they were together. Even though it was the opposites-attract thing, I thought they were cute. She brought out the best in him; he loosened her up as well.
“I’d like to see them back together, but I want to see him grow up.”
Asked what Lavon’s advice to Wade should be, Williams says, “Honestly, just to grow up, to always count your blessings. Look at what you have, not that the grass is always greener. A lot of times, when people expect you to fail, you become what they expect. He’s guilty of that.
“The biggest thing is, the whole town now is against him, so the best thing Lavon can be is actually just be a friend. Wade knows he did wrong. It’s not a question of him not knowing. Everybody’s reminding him he did wrong, so he needs someone in his corner, or he’ll just leave.
“So, I’m going to be his friend.”
As for Lavon and Zoe — who, like Wade, is Lavon’s friend and tenant, Williams says, “They’re an ear for each other. Lavon doesn’t have any real insight into the whole female thing; she provides that. She honestly hasn’t had a lot of male experience before coming to BlueBell; he provides that.
“They’re just a support for each other, because as all the drama plays up and goes around, she’s always had Lavon as the one person in town who’s on her side. He’s a loyal friend. Loyalty is very important to him. They just provide confidantes for each other.”
But Williams can’t quite envision a romance for Lavon and Zoe.
“We sell it really well that this is a friendship,” he says. “People don’t really see it [as a romance]. We don’t even necessarily see it that way, until somebody poses the question, ‘When are you guys going to get together?’ It’s weird.
“Rachel and I talk about it. I hope they don’t do that. We have so much fun on set, and we have a hard time not laughing when we do scenes together — to have to do any type of intimate thing, I don’t think we’d get through it.”