Premiering Monday Night: Rachel Bilson in Hart of Dixie

Fast-talking New Yorker and brand-new doctor Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) has it all figured out  — after graduating top of her class from medical school, she’ll follow in her father’s footsteps and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon.  But when her dreams fall apart, Zoe decides to accept an offer from a stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, to work with him at his small practice in Bluebell, Alabama.

Zoe arrives in this small Gulf Coast town only to find that Harley has passed away and left his half of the medical practice to her in his will.  She quickly finds that Southern hospitality isn’t always so hospitable — the other doctor in town, Brick Breeland, is less than pleased to be sharing the practice with this young outsider, and his daughter, Lemon (Jaime King), is a Southern belle whose sweet disposition turns sour when she meets Zoe.

Zoe is out of her element and ready to pack her bags, but a surprise visit by her snobby New York mother leads to Zoe’s decision to stay in Bluebell for a while, discovering small-town life and a side of herself she hadn’t known was there.

Now we talk to Rachel about why she chose to return to TV and why this project.

Why was the time right to come back to TV?

I knew if I came back it would be with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and this project, I was really drawn to it. I loved the characters, I loved the story and I loved all the characters around her.

Can you describe your character?

My character is Dr. Zoe Hart and what I really, really liked about her is she’s a very smart, intelligent, independent woman, but she’s motivated, and she doesn’t stop at anything to get what she wants.  She doesn’t have the best sort of tact, and her ‑‑ she’s not very polite, no bedside manner, or any of that stuff.  So it’s kind of fun to play with.  But I just really liked that she was this woman that was so strong and so sure in everything she does, and then she’s thrown into this situation, the fish-out-of-water, which is always fun to play.  But she’s definitely New York City through and through that, and that shows in clothes and shoes and everything that feels out of place in Bluebell, Alabama.

How does it feel to carry a show?

To me, it feels like an ensemble.  I think there are so many different relationships going on, and the characters are awesome. I don’t feel any pressure because I really feel like it’s a group effort and everyone is so fantastic.  I realize it is Hart of Dixie and Zoe Hart, but it is a group effort, and it really is a family.  So there’s no pressure.

Is the fish-out-of-water aspect what appeals to you?

I love that. I like being in an unfamiliar environment. I like the challenges it presents. I like the humor. My biggest thing was comedy, so I like that there was a humor element to it.

Have you done a lot of comedy?

Comedy is my No. 1 love.

Are we ever going to see you in crinolines?

No. Definitely not. But there are definitely a lot of them on the show.

You are playing a doctor, so did do any research?

I did witness a surgery and I do have doctors in my family, so that helped.

Can you talk about how Zoe is like you and how she is different?

It is hard to say because we are at the beginning, so I am not completely familiar with her, but you do put yourself into every character.

Hart of Dixie premieres Monday night at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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