A high school athlete, Welling initially worked in construction and, in 1998, he successfully modeled men's clothing for several popular brands. In 2000, he made a successful transition to television. He has been nominated for and received several awards for his role as Clark Kent. In 2001, he had a recurring role as Rob "Karate Rob" Meltzer in the second season of the CBS drama Judging Amy. He has also been involved behind the camera as an executive producer and a director. His films include Cheaper by the Dozen, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Fog, and Draft Day.
Welling was born on April 26, 1977, in the lower Hudson Valley, New York. His family moved frequently, making stops in Wisconsin, Delaware, and Michigan. Welling attended Okemos High School in Okemos, Michigan, where he started acting in plays, but then switched into sports. Welling played baseball and soccer, but his favorite sport is basketball. Welling is one of four children with two older sisters, Rebecca and Jamie. His younger brother, Mark Welling, is also an actor.
Originally a construction worker, Welling was discovered in 1998 at a party in Nantucket by a catalog camera scout who suggested he try modeling. Welling modelled for Louisa Modeling Agency until 2000, when he relocated to Los Angeles. There he modelled for Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Calvin Klein while pursuing an acting career. In 2000, Welling appeared in Angela Via's music video "Picture Perfect" where he played Vía's love interest. Welling has stated that he did not like modelling and that he was not good at it because it was all on the outside or from an external point of view. He pursued acting because he wanted to express a range of emotions, but Welling still models occasionally and appeared in the May 2008 issue of Vogue, the so-called Superhero Issue. In his first major acting role, Welling played karate teacher Rob "Karate Rob" Meltzer, a younger love interest of Amy Gray (Amy Brenneman) in the second season of the CBS drama Judging Amy, which aired in 2001. Welling was originally signed for three episodes; after receiving enthusiastic fan reviews, the producers kept him for three more. Welling also had a small role in the UPN science fiction sitcom Special Unit 2, and he appeared in the pilot episode of the FOX sitcom Undeclared.
Welling was cast in the WB superhero drama Smallville after a nationwide search for an actor to play Clark Kent. In an interview with a teen magazine, Welling spoke about the day he auditioned for the role: "I was on my way back from the Warner Bros. studio, and I stopped in a gas station to call my manager and tell him how it went. I called and got him on the phone and he said, 'Can you hold on a second?' Next thing I know, there are literally seven people on the other line and almost in unison they say, 'Tom, you got it!'" The pilot aired in October 2001 and became the highest rated debut for The WB, with 8.4 million viewers. Welling told TV Guide that he turned down the lead role twice, but after reading the script, decided to take the job. Like Christopher Reeve, he was not a Superman fan prior to being cast as Clark Kent. In fact, he said, he continues to not read Superman comics: "I made a conscious decision to stay away from that material. We're doing something different at a time before all that, I don't want that to affect what I'm doing, even subconsciously." He did get the chance to meet two previous Superman actors: Christopher Reeve, who appeared in season 2: episode 17 titled "Rosetta", and Dean Cain, who appeared in season 7: episode 4 titled "Cure".
Welling was named one of People magazine’s "Breakthrough Stars of 2001", and also won the Teen Choice Award as "Choice Breakout Star (Male)" in 2002 for his role as Clark Kent. Following the third season, Welling was interviewed by Smallville Magazine and stated that if he could play one character on the show that was not Clark Kent, it would be Lex Luthor; "Lex Luthor! I wouldn’t mind having my head shaved – as an actor, [it is the ultimate,] getting to play the complete opposite of your character."
In 2004, Welling was approached about starring in the big screen adaptation of Superman when director Brett Ratner was attached to the project. Comic book artist Alex Ross even did two sketches of Welling as the "Man of Steel" to see what the actor would look like in the famous costume. In August 2009, Welling won another Teen Choice Award as "Choice TV Actor (Action Adventure)" for Smallville.
In December 2003, Welling made his feature film debut as Charlie Baker, the oldest son and second oldest in the Baker family which had 12 children, in the family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, which is a remake of the 1950 movie starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, based on Frank and Lillian Gilbreth's 1948 book. Welling talked about why he was interested in the project in an interview with Paul Fischer: "The top three reasons I decided to do this film were, one, Steve Martin, two, Steve Martin and three, Steve Martin. That was the number one draw for me. Then, after reading the script, I really liked this character, Charlie. I liked what he went through, what he had to go through, and I felt I understood where he was coming from. And I just wanted to be a part of it." Welling had always been a fan of Martin's and stated that he "absolutely loved" working with him.
In 2005, Welling co-starred in the horror film The Fog, a remake of John Carpenter's 1980 film of the same name, as Nick Castle (a character originally played by Tom Atkins). At the same time The Fog was in production, Welling was still working on the last few episodes of the fourth season of Smallville. The same year, he reprised his role as Charlie Baker in Cheaper by the Dozen 2.
In 2013, Welling co-starred in the all-star cast of Peter Landesman's historical drama Parkland, based on the book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by author Vincent Bugliosi. The story centers on the chaotic events that occurred at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. In 2014, Welling co-starred with Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella and Denis Leary in Ivan Reitman's sports drama Draft Day. He played a veteran quarterback whose career is at a crossroads.
For Smallville's ninth season, Welling served as a co-executive producer. He returned as Clark Kent for the show's tenth and final season in Fall 2010 and became a full executive producer, as credited in a May 20, 2010 press release by the CW.
Welling served as an executive producer on the CW comedy-drama Hellcats based on journalist Kate Torgovnick's book Cheer: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders. The series first aired on The CW beginning in the fall of 2010, and was cancelled on May 17, 2011.
Welling made his directorial debut in 2006, with Smallville, 5.18 "Fragile". He also directed 6.10 "Hydro", the show's 150th episode 7.18 "Apocalypse", 8.21 "Injustice", and the second part, "Legends", of the two-hour episode 9.11 "Absolute Justice". Later, he directed two episodes of Smallville's final season, 10.09 "Patriot" and 10.18 "Booster".
On July 5, 2002, Welling married model Jamie White-Welling in Martha's Vineyard with Welling's friends and then-current Smallville co-stars Kristin Kreuk and Michael Rosenbaum in attendance. Welling and White resided in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, but returned to Los Angeles in March 2011. On October 17, 2013, White filed for divorce from Welling, citing "irreconcilable differences". The divorce was finalized in November 2015. Since 2014, he dating Jessica Lee Rose.
|2003||Cheaper by the Dozen||Charlie Baker||Nominated – Teen Choice Award Choice Breakout Movie Star, Male|
|2005||Fog, TheThe Fog||Nicholas "Nick" Castle|
|2005||Cheaper by the Dozen 2||Charlie Baker|
|2013||Parkland||Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman|
|2014||Draft Day||Brian Drew|
|2016||The Choice||Dr. Ryan McCarthy||Based on the novel of same name|
|2001||Judging Amy||Rob Meltzer||Recurring role|
Episode 2.09 "The Undertow"
Episode 2.10 "Adoption Day"
Episode 2.11 "The Claw Is Our Master"
Episode 2.15 "The Treachery of Compromise"
Episode 2.16 "Everybody Falls Down"
Episode 2.19 "Between the Wanting and the Getting"
|2001||Special Unit 2||Male victim||Episode 1.06 "The Depths"|
|2001||Undeclared||Tom||Episode 1.01 "Prototype"|
|2001–2011||Smallville||Clark Kent/Superman||Main cast|
Choice TV Actor: Action Adventure (2009)
Teen Choice Award TV Choice Breakout Star, Male (2002)
Nominated – Choice TV Actor: Fantasy/Sci-Fi (2010-2011)
Nominated – Scream Awards Best Superhero (2010-2011)
Nominated – Choice TV Actor: Action Adventure (2003-2008)
Nominated – Teen Choice Award TV Choice Chemistry (shared w/Kristin Kreuk) (2006)
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television (2002-2006)
Nominated – TV Choice Actor, Drama (2002, 2005)
|2015||Man Fire Food||Himself||Episode"Backyard Blowouts"|
Episode 5.18 "Fragile"
Episode 6.10 "Hydro"
Episode 7.18 "Apocalypse"
Episode 8.21 "Injustice"
Episode 9.11 "Absolute Justice"
Episode 10.09 "Patriot"
Episode 10.18 "Booster"
22 episodes (Season 9)
22 episodes (Season 10)
18 episodes (Season 1)
|2000||"Picture Perfect"||Angela Via||Vía's love interest|