TV got bigger this year. (Remember when everything seemed so much smaller?) New watercooler favorites broke onto the scene, from Grey's Anatomy to Prison Break, while familiar hits like CSI, Lost and Survivor just got better. As revelers prepare to usher out 2005 in grand style, here is what some of television's top stars have to say about their big breakthroughs.
Wentworth Miller, Prison Break
"This has been the biggest year of my professional life. I get to play ball with incredible character actors. When you're sharing screen time with Robert Knepper ("T-Bag"), Wade Williams (Bellick) or Peter Stormare (Abruzzi), you're just along for the ride. I remember watching Law & Order and thinking that Sam Waterston served up amazing work episode after episode. I told my representation to forget about feature films — if I can get on a series, how satisfying will that be? You're working with people you admire and you're on every week being appreciated. It's like winning the lottery. One in a million."
Patrick Dempsey, Grey's Anatomy
"When I left Maine, I always wanted to be a working actor. I never cared too much about being the star. I just wanted to do the work and get on with it. I enjoy that. And there's a lot of responsibility that comes with it — you have to keep your ego in check. There were a lot of years where I wasn't working and a lot of people didn't care about me. I'd go into rooms and people would turn away. Now it's all different. But I know it can very easily turn around again — a show goes off and people forget about you. Fame is fleeting, so enjoy the moment. Don't take it too seriously. And don't get too high on yourself."
Chris Rock, cocreator of Everybody Hates Chris
"Tyler James Williams [who plays young Chris] is so much cuter than I was. I was not a cute kid. I was in a really bad bicycle accident. I fell off the bike and messed up my mouth. My teeth were all over the place. I had braces, but we couldn't really afford to keep up with them, because you had to go in every week. At one point, I had to take the braces out myself because we couldn't really afford to go to the dentist. But if it wasn't for my particular childhood and the things that seemed harsh at the time, I wouldn't be in this place right now. I'm cool. I'm fine. I won."
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ghost Whisperer
"It's been a great year. I'm so excited to have found a project like Ghost Whisperer that I'm passionate about. It's great getting to go to work each day and do what I love and create a show I'm really proud of. My favorite [episode] was 'Lost Boys,' with the four little boys in the orphanage. It touched my heart so much, and I love working with kids. My favorite piece of dialogue is from the pilot, when Melinda looks at her husband and says, 'We're in the life business. Death is just a part of it.' I think that's exactly what our show is about. I hope people continue to enjoy the show and that we get renewed for another three years!"
Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Without a Trace
"There was a need to take my character, Vivian, in a different direction and give her some turmoil. They came up with a possibly fatal heart disease. It was great to have her raw and vulnerable. I love that stuff. People would stop me on the street to say, 'I hope they're not going to kill you off.' A few asked if I was actually sick. It was also a great year because my husband moved to L.A. from London and I ran my first marathon. I finished in four and a half hours."
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
"I wasn't looking to do TV again. And I certainly wasn't looking to do a show in L.A. But when my manager said The Closer was like Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren, I had to take a look. I read it and it was really interesting. Then I had such a miraculously wonderful time shooting the pilot that I thought, 'If it doesn't do well, I still had an amazing time and I met really wonderful people.' But people liked the show and it broke all these cable records. When I came home to New York, the reaction of people who told me how much they relate to this character couldn't be better in my wildest dreams. I hoped people would love her as much as I do, and they really do. I feel like I've been given this amazing gift that I didn't even know I was looking for."
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
"Gwyneth Paltrow was introducing a movie at a private screening and I was sitting around people that I was so intimidated by. Like David Bowie. How do you speak to David Bowie? And Gwyneth just kind of looks down at me and mouths the words 'I love your show.' This is while she's standing up in front of a large group of people. It was a very beautiful experience. And then, at the MTV Awards, her husband [Coldplay's Chris Martin] was in the middle of a song and he cupped his microphone so no one could hear and whispered something in my ear: 'You're f---ing brilliant.' It was like one of those moments where you go, 'Wow, wouldn't it be cool if Chris Martin just said that to me?' And it was, like, wait a minute, Chris Martin did just say that to me! It was just absolutely incredible."
Tyra Banks, America's Next Top Model, The Tyra Banks Show
"Careers are like cars. When you buy a car, it's bright red! It's the hot new thing! But the minute you drive it off the lot, it depreciates. I'm not interested in being a car. I'm interested in being a house. You buy a house, do repairs, you redecorate, refurbish. And the house continues to appreciate."
For even more remembrances, quotable quotes and highlights of the year gone by, pick up the Dec. 19 issue of TV Guide.