Exclusive: James Lafferty on the Past, Present and Future of One Tree Hill

25 04 2010

In 2003, television viewers met Nathan Scott, a cute but cocky, athletic but academically-challenged high school junior. In the nearly seven real-time years that have passed, we’ve slowly seen Nathan transform into a handsome but humble, career-minded but family-focused husband and father.

Who will Nathan be in another year? James Lafferty, who spoke with me earlier this week about the past, present and future of One Tree Hill, hopes we’ll be able to find out. But before we could get to that, Lafferty turned the tables on me. See for yourself…

James Lafferty: So you’re TeenDramaWhore.com.

TeenDramaWhore: What do you think of the name?

Lafferty: That’s such an admission of guilt! It’s good, though. It’s straight to the point so people know what they’re getting.

TDW: That’s right. I admit I am obsessed with teen dramas and I wanted to create a place for fans just like me to discuss the shows.

Lafferty: Is that going well for you?

TDW: It’s going great. I love it. And I love getting to interview people like you!

Lafferty: Awesome. So where do we rank on your teen drama list?

TDW: Oh, goodness. That’s such a hard question!

Lafferty: I get to ask you one hard question and you get to ask me 20 easy ones.

TDW: Okay. I’ll take that deal. I would say you guys are in a three-way tie for number one.

Lafferty: Alright.

TDW: My all-time favorite is the original 90210. But tied with it would be Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill.

Lafferty: So we’re in a three-way tie with 90210 and Dawson’s Creek?

TDW: Yes.

Lafferty: Oh, c’mon! You can’t ask for anything more than that. That’s the hall of fame right there!

TDW: That is the hall of fame. So, of the current shows on right now, that means you win.

Lafferty: That does mean we win. Okay, I’m happy with that.

TDW: Great! My turn! There are just four episodes left in One Tree Hill’s seventh season. How would you describe them?

Lafferty: You know, I have only seen the finale. But I think all the episodes are going to come together really well. We had sort of an all-star lineup of directors for the last few. Pete Kowalski directed one. He’s been our director of photography for so long and has directed episodes before. He’s phenomenal. [Executive producer] Greg Prange directed one and he’s just a veteran. He knows the show so well. As a director, the only person who knows the show better is probably [creator] Mark Schwahn. And Schwahn directed the finale. So we’ve got a lot of really strong episodes coming up for the audience to look forward to.

TDW: Greg worked on Dawson’s Creek before One Tree Hill.

Lafferty: Yes, he did. It’s funny–Dawson’s Creek was actually shooting their finale when we shot our pilot back in 2003. Greg was still working on Dawson’s at the time and was not involved in our show. But once [The WB] picked us up and we were coming to Wilmington, it seemed like a great fit to have Greg Prange and [producer] David Hartley come on and sort of help guide us here in Wilmington.

TDW: That’s awesome. I really love how these two fantastic teen dramas have come out of that one area, with the same soundstages and everything.

Lafferty: I think it’s a testament to the area, to Wilmington. It inspires and encourages this really great, classic, sort of American setting. I think that’s why so many productions come here.

TDW: That’s right. So one thing in the promos for the upcoming episodes that has everyone talking is that Haley [Bethany Joy Galeotti] doesn’t seem like she’s doing too well. Do you have anything comforting you can say to the fans about that?

Lafferty: Yeah, absolutely. Haley is obviously grieving because she’s lost her mom but these things, it’s like “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” I think Haley’s journey through this process is going to bring the Scott family unit together and also her friends are going to have to be there for her. So what that means from an audience standpoint is you’re going to see the whole group sort of banding together to make it through this and it’s going to be a really positive experience.

TDW: What is it about Naley, do you think, that has earned the couple such loyal fans?

Lafferty: I think, to start with, the likelihood of the situation, of Nathan and Haley coming together, was so small. In our first few episodes, the characters were worlds apart. It didn’t seem like it would be a good fit. But sort of against all odds, they continued to make it work over the years and they fought through adversity. I think they’ve become a couple that you don’t take for granted because they’ve been up against so much. So you root for them.

TDW: People are rooting for them. I think they root for Jamie [Jackson Brundage], too. One thing that has stuck out to me is that a lot of people have said this season how quickly Jackson is growing up before our very eyes. And it got me thinking that you kind of grew up on the screen before us, too. Weren’t you just 17 when you were cast in the show?

Lafferty: Yeah. I hadn’t turned 18 yet. I did my senior year of high school during the pilot. I was out here [in Wilmington] with my mom for three weeks shooting the pilot.. And then the next time I was here was when the show got picked up and we were shooting the first episode. I was 18 and I was out here on my own in an apartment. I lived with Brett Claywell, who played Tim on the show. I always say that One Tree Hill has kind of been my college. I guess now that means I am working on my master’s degree or maybe my Ph.D.

TDW: Maybe. Seven years is a long time.

Lafferty: It is a long time. And I’ve been thankful for every year. I’d be grateful for another one.

TDW: Next week, I believe, is the show’s 150th episode.

Lafferty: Oh, that’s right. Greg Prange, fittingly, directed our 150th episode. We had a little impromptu celebration on set when we wrapped that episode.

TDW: Did you? That’s great.

Lafferty: Yeah. It’s such a good milestone. For me, it’s just as big as 100. Not a lot of shows go for 150 episodes. The fact that we have seven complete seasons–we never had a season that just went for 13; we’ve had seven very complete seasons–it kind of blows my mind to think about it.

TDW: When you look back on the all the stories you’ve done in 150 episodes, what stands out to you? Do you have a favorite storyline or episode?

Lafferty: I’ve got a couple. There’s just like these “moments.” When we shot the state championship episode [Episode 4.09, Some You Give Away], that was huge. We went to Raleigh and we shot in N.C. State’s arena. I think it’s called the RBC Center. Greg Prange directed that episode. We were up against it. We had not a lot of time to shoot it. We had to be out of that RBC Center by a certain time. We just had a mountain of set-ups to shoot for all the basketball action. It was really a testament to the work this crew can do. Brendan Kirsch, who does all the sports coordination, pulled everything together and we really made those two days happen. We got an amazing episode out of it, amazing basketball action. And that was so gratifying for me, because I was so connected to the basketball part of it. Then another one is sort of a basketball one as well, when Nathan took the court at the Bobcats arena [Episode 6.24, Remember Me As A Time Of Day] for the NBA. We went to Charlotte to shoot that and we actually went and shot half-time at a game. They said, “You have four minutes to get what you need.”

TDW: Oh, wow.

Lafferty: Literally, in four minutes, we ran out there, took a steady cam out there and we had all of our guys dressed in Bobcats clothing. There were 26,000 fans in the arena. The announcer came on and announced Nathan Scott. All the graphics were up all over the screens. It was just this surreal moment when I literally felt like I had won the lottery. That just doesn’t happen. For me, it’s always been a dream to take the court at an NBA game and even though it didn’t “really” happen, just even shooting that and being in front of that many people, having that moment happen for the character, was just really awesome. So those are just a couple of moments that stand out for me as really defining times.

TDW: Speaking of the basketball, this season, we haven’t really seen you play outside of the River Court. If we get a season 8, will Nathan get back to that?

Lafferty: I don’t know. Possibly. It’s difficult to say where Nathan in particular is headed in his career. He could continue playing for the NBA. He could realize he really cherishes his time and loves his time being a father and a husband and wants to be close to his family. I think Nathan will always be involved in basketball. Basketball will always be a part of his life. But in what way has yet to be defined.

TDW: I know you’ve been back a few weeks already but you guys went to Utah to film the finale. I imagine it took you out of your comfort zone a little bit because it’s not the Wilmington weather and it’s certainly not the California weather.

Lafferty: We were definitely out of our element. It was funny–we actually had one of the coldest winters ever here in Wilmington this past winter. It had just started getting warm here and we decided to go to Utah. I called it “chasing winter.” We basically chased the winter to Utah and got back into that really cold environment. We had this hybrid crew of local Utah people and the people from Wilmington we brought out. That worked really well. There were a lot of things we were up against that could’ve hurt us or held us back a little bit but we got through it and we got everything done, got everything we needed. Mark Schwahn got us to do some really good days. It was a great experience.

TDW: What have you heard about a season 8?

Lafferty: I’ve tried not to pay too much attention to it because there’s so much speculation. There’s hundreds of questions and no answers. It’s really hard. If you listen to everything that’s out there, and if you really invest in everything that’s said, it can be emotionally taxing. We’re talking about our lives here. I think for me, I’m trying to sit back and just wait. I’ve heard a couple of different things here and there but for me, it still seems to be a coin toss. I think the fan support really does help. So if you’re a fan of the show, continue to voice your support.

TDW: If this is the last season of the show, what would you want the show’s legacy to be?

Lafferty: Well, I think the show’s legacy is already defined. I think the way that you put it at the beginning of this interview, of you ranking us up there with 90210 and Dawson’s Creek, that’s really our show’s legacy. I think we’re going to go down as one of those great teen dramas that hopefully a generation identified with. That’s really what I hope for. That people look back on the show and say “That was a sign of the times.”

TDW: What message would you want to give to the fans?

Lafferty: I’m a sucker for happy endings. I would like to leave the fans with a happy ending. I think we go to the movies, we watch our TVs so we can be told stories and I would love for our story to be one that ends positively.

Come back tomorrow night at 8pm eastern for my live-blog of One Tree Hill 7.19, Every Picture Tells A Story.

Be sure to also come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview.

TDW Interview Index

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Get Ready for One Tree Hill Season 7!

12 09 2009

We’re days away from One Tree Hill’s season 7 premiere!

Here’s what you need to know about last season:

After season 5 ended with a massive cliff-hanger–which girl did Lucas ask to marry him?–it is revealed that Peyton is the one Luke called and they travel to Las Vegas to get married. Realizing they want their friends and family to witness the nuptials, Leyton returns to Tree Hill where they move in together.  A few months later, Peyton finds out she’s pregnant but soon suffers complications.  The duo decide to follow the motto of carpe diem and pull-off a last-minute wedding.  The wedding night takes a disastrous turn when Peyton suffers yet another pregnancy complication but it leads to the birth of the beautiful and healthy Sawyer Brooke Scott.  We last see a happy Leyton and baby Sawyer driving in The Comet..

Earlier in the season, Lucas is ecstatic when he finds out An Unkindness of Ravens will be made into a movie.  He’s thrown for a loop, however, when the producer ends up being Peyton’s ex, Julian Baker.  Julian decides not to cause any trouble with Leyton and instead works peacefully with Lucas on the film.  After finding a director and casting the lead roles, the film is shut down.

Peyton finds out who her birth father is but is unable to forge a relationship with him.  She continues to work with Mia (who starts dating Brooke’s ex, Chase) on her music career, and helps Haley resume hers.

Brooke gets off to a bumpy start when she is assualted one night at Clothes Over Bros.  Convinced her mother is responsible for the attack, the two drift further apart.  Brooke’s faith in herself and humanity is restored when she takes in Sam, one of Haley’s troubled young students.  The two adjust to living together and develop a mother-daughter dynamic, which comes to an end when Sam decides to live with her birth mother.

Throughout this, Brooke continues to find happiness in her love life.  She rejects Owen when he comes back to town, and reluctantly starts a relationship with Julian.  Despite his efforts to convince her how much he loves her, Brooke is apprehensive to commit.  In the finale, she mends her relationship with her mother and ultimately decides Julian is one the for her and goes to him to declare her love.

Haley, Nathan and Jamie find life as they know it disrupted when Quentin–Haley’s student, Nathan’s motivator and Jamie’s role model–is murdered.  Haley is fired from her job as a teacher at Tree Hill High after she refuses to censor one of Sam’s essays. Nathan, in an effort to make his way back to the NBA, plays Slamball before realizing it is too dangerous for him.  He joins a minor league team and, in the finale, is called up to the NBA as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats.  Jamie’s growing pains include dealing  a school bully and his first crush, finding out the truth about Grandpa Dan’s past and being nearly kidnapped by Nanny Carrie (again).

Dan faces struggles in almost every aspect of his life: he’s kidnapped and tortured by Nanny Carrie, his sons still refuse to have anything to do with him and his heart conditions worse.  Add on an explosive confrontation with ex-wife Deb, and it makes for one trying year in the life of Dan Scott.

Speaking of Deb, she breaks up with Skills who takes it badly and first but rebounds with Jamie’s teacher, Miss Lauren.

Mouth and Millicent take a big step and move in together, but their relationship progress is thrawted when Gigi coms back to town and tries to get with Mouth.  After some time apart, Mouth is able to win Millicent back and they resume their relationship.

The season ends with everyone (except for Dan, perhaps) in a state of happiness and satisfaction.

Come back tomorrow for an exclusive One Tree Hill interview and come back Monday night at 8pm eastern for a live-blog of the season 7 premiere!





Spoiler: Watch with Kristin OTH Edition

15 05 2009

RELEVANT QUESTIONS–DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!!!

Danielle in Brookvale, NSW, Australia: Please tell me Brooke and Julian get together!? It’s about time there is a happy ending for Brooke. So far this season she has had her company, lost her company, had Sam, lost Sam, had Julian, lost Julian and officially lost Lucas to Peyton. Please give Brooke some love!
It’s sweet how concerned you are about Brooke’s future…and rightly so. The poor girl has been to hell and back this season—don’t forget that break-in and beating! Luckily, TPTB over in Tree Hill took note and her happy ending is on the way. Julian is back in the finale and it looks like B. Davis is finally getting her fairy-tale “movie” ending. And who better to give it to her than the Hollywood director himself? We’re just sayin’.

Jaymes in Oakland: Since Katie Voegle’s CD is coming out in real life too, is Mia going to stick around Tree Hill?
Mia and Chase (Stephen Coletti) are still going strong, but she is getting ready to hit the road to promote her new album. In the finale, Chase shows up at Mia’s CD signing and what she writes definitely makes for an awww-worthy moment. No word yet on if the duo will be back in the restructured show next year.

Joan in Los Angeles: I can’t imagine One Tree Hill without Hilarie Burton and Chad Michael Murray. I hope they didn’t really leave because of money issues!
While we can’t speak for CMM (although that video from a few months back spoke volumes), our best frenemy scored an interview with Hilarie after the news of her departure broke, and it sounds like at least her departure from the show was pretty amicable. Hilarie said, “Everyone was kind of agreeable about the situation. There were a lot of really wonderful conversations. It wasn’t a rash decision; a lot of thought, emotion and kindness was put into it. I would hope that that‘s the story that gets out.”

What about Nick Lachey? Is he coming back for more?
If you mean is there any more “Nick Lachey-ing” in the finale, thankfully, no. The former pop star’s last appearance of the season was last week, but if you just can’t get enough of their constant first-and-last-name-calling of Nick Lachey, check out this week’s Condensed Soup on E! Online for Joel McHale‘s take on the cameos. Hilarious!

lc_mundell: Does Ashley Rickards (Sam) make an appearance at all in the One Tree Hill finale? You said everything ends so pleasantly, and I can’t imagine Brooke having a happy ending that doesn’t involve Sam.
Unfortunately Sam doesn’t come back, but there is a sweet moment with Brooke talking to Sam on the phone. Like we said before, don’t worry about Brooke’s happy ending. It’s on the way.

Amyjbennett: We know that James Lafferty filmed with the NBA’s Bobcats.  Is that a dream sequence?
Interesting question, Amy. If by dream sequence you mean a scene that is dream-like because Nathan can’t believe it’s true, then yes, Nathan joining the Bobcats is a dream sequence.

Karen Novak: I would like to know if Dan Scott lives or if they are going to have him die? Please don’t have him die as he adds so much to the show and his relationship with Jamie is adorable.
Dan is still alive and kicking, but definitely still struggling with his conscience. In fact, the finale finds him in the company of a familiar—and beloved—former Tree Hill face who becomes a surprising ally in the birth of a new Dan Scott. In fact, two former castmembers are back for the finale. Guesses?

Sabrina in Prescott, Ariz: Is Millicent leaving Mouth behind and moving to New York? How could Brooke do that to them!
Don’t worry about this adorkable couple. They’ll survive whatever unexpected changes come to Clothes Over Bros.

Jessica: If Lucas and Peyton aren’t coming back to One Tree Hill, do they at least get a proper send-off?
That has been the topic of discussion this week and in our opinion, the answer is yes. If you haven’t already heard, cover your eyes now: Peyton and baby Scott beat the odds and live happily ever after in the finale. Okay, so it’s not that cut-and-dried, but after all of the heartache and loss Peyton has survived during six seasons of OTH, this final episode is a cakewalk. All elements of Lucas-Peyton saga are present in their final scene and we even get the traditional Chad Michael Murray voiceover. Fans are not left with a big question mark ending for Leyton. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that they do get their happily ever after.





Spoiler: Mega Buzz

1 04 2009

RELEVANT QUESTIONS–DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!!!

You said in a recent Mega Minute that One Tree Hill‘s Nathan gets an offer to play basketball in Europe. Please say he doesn’t accept! I need my “Naley” intact. — Bess
MATT: Maybe, just maybe, the Scotts’ marriage will dodge that bullet if Nathan instead gets recruited by a very local NBA team — which this photo seems to suggest. Then again, those Tree Hill kids have always been big dreamers.

Reader Quote of the Week: “Please for the love of god, kill Nate. If [Gossip Girl is] gonna jump the shark, the least they could do is have him die in a freak hair straightening accident.” (asho902, weighing in on Gossip Girl‘s flirtation with the Shark)








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