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

Advertisements




Exclusive: Get To Know Mike Grubbs of One Tree Hill and Wakey!Wakey!

31 01 2010

Among One Tree Hill’s crop of fresh faces this season is Grubbs, a bartender at Tric. If you’re wondering where the name comes from (Is he supposed to be grubby? Chubby? Just an odd duck?), meet Mike Grubbs, the actor who plays him.

In our exclusive interview, Grubbs explains how his band Wakey!Wakey! led to a role on One Tree Hill, who his character may or may not get together with and how he uses Twitter to interact with his growing fanbase.

TeenDramaWhore: Let’s start at the very beginning. How did you first get involved with the show?

Mike Grubbs: It’s actually a very interesting story, Shari. A friend of [OTH creator] Mark Schwahn’s saw me play. She called Mark and said, “When you’re in New York next time, let me know. I’ll arrange it so this guy plays where you’re at.” Mark came to town and I got a call the night of. I was actually out on a date at the time and I got a call saying, “We need you to go to this place to play for Mark” and I was like, “Well, actually, you know, it’s kind of a bad night for me.” At that time I didn’t know Mark but they explained to me who he was and everything. So I said, “Yeah. Okay. I might as well try it.” But I was on a date so it took me a little while to get out there. Mark sat at this open mic night for three hours waiting to hear me play, which is pretty amazing. Most record executives, the way they handle hearing someone play for them  is you’ll fly out to where they are and go to their office and sit in some cold waiting room until whenever they’re ready to let you in and do the audition. They’ll give you maybe about 5 minutes of their time usually but Mark came and sat for 3 hours to hear me play at this open mic in Brooklyn, which just kind of points to the fact that he’s doing something right. I think that’s why shows like One Tree Hill get such good music and good people. So he came and saw me play. He was really into the songs I played and he said, “I really want to use those on the show.” So the first song was “War Sweater” and he used that on the season finale last year [Episode 6.24, Remember Me As A Time Of Day].

Then Mark and I just really became friends. It wasn’t about a professional relationship for us. When he came to New York, we’d hang out. When I went to L.A., we’d hang out. And then he was here a few months ago and we were finishing this new album we working on so I called him and said, “Hey man, I want to play you my new album,” just ‘cause he’s my friend. So we sat down and I played it for him and he was like, “I’m really into this. I really like this music and I want to help you release it. Why don’t I write you a few cameos on the show and we’ll try to have you perform on the show and bring as much attention to the project as we can?” And I was like, “Oh, this is amazing!” He knew I was a bartender–I was bartending at the time–so he wrote this little cameo for me as the bartender on the show and that went really well so that led to another. They wrote me into the next episode and then the next one and the next thing you know, now I’m Grubbs on the show and kind of a regular occurrence on it. It’s kind of cool.

TDW: How familiar were you with the show previously?

Grubbs: I had watched the earlier seasons of the show but had fallen out of touch with it for a while. I love TV and I love to watch TV but I’m kind of more of a sci-fi nerd. I really like Battlestar Galactica and nerdy stuff like that. Lost. Those are my shows. So the drama stuff hadn’t really been as much on my radar for a while so I didn’t really know what I was getting into. It was really cool to see once I actually started researching the show and catching up on what was going on. It changed so much and was so good. They had these really exciting new characters and I was just really proud to be a part of the show at this point.

TDW: It’s funny because a lot people didn’t know you were an actual musician. I saw some comments online saying, “Wait–was the bartender the guy at the piano at the end of that episode?” when you performed “Brooklyn” [Episode 7.12, Some Roads Lead Nowhere]. People explained to them that, yes, it was the character of Grubbs at the piano but the actor is also Mike Grubbs who has his own band.

Grubbs: Everyone started to piece it together. I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen but I think it might become more clear to people in the next few episodes what my part is in everything.

TDW: Was there ever a question of what name to give the character or was it just Grubbs from the outset?

Grubbs: Mark had always known me as Grubbs. That was my nickname throughout college. So it was like, what kind of bartender name can they give me? And I guess at that point, the natural name was just Grubbs. I mean, that’s who I am and he wanted the character to be as much like me as possible. So that was pretty locked in pretty early.

TDW: You were in a few episodes before we actually saw you perform rather than have that aspect of your character revealed right off the bat. Do you know what went into that decision?

Grubbs: I just think it’s something that’s maybe more exciting for the viewers, to watch the growth of the character that way. I also think, in all honesty, that Mark just wanted to make sure that I didn’t completely suck before he put me on as this character. The fact that I started as just this bartender gives us a little more arc to the character, makes it a little more exciting. But that’s really who I am. I’ve been this guy who is working every day and living a really real, normal existence just tending bar and working like everyone else. I’m not someone who’s just a musician. It kind of humanizes the character as well.

TDW: You are, without a doubt, the most recognizable face of Wakey!Wakey! but the other people you play with, what have they said about your experiences on the show?

Grubbs: They’re really stoked about it. They, of course, love the attention it brings to the project and everything. It’s really fun. The first episode I was ever on, we got together and it was just a small group of friends. They were all really close friends to me because I didn’t want it to be–like all of my friends came to me and said, “We have to throw a huge party! You’re going to be on TV!” and all this stuff. Everyone was really excited. But I wanted it to be quiet because I wanted people to actually watch the show. I didn’t want it to be a raging party with the TV on in the background and then we’d just miss it. So we kept it really small but the majority of the band was there for that. They’re super-supportive, they’re super into it and they’re really excited about it. They’re proud of me and they’re happy. It’s cool.

TDW: Can you give us any hints on what’s coming up with Grubbs and how many more episodes you’ll be in?

Grubbs: I don’t really know for a fact but I think you’re going to be seeing a fair amount more of me. But as far as what’s going to happen to my character, all I can say is of the scripts I’ve read so far, it’s really cool and it’s really exciting. People are going to love it.

TDW: There’s two little fandoms brewing. There’s some people who think Grubbs and Miranda [India de Beaufort] are going to have something going on.

Grubbs: I’ve definitely heard that one.

TDW: And there’s others that are looking for some cougar action with Victoria [Daphne Zuniga].

Grubbs: Yeah, you know, I’ve actually seen people suggest that. I saw another one suggesting I get together with Sophia Bush [Brooke], which is really funny because I love that people not only want to pair me with Brooke but her mother as well! I love that people are speculating about it because it means maybe I’m doing my job well or the writers are doing their job well and people are excited about it. As far as who my character will end up with, man, I think that all of those actresses you just mentioned are the coolest chicks in the world and I would be thrilled to be with any of them.

TDW: That’s a great answer. So what would you say has been the easiest thing working on the show, the most difficult and the most surprising?

Grubbs:I would say the easiest part of working on the show has been how accepting the cast has been of me. The first night that I got down there, James Lafferty [Nathan], Stephen Colletti [Chase] and Shantel VanSanten [Quinn]–and, actually, I think Robert Buckley [Clay] was there as well. All these people came out. I think Mark set it up so that everyone I was working on my first scene with came out to meet me so I would be comfortable with everyone the next day and they would know who I was. Honestly, they are just the most accepting and wonderful people you can ever think of working with.

That actually leads really well to the next question, the most difficult part of working on the show. It’s funny because the most difficult part of the show for me is getting used to acting on camera. I have an actual background in theater and I’ve done a lot of acting before as a theater actor but never as a screen actor so the changeover to that has been really challenging for me. I really feel lucky to have such great people on set with me and working with me to kind of teach me. The scenes that I have with India or Sophia or [Bethany Joy Galeotti, Haley], there’s always sweet, little hints that they give me. You know, “Keep your eyes up here,” “Make sure the camera catches this kind of thing”–things that you really want to look out for when filming these kind of things and it’s really amazing how much they’ve helped me. So the most difficult thing has been getting used to filming.

The most surprising thing I think was definitely how big the production scale is. I knew what One Tree Hill was, I had seen the show before and I knew Mark and all that stuff but you never can imagine what it’s like to be on set and in the process of filming until you’re there. There’s literally like a hundred crew members, a hundred extras. There’s things flying around past your head–cameras, lights, everything. It’s really overwhelming. So probably the scale of it is the most surprising thing.

TDW: Do you have any favorite anecdotes from the set or from hanging out with everyone?

Grubbs: Wow. There’s just so many great moments we have down there. When the cast goes out, it’s always a blast because everyone is super cool. We really are like a family. My favorite anecdote ever would be the first episode that I did down there [Episode 7.09, Now You Lift Your Eyes To The Sun]. Like I said before, it was completely overwhelming to me. The first day I walked on set, I didn’t know where I could go or what I could do, what was off-limits, when I was making a fool of myself. It was a whole different world and I didn’t know the etiquette of it or anything. As the day went on, I slowly became more comfortable and suddenly, before I knew it, the day was over and the episode was over for me. The first episode I was in, it was just a very small scene. So they wrapped the day and Mark Schwahn was on set and Sophia Bush was directing and, as they wrapped, finishing my last take, I didn’t really know what was going on because they do so many different takes and so many different angles and everything so I didn’t know if they were turning around or whatever and then one of the guys that works with us and says “Hey, man. That’s it for the day. You did a great job. We’re all done.” And I was like, “Okay, cool” and I kind of had a “That’s it?” moment, you know, where I was like, “Okay, well, I guess I go home now and I don’t know if I’ll ever be back” because at first it was just like a one episode cameo. So I was slowly kind of wandering off set, not knowing where to go or what to do and I heard someone yell from the other side of the room–to this day, I’m not sure who it was. I don’t know if it was Mark. I don’t know if it was Sophia. Austin Nichols [Julian] was on set that day; it could’ve been him. It could’ve been one of the other producers. All the guys that work on the show are just so cool. But somebody yells, “Hey, everybody! Can you just stop what you’re doing”–and, literally, at this point there’s like a 100 crew members on set and a 100 extras so I’m in a room with 200 people and everyone stops and turns around–“Can everyone please put their hands together for Michael Grubbs. It’s his first day ever on set, wrapping his first-ever episode” and the whole room just burst out. By that time I was friends with everybody and everyone was cheering for me. That was probably the coolest moment ever in the whole process so far.

TDW: That’s sweet. How is Wilmington treating you? It’s a bit different than Brooklyn…

Grubbs: Wilmington is quite different from Brooklyn. But it’s a really cool town. I don’t think people realize how great they have it there. The people that I’ve met, the locals and stuff, are all super sweet and super kind. There’s some really cool bars, some really cool restaurants down there, too. It’s a great scene. There’s some great little clothing stores. There’s a little place called Edge of Urge that I try to hit once every time I’m down there. They have great clothes. It’s funny that I would go all the way to Wilmington to buy clothes when I live in Brooklyn, a place where there’s so many great stores and stuff but that’s just something in Wilmington they do really well.

TDW: What’s next for Wakey!Wakey!?

Grubbs: The next thing we have coming out is this album on February 2nd. It’s called “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You.” It’s our first real live studio album and we’re super proud of it. We got really great distribution so it’s going to be widely available and just kind of another introduction of Wakey!Wakey! to America so I’m really excited to see how that goes and get that out there.

TDW: You’ve done a great job of capitalizing on social media tools like Twitter and video blogs. What value do you think they have?

Grubbs: I think there’s a big difference between actors and musicians. One of the big differences is actors, unless they’re trying to build some general form of celebrity, really want their social media to be private because they’re not trying to brand themselves. They’re trying to get people to watch the show that they’re on. They don’t really want people to take as much interest in them. For someone like myself–or India’s actually in the same boat. She’s a fantastic singer and has a MySpace page and has a lot of great music on it. For someone like her or someone like me, using Twitter, using blogs, using MySpace and different outlets to get to people to kind of spread the word of what we’re doing with the band and other stuff is a totally vital tool. I want people to know me. I want people to know my band. I want people to feel comfortable with me and my music and everything. One Tree Hill fans are so cool and so supportive of the show and they work really hard to find music. If a song’s on the show, everybody goes and finds it, which is just amazing. If they like it on the show, they talk about it and they get out there and they’re asking about it. They have just such a great community online, I’d be stupid not to talk to them and try and put my name out there as much as possible and get people to see me and follow me on Twitter and come to my Facebook page. So I think social networking is just vital. Not to mention the way it allows me to interact with the fans and just kind of connect with them; it’s really cool. I would say it’s absolutely a vital tool for anyone and definitely something to watch. So I hope everyone comes and follows me on Twitter!

TDW: You’ve had people send you questions through Twitter that you then answer through videoblogs on your Tumblr. How did that start?

Grubbs: The first day I was on set, my manager told me our goal should be to answer every question we got on Twitter and kind of let all the other stuff go. The first appearance I had on the show, the response was pretty overwhelming. We got hundreds of letters and stuff. So to respond to everyone was pretty possible. I sat down and tried to respond to all the tweets one by one and it took me like a week. I finally got it done and I went to my manager and was like, “There’s no way I can do this. There’s no way I can make this my life because all I would do is sit there and answer tweets.” So we decided the best way to do it would be to do the series “Ask Grubbs.” Basically every Wednesday what we do is I’ll sit down and pick some random questions from Twitter–I can’t answer them all but I’ll pick as many as I can–and answer them on a videoblog. So every Wednesday they can come check it out and maybe they’ll see me answer their question on the blog. It’s kind of cool that way. It’s a great way for me to easily connect with people. For instance, on the last one that I posted, there was a girl that said she fell down and hurt her leg and she was at home with ice on it listening to Wakey!Wakey!. Such a sweet, sweet little message and for me to tweet back to that seems kind of shallow. To just say, “Oh, thanks. I hope your leg feels better” seems empty. So if I get to actually go on camera and say, “Hey, you! Thank you for listening to us and I’m glad that we’re making you feel better,” it feels a lot more direct.

Come back tomorrow night after One Tree Hill to find out how you can win an autographed copy of “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You” and get a shout-out on Grubbs’  blog.

Then come back next week for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index








%d bloggers like this: