Exclusive Interview: James Lafferty of 'One Tree Hill'
Exclusive Interview: James Lafferty of 'One Tree Hill'
BuddyTV interviews James Lafferty, who plays Nathan Scott on One Tree Hill.

Even when he's kissing evil nannies or simmering in rage due to temporary paralysis, Nathan remains one of the most grounded, relatable characters on One Tree Hill.  His relationship with Haley forms the emotional backbone of the show, and the Scott family only became more interesting with the addition of Jamie in season 5.  The next few episodes of the series will find Nathan joining a Slamball team, which he hopes will get him back on the path toward NBA glory.

I recently had a chance to sit down with James Lafferty to discuss what's coming up for his character.  He talked about filming the Slamball scenes, what's in the future for Nathan and Haley, and whether Dan's recent heroics will get him back in his son's good graces.  Read on for the mp3 and complete transcript of the interview.

This is Don with BuddyTV, and today I'm talking to James Lafferty, who plays Nathan on One Tree Hill.  Nathan is going to be getting involved in a Slamball league pretty soon.  Can you talk a little bit about what Slamball is and how he's going to get involved in that?

Slamball is sort of a hybrid sport.  It's a mix between football, basketball and hockey with trampolines thrown in.  It's a full-contact sport, so it's pretty rough.  It's a really exciting, high-octane sport.  The character of Nathan is trying to make his return to the world of professional basketball, and he's running into a bunch of dead ends, because nobody wants to take a gamble on him because of his injury a while back.  He needs to prove his physicality again, so he decides to take the opportunity offered to him to play Slamball, to kind of showcase his athletic ability and the fact that he's back.


How is it different for you filming the Slamball scenes compared to your regular basketball scenes?

It's much different.  We use the same choreographer, Brendan Kirsch, that choreographs basketball.  Brendan Kirsch was actually one of the original coaches of Slamball, and it's sort of how he segued into the entertainment business.  We had the opportunity to have a seasoned Slamball veteran coach choreographing the actual Slamball, so it went really smooth, the transition from basketball to Slamball.  Actually shooting it, it's worlds different.  It's a different floor, you're not on a hardwood floor, it's a spring-loaded wooden floor, and all the plays and all the action are on trampolines that are underneath the basket.  I've never had to choreograph hits before, but Slamball is a full-contact sport when you're on an open floor, so guys are just getting taken out, checked against the boards, checked to the floor, things like that.  It was definitely a whole different monster, but it was a lot of fun.


Do they let you do all of that yourself, or do you have a stunt person who has to do that?

They had to use a double for me for one setup.  I won't give away what it is, but I think the fans will probably know.  As far as all the Slamball playing, I was able to do all of that myself.  I was pretty excited about that.


Is Nathan using the opportunity to get the attention of NBA, or is he going to stick with the Slamball for a while?

That remains to be seen.  I think Nathan's ultimate goal is the NBA, to play professional basketball and get back to the level that he was at before he got injured.  Slamball isn't necessarily the way to achieve that goal, but I think Nathan's going to stick with it as long as he's physically able to, and until he catches the eye of somebody who's willing to give him another chance.


One of the more emotional episodes earlier this season involved Quentin's death.  What was your reaction when you found out he was going to die?

I was pretty shocked.  I think we were all shocked.  Quentin was a really well-written character, and he had a good place in the hearts of all the other characters.  He was just another one of those characters that was introduced and got to do a 180.  I think the audience was expecting to see that transition play out a little bit more, like it has with other characters in the past.  To have that taken away, it just -- especially reading the script, I wasn't expecting it at all.  None of us were.  It was a little bit of a shock.


What was it like filming the more emotional scenes with Jackson Brundage?

I'd say it's actually easier to play the emotion when you're dealing with a child that's hurting, or that doesn't understand why they're hurting or what the situation is.  It's a little bit more heartbreaking, and it's easier to let it touch you I think.  That's just coming from my perspective as an actor.  It's hard to say that you enjoy doing things like that, because they're not fun or anything, but it's definitely rewarding in a way.


Chad Michael Murray has written an episode for later in the season.  Have you read that script, and do you ever want to try anything behind the scenes?

I haven't read the script.  I don't know what the lifespan of the show's going to be after this season, so it never really occurred to me to try and write for the show or direct for the show.  I kind of enjoy my role on the show, and I like to stick to that, keep my life as stress-free as I can for right now.  But who knows, I'm young, and maybe later in life after I've got more experience I'll feel the need or want to tackle that role.  As for right now, I'm pretty happy with the way things are.


I talked to you last year and you mentioned that you didn't think Nathan would ever forgive Dan.  Is that going to change now that Dan saved Haley and Jamie's lives?

I don't think so.  I think the audience is going to continue to see that icy relationship between Dan and Nathan.  I think Nathan has been back and forth with Dan a few too many times to let him back in the way that he used to.  I'd probably stick to my claim that Nathan will never really forgive Dan.


Nathan and Haley had a lot of drama last year with the nanny storyline and Nathan's paralysis.  What's the focus for the couple this year?

I think the focus for Nathan and Haley will be less on the actual relationship between Nathan and Haley, and more on what they need to achieve as individuals.  I think Nathan and Haley have been through so much as a couple and had their relationship tested so many times, I think they've pretty much proven they can handle anything that's thrown at them.  I think the real test now is whether the both of them can make themselves happy, and achieve their dreams that they gave up pretty early in life to have a child.


Aside from One Tree Hill, you have a role in the sequel to Donnie Darko that's being filmed now.  Can you talk about that role and how that came about?

They were interested in me while we were on our hiatus between season 5 and season 6, and I read the script.  I heard that it was the sequel to Donnie Darko, and I wasn't too excited about that initially, but I read the script and it was incredibly interesting.  It wasn't obvious in the way I thought it was going to be, and it was very much like the original in that it really made you think, and there was really no one answer to the way things played out.  I know that sounds very vague and generalized, but I can't give anything away.  It really was intriguing to me, so I decided to do it, and the role was really great as well.  I'm anxious to see how it turned out.


How does that character differ from Nathan?

Completely.  It's completely different than anything that I've ever done.  I'd say that the only similarity is that both the guys look alike, because they're both me.  Other than that, I don't think there's any similarities.


Mark Schwahn recently signed on for another season of One Tree Hill.  Would you be willing to sign on to that?  Is that something you're interested in?

I think there's a lot of variables when you talk about something like that.  There's a lot of things to consider.  I would never say absolutely not, but at this point I don't know who else would want to come back, I don't know under what circumstances it would be.  We're just trying to focus on making season 6 the best it can possibly be in case it is our last.


- Interview conducted by Don Williams
(Image courtesy of the J-Lafferty.com)

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