BuddyTV interviews Austin Nichols, who plays Julian Baker on One Tree Hill.
Lucas’ small-town life will be shaken up in a big way on this Monday’s episode of One Tree Hill. The new installment, fittingly titled “Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe,” finds an interesting character named Julian Baker coming to town. Julian is a hotshot movie producer looking to turn An Unkindness of Ravens into a major motion picture, but the fact that he has a past connection with Peyton may lead to trouble. Actor Austin Nichols (John from Cincinnati, Friday Night Lights) plays the snarky Hollywood bigwig, and he’s currently contracted to appear in 10 episodes this season.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Austin to discuss his role on the show, as well as his thoughts on the upcoming noir episode written by Chad Michael Murray.
This is Don from BuddyTV and today I’m talking to Austin Nichols, who plays Julian on One Tree Hill. I was wondering if you could talk about how the role on One Tree Hill came about?
Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, Mark Schwahn kind of called and said they were interested, but they didn’t know if I would be interested. I went in and had the meeting with him and I fell in love with the guy, the guy is really, really smart and he’s a great writer. We started talking about this guy named Julian Baker, who is a movie producer and comes to town to buy Lucas’ book and make it into a movie. Anyway, I really liked the way he described the character. He’s kind of like Jack Nicholson, he’s this funny, snarky kind of guy you love to hate. So I said heck yeah man, that sounds fun.
Is he going to cause some trouble for Lucas and Peyton on the show?
Yeah, I think he’s going to cause trouble for a lot of people. [laughs] But definitely those two, and he may cause some trouble for Brooke and who knows who else.
What was it like going on set? The people on that show have been together for six seasons. Was that weird, or was it pretty natural?
I’ve never been in this situation before and it is a little weird. Like you said, they’ve been here six years, they’re in the sixth season. Everybody is very close, they know each other very well, they’ve been through a lot. Yeah, it is weird, you kind of feel like an outsider. But everybody has been really nice and I’ve become friends with everybody. They made it pretty easy on me.
What has it been like working with the One Tree Hill cast members so far?
It’s been great. Everyone’s been really nice to me and this town is really fun. Wilmington, North Carolina is really, really fun. I’m living at the beach and it’s been great. I bump into people from the show out at restaurants and bars and stuffs. Yeah, I don’t have any complaints. I don’t miss L.A. at all.
Are you filming the noir episode right now that Chad Michael Murray wrote?
Yeah, we just finished that episode.
What was that experience like?
Oh, it was really fun. I think that’s going to be quite a treat for the viewer, kind of like dessert for the audience. Obviously, everybody who watches the show is very used to it — it’ll be the same characters and similar storyline, but in a completely different period with different hair and clothes and cars, and different manners of speech. I think the audience is going to really dig it.
What kind of role is Julian going to play in that universe?
When we get to that episode, I’ve really just arrived and Lucas is pretty unsure about me and angry with me. In this dream sequence of his, this dream episode of his, I am a henchman. [laughs]
Having worked with producers and directors over the years, has that helped you get into character?
Yeah, for sure. If I didn’t work in the field I worked in, I would have no idea what a producer is or what a producer does. I remember when I first started acting I literally asked this question a hundred times: “What is a producer? What do they do?” I had no idea. And now I definitely have an intimate understanding of what a producer does. It’s still a strange profession, but it definitely lent lots of ideas to playing Julian.
Does your character want to turn his book into an indie movie, or is it a big a Hollywood movie?
No, it’s a studio movie. I’ve got a studio interested and I buy the book and I go and get the studio attached. I tell the studio executives about this writer and how great this book is, and they sign off on the deal. It’s going to be a studio movie.
I was a big fan of your role on Friday Night Lights last season.
I know that set is more improvisational and different to work on. What was that experience like compared to One Tree Hill or John from Cincinnati?
Yeah, on One Tree Hill we definitely stick to the words on the page. Definitely have more people coming up to you saying, “Yeah, but the line is written like this.” [laughs] And I’ve always, in every job I’ve ever done, kind of tailored it to something more comfortable to me. I’ve always had a lot of leeway and freedom, I’ve been really lucky. This is the first time where I’ve had a lot of people coming up to me telling me to stick to the book. That’s been weird, but I’m fine with it, I totally get it.
I was reading online that you have a degree in creative writing, is that right?
That’s right. My major was English and my emphasis was student learning.
Do you want to move into writing in the future, is that something you want to do?
I write, I’m always sort of writing. I wish that I actually wrote more but I spend so much time — I make a living as an actor, obviously, so I don’t write every day. I’ve always wanted to write every day and spend more time writing, but I find it hard because I spend so much time reading scripts and developing characters. I’m actually writing a movie right now, but I don’t have any sort of plans. I really enjoy writing, I love writing, I think it develops me as an actor as well and somehow makes me more well-rounded in filmmaking and stuff like that. I just really love to write, and someday I hope to make something that I write.
Do you have any other projects aside from One Tree Hill coming up that you’d like to talk about?
Oh yeah, there’s this movie The Informers, which is fantastic. You can watch a trailer online at YouTube or whatever. It’s an incredible movie from a Bret Easton Ellis novel. It has Kim Basinger and Billy Bob Thornton and Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke. The cast is just endlessly — there’s like ten more people who are fantastic actors and big names. I think the movie is going to come out in February.
Is that movie going to be as twisted as other Ellis adaptations like American Psycho or The Rules of Attraction?
Yeah, definitely. [laughs] It’s very twisted, it’s very, very dark.
– Interview conducted by Don Williams
(Image courtesy of the CW)