The relationship between Nathan and Haley certainly had its fair share of problems during the fifth season of One Tree Hill. Not only did the couple have to survive Nathan’s anger at being temporarily wheelchair-bound, but the whole nanny Carrie drama really drove a wedge between them. When I recently spoke with OTH creator Mark Schwahn about the future of the series, I made sure to ask him if the Scott family would continue to experience turmoil in season 6. You can read his full answer in the interview below, but it does sound like “Naley” will continue to have their ups and downs when the show returns.
In addition to getting scoop on the Scott family drama, I also talked to Mark about his plans for season 6, what’s coming up for Jamie, and what fans can expect from the episode Chad Michael Murray recently scripted. Read on for the mp3 and complete transcript of the interview.
Hi, this is Don with BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Mark Schwahn, creator of One Tree Hill. Season 5 of One Tree Hill definitely seemed to reinvent the show, so what are your plans for season 6?
I think we want to continue with the momentum that the jump ahead gave us. Obviously we have a few cliffhangers to address, whereas I chose closure in season 4 because we were closing up that time of the characters’ lives. The show in many ways has been refaced and reinvigorated. It’s very much a twentysomething show now with some relevant adult characters, and I really like that energy for the show. It allows us to be a little more complex in the storylines, and the actors welcomed the change and are thrilled with the material they’re getting, not only last season but this season as well. I think it sets us apart from shows that have been positioned as being similar, but there’s not a lot of people doing what we’re doing right now. I feel like with the success that we got from the jump ahead, just continuing that and continuing to build on that is sort of the blueprint for season 6.
One thing I definitely didn’t see coming last season was the relationship between Skills and Deb. What inspired you to do that?
First and foremost, I think Antwon and Barbara are an asset to the show. Great actors that are oftentimes used as counsel to the other actors. It always frustrated me a little bit that they didn’t have their own relationships and their own journeys. Obviously we didn’t see much of Deb in season 5, and right around the writers’ strike I told Barbara that there were plans to see Deb in [episode] 101. When the writers’ strike rolled around I told her to just be patient, and that that character was coming back in a really great way. I was just inspired to put them together because people, on face value, would find it so odd and unlikely, and they see the comedic shades of it. But this season we’re going to continue to play that relationship, and it’s great to hear people who are surprised at the likability of that couple, and that there’s a lot more going on than just using it for comedic effect.
Nathan and Haley definitely had a lot of problems last season. Are they going to continue to have troubles next year, or are you going to let them bond again?
Nathan and Haley’s fan base is so strong, and there’s a reason for that. That couple is gold as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve felt that way since the very beginning. People always ask me about when I’m just going to let them be happy, and it’s always an interesting question because I feel like they’ve always been the most stable couple on the show. They have a lot of obstacles come their way, but at least last season they overcame them together for the most part. The nanny Carrie stuff was obviously challenging to their relationship, but I see them growing — especially with the jump ahead and aging them a little bit — I see them growing into some really great places, not only as individuals, but as a family.
I think if they were safe and happy and nothing really happened, I think the fans would be bored by that. The difference is rather than antagonizing the fan base by driving obstacles between them, they’re facing obstacles together. That’s a big part of life, whether it’s the heightened version on our show or not. In your twenties, stuff happens, you know? A lot of it is unexpected, but I think the stability of that couple is really fun to watch, and one of the biggest and best parts of the show. We’ll continue down that path, and continue with the seeds that we planted, which is basically whether Nathan is going to pursue basketball and Haley is going to pursue music, or any other dream they might have. Are they able to pursue those things and still remain a family and a couple? Are those things going to be detrimental toward their relationship?
Speaking of that family, I thought that Jackson Brundage was fantastic last season.
I agree with you. He’s amazing.
Is there anything coming up for Jamie that we should know about, and will Chester make a return appearance?
You know, Chester is going to be put in peril in one episode.
I can’t say enough about adding Jackson Brundage to the cast. That search to find the right kid to play Nathan and Haley’s son was very exhaustive, and I took it very seriously, because I felt like the bar was set very high and fans were expecting us to rise to that challenge. Jackson is just above and beyond anything I had hoped for. I knew that he was going to be really special, but he’s not that sort of fake-y kid actor. He’s a real kid, he’s a rough and tumble kid, and he comes from a really solid family, and yet he’s got a gift where he’s very, very talented at what he’s doing.
I think what we have to do is hold back the want of writers and actors to have him in every scene of the show. Actors aren’t dumb, they all ask me for scenes with Jackson because they know the cute quotient and the likability quotient goes through the roof when he’s in those scenes, and all the writers want to write for him. But he’s a seven-year-old boy who can only work limited hours and gets tired, and also should have a fulfilling life outside of the show. He’s going to have his own storylines from time to time, and obviously he’ll be at the center of a lot of what’s going on with Nathan and Haley, Lucas, Brooke and others. I think adding him to the cast was like adding Butters to South Park. It’s rare when you add a new character who becomes instantly as important as the rest of the cast. I think that was true with Jackson, and it’s a testament to his God-given abilities. He’ll be at the center of a lot of stuff this year.
I’ve heard that Chad Michael Murray has written a black and white noir-themed episode for later in the season. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
I think that noir-themed is very risky, because I think that noir can be very dark and very guy-ish in its approach. I’d say this is more Casablanca infused. It’s set in the ’30s, I think Joe Davola is going to direct it, and we’ve been talking about doing it in black and white. I think we will. But yeah, Chad had this idea for the last couple years, and we’ve talked about when would be the right time to try to do it. It felt like in season 6 we’re in a good place right now creatively. I actually found a place where not only would it fit as a standalone episode, but it’ll also have a few handles to the serialized nature of the show and be able to advance story a little bit as well. He’s been working on the script and he did a great draft, and I’ve been working with him since he’s new to writing. The writing staff has embraced it, and I think the actors are excited to do it too. That’s something the fans will see during the first half of the season, toward the middle of the season.
– Interview conducted by Don Williams
(Image courtesy of the CW)