'One Tree Hill': James Lafferty (and you) talk season 7 sans Chad & Hilarie

jameslafferty.jpgChad & Hilarie? Out. Rob Buckley and Shantel Van Santen? In.

"One Tree Hill" has gone through quite a big change this year, losing two of its key players, but replacing them with new talent right away.

There's still a few old school Tree Hill inhabitants hanging out though...

Last week's episode ended with a bit of a surprise: Dan is somehow involved in Nathan's sex scandal accusations. Thoughts on that?
James Lafferty:
I think it's been proven in the past that Dan is very meddlesome. And whether it's for malicious reasons or for heroic reasons, he always has his hands in something. He has his pulse on what's happening in Nathan's life. If it's positive or negative, I can't really give that away, but the audience should definitely look forward to Dan being a factor [in that storyline].

Do you think Dan's motives might be more pure in this case? Could he actually be trying to help his son?
JL:
It's always possible. In the past, Dan has saved Nathan and he's absolutely been there for Nathan, whether or not Nathan wanted him to be. But Nathan has still shut Dan out. Even now, he doesn't consider Dan to be a part of his family and there's really nothing Dan can do to get back in. I think the audience has to consider that this could make Dan even more bitter than he once was.

And of course this is all going down because Nathan has a higher profile now, having finally realized his dream of playing in the NBA. After all these years portraying Nathan, how do you feel about this new stage of his life?
JL:
It's really great. One of my favorite things about coming back for the seventh season is seeing what Nathan's life is like and what the Scott family's life is like after Nathan has been in the NBA. And that's why I love the storyline that we're doing now, with Renee accusing Nathan [of having an affair], because it actually threatens everything that Nathan has worked so hard for. And in the past, when Nathan is threatened by something, or when something is taken away from Nathan, he works really hard to get it back. And so what I see is an opportunity for Nathan to rise from the ashes out of a situation like this.

Haley has been standing by her man during the whole scandal. Do you like there to be a little drama and turmoil in their relationship?
JL:
I like it. Because I think Nathan has to grow from this, and I think the family has to grow from this as well. Nathan and Haley have to learn how to deal with this as parents, but also as husband and wife. I think for them to even be able to talk to each other about it, it shows how much kindness and trust there is in the relationship.

Of course, one person who is missing in all this drama is Nathan's brother. Is it weird not having Chad Michael Murray (Lucas) and Hilarie Burton (Peyton) around this year? Or are things just business as usual?
JL:
I'd say it's not weird, and it's not business as usual. Everybody's had a really positive attitude. And I think a big part of that is not looking back at what we've lost, but looking forward. It's completely futile to think about what we lost and why the show could possibly be weaker than it once was. All we've really been focused on is doing the best job we could possibly do, really bringing it, really being prepared and looking forward to making the best show we can possibly make now. I think it's really paid off because the viewership is still strong. I think the fans are really starting to commit to the new characters. And Rob [Buckley, Clay] and Shantel [VanSanten, Quinn] are making it really easy on the rest of us by being so dedicated to their characters and being so willing and also capable of making the characters real and allowing the audience to care about them.

Their characters also inject new life into the show, which must be nice after all these years.
JL:
Yeah. And there's a freshness to both Rob and Shantel that I think the fans are really going to love. They have a great energy, they're great actors and I think it does change the face of the show in a positive way.

Clay and Quinn have been inching towards romance, but Nathan is dead set against it. Just how much trouble is the Clay/Quinn relationship going to cause Nathan's friendship with Clay?
JL:
I think Nathan's main concern is that Clay's interests are going to turn away from Nathan's career. I think Nathan's really frightened right now by everything that could possibly be negative in his life. And what he needs is for his representative, Clay, to be there for him 100% and to do the best possible work he could be doing for Nathan's career. And I think Nathan sees not only Clay and Quinn as a threat to that, because he sees his agent being distracted, but also there is the factor that Quinn is Nathan's in-law and that means that Quinn's husband is also Nathan's friend. So that puts Nathan and Haley in a really difficult position.


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