'One Tree Hill's' James Lafferty talks Season 9, Naley, and his 'mortifying' musical moment

oth-james-lafferty-1.jpgConfession: We still love "One Tree Hill."

Sure, after 8 years, it's not exactly cool to still find ourselves glued to our TV screens to watch Nathan, Haley, and Brooke navigate their mid-20s... but we're there anyway. We cried when Brooke got married. We got choked up with nostalgia when Nathan flashbacked to his first kiss. We felt a wild and weird array of emotions when Chad Michael Murray tweeted, "Return to oth? I don't know. Maybe next season for u guys. I Love that Lucas is missed."

And yes - we may have gotten a little bit crushed-out while we chatted with James Lafferty last week. (Shut up. When we were 16, "One Tree Hill" was the only thing that filled the "Dawson's Creek" shaped void in our lives.)

Lafferty's character, Nathan, is currently balancing his family life (and Baby #2) with a new career... and a shocking discovery. Just before learning that his wife was in labor, Nathan discovered the car that was involved in the hit-and-run accident that nearly killed his son and his wife's best friend... in his professor's garage. Professor Kellerman and the car crash will take center stage in upcoming episodes.

We discussed the car crash plot, Nathan and Haley's relationship, and the possibility of returning for Season 9 with Lafferty. Read on!

Zap2it: Watching the flashbacks in last week's clip show episode reminded us of how far Nathan's come from the punk kid he was in the first few episodes. Did you ever think he'd be as respectable as he is now?

Lafferty: There was definitely a time when Nathan was a villain on the show. I remember not really knowing what the future of the character was going to be, because it seems like on television shows in general, the villain doesn't usually stick around for that long. They're around for as long as it takes the hero to overcome him or defeat him. I was a little bit insecure about what my future on the show would be, but [series creator Mark] Schwahn sort of comforted me. I never could've imagined that it would come to this, that he would be so settled down, and sort of the one present character on the show that's been married for years and has these two children, and such a strong family unit. It's pretty cool to be able to see how far the character has come.

Aside from the obvious exhaustion of having a newborn in the house, how is baby Lydia's arrival going to impact life at home for Nathan, Haley, and Jamie?

There aren't going to be any shocking changes. They've raised a child before,and they're not 18 this time. I think their family is as strong as ever now. There's really never been a better time for Nathan and Haley to have a baby because they're in a really good place in their lives. Nathan's starting a really healthy new career and he'll be able to be around more often. They're pros. They've seen it all. They have Jamie as well, to help them -- and as we've seen this season, that kid has the wisdom of Yoda, so wherever Nathan and Haley could mess up, Jamie will be there to give his wise advice.

There hasn't been a lot of drama between Nathan and Haley this season. Are there going to be obstacles in their relationship before the season finale, or is it smooth sailing from here on out?


I think that as the family, they're pretty solid. They're each going to have their own obstacles to face, so as the show goes on, we're going to see more of Nathan and Haley facing their own individual obstacles. They'll help each other get through them, but as for things they have to go through in relation to each other, and with the family, they've got most of that figured out at this point.

No fake pregnant girls or psycho nannies or Chris Kellers?


Well, you never know. This is 'One Tree Hill.'

We didn't get to see much of Nathan's reaction to finding the car from the hit-and-run, because he was distracted by Haley going into labor. I imagine that his focus is about to shift in that direction now, though.


That's definitely the forefront of everybody's mind now that the baby has been delivered safely. I think that Nathan and Clay have some serious work to do. Not only are they trying to figure out what happened on that night, but they're figuring out what they're going to do about it, because the lines are blurred. Professor Kellerman is also the father of their business client. They've got a fine line to walk.

Is Nathan in over his head as he tries to expose Kellerman?


It's not often that we see Nathan do much detective work, so there's definitely a concern that they could be going about this the wrong way. I think they want to know what really happened. I don't think Nathan has a soft spot for Professor Kellerman, and Kellerman's always had it out for Nathan, so if in fact Professor Kellerman is in the wrong here, I don't think Nathan's going to want to let him off the hook.

I spoke with Mark Schwahn recently, and while we were talking about Bethany Joy Galleotti's upcoming musical performance on the show, he mentioned that Nathan will be singing, too. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not.

No, he wasn't joking. That's true. I don't think it's going to be quite the caliber of our usual performances, or really what anyone would expect when they hear the word sing, but yeah. I can say that Nathan does get a little performance of his own.

How'd you like shooting that?

How was that for me? It was mortifying. But fun at the same time. Hopefully the audience will enjoy it. But yeah, totally mortifying.

They somehow managed to find the one thing you haven't done in 8 years on the show.

Yeah, well. The audience will learn that there's a reason for that.

The CW hasn't picked up any shows for the 2011-2012 season. I know you aren't under contract, but if "One Tree Hill" does get renewed, would you be interested in returning for a Season 9?

There are a lot of things that would have to fall into place for a Season 9 to happen. If Season 9 doesn't happen, I feel like my character has had a very well-rounded ending. That being said, it's 'One Tree Hill.' There's always a possibility for more story.


Photo/Video credit: The CW