Always and forever! James Lafferty looked back at his time on the beloved series One Tree Hill with Us Weekly — and revealed his favorite Nathan and Haley scene!
“I think the entire fifth season was my favorite because it was the first season that we saw them with [their son] Jamie,” the Underground actor tells Us. “It exciting for me was to see how that changed the dynamic between Nathan and Haley and to see them play parents — to see [something] besides them in love. That was a new challenge. That fifth season was a really special time.”
Lafferty, 30, played Nathan Scott on show, which ran for nine seasons from 2003 to 2012. Fans quickly fell for the bad boy basketball captain turned sweetheart when he got together with book-smart Haley James (Bethany Joy Lenz).
The Mark Schwahn–created drama also starred Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis), Hilarie Burton (Peyton Sawyer), Paul Johansson (Dan Scott) and Chad Michael Murray, who played Nathan’s brother Lucas Scott. The cast has reunited on several occasions since the series finale, and have also kept in touch with musician Gavin DeGraw. The singer’s song “I Don’t Want to Be” was the show’s theme song.
“That’s such a catchy song,” Lafferty says. “Not too long ago, I was in Odon, Indianapolis, and I went into a sports bar, and a couple of people recognized me from ‘One Tree Hill.’ I took a picture and then, probably, like, five minutes later somebody put on ‘I Don’t Want to Be’ by Gavin DeGraw,” he adds, laughing. “The manager came up to me and was like, ‘Sorry, man.’ I was like, ‘It’s fine — at least it’s a good song!'”
Lafferty has come a long way since filming OTH in Wilmington, North Carolina. He’s since directed an episode of Schwahn’s show The Royals and recently starred in the flick Waffle Street opposite Danny Glover. “I think the thing that blew me away the most was just his natural charisma. The guy can just light up a room without even trying,” Lafferty says of Glover.
The California native plays Jimmy Adams in the movie, a financier who switches gears and becomes a waiter at a local diner. Lafferty, who says that the dramatic comedy redefines what success can mean, was game to carry the film. After all, he had experience leading an ensemble on OTH. “If I am ever going to get the chance to prove that I can do this, it is right here, its right now, with this project,” he tells Us. “And I am pretty proud of the way that it turned out.”
Check out the rest of Lafferty’s Q&A in our Now and Then series:
US WEEKLY: What props did you take home from the OTH set?
JAMES LAFFERTY: There’s a scene [in season 5] when Nathan is being presented with his signature shoe, Nike shoes that have come out because he got drafted in the NBA. I just thought that was pretty cool, so I nabbed those, and I still have those till this day.
US: Did any story line stick with you most? It was powerful when Keith died in the school shooting episode.
JL: It was so sad to see Craig Sheffer go … I think we all sort of felt genuinely sad that Keith was gone because we loved that character so much, as well. I think it also woke fans up to how the show can be and how emotionally resonating the show can be. It broke a lot of hearts … but it gave us a lot of loyal followers.
US: Who from the cast have you remained close with?
JL: I remain close to Stephen [Colletti]. We hang out all the time, and we lived together while we were out there [in Wilmington] for a little bit. He’s an incredible guy. And I’m definitely grateful to the show for a lot of things, but staying in touch with Stephen is definitely one of them.
US: Where would you see Nathan today?
JL: I genuinely don’t know because in One Tree Hill, you never know. I mean, I could’ve never told you that I’d come back from — in season 4, going into season 5 — being in a wheelchair. So, who knows? Maybe he’d be a fighter pilot by now.
Waffle Street, based on a true story, is now on digital HD and on demand.