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James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti: How Our ‘One Tree Hill’ Friendship Led to ‘Everyone Is Doing Great’ (Exclusive)

Stephen Coletti and James Lafferty
Stephen Coletti and James LaffertyEveryone Is Doing Great

They didn’t appear in many scenes together on One Tree Hill, The CW’s hit drama that ran from 2003 to 2012. However, Stephen Colletti and James Lafferty’s bond occurred off-screen over a bottle of Jameson. In fact, the Laguna Beach alum stayed briefly at Lafferty’s home in Los Angeles when the One Tree Hill lead would have to return to Wilmington for filming. “I didn’t burn his house down, so from there it became a friendship,” Colletti, 32, tells Us Weekly.

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Their friendship has also turned into a melting pot of ideas. For years, they would speak to different friends in the industry – some actors who were constantly working, others who were struggling to find the next big project. Eventually, Lafferty, 32, realized that the anecdotes they were hearing could be quite an entertaining show. So they joined forces to create Everyone Is Doing Great.

“We came up with the idea around five years after One Tree Hill had ended, so we found ourselves in this road where, really, what’s coming next? It’s fun but there are tricks your mind plays on you, and we found a lot of comfort in being able to laugh at that situation,” Lafferty says. “We were like, ‘What kind of characters can we create? How can we use humor to help them work through this situation?’ There was a moment we’re, like, we’re experiencing these circumstances where we can find humor in. Let’s just try this out.”

Stephen and James on One Tree Hill
Stephen and James on One Tree Hill The CW

That trial is now a pilot. Everyone Is Doing Great is the story of two actors, Seth (Colletti) and Jeremy (Lafferty), struggling to reclaim the success and relevance that they received five years prior in a hit vampire drama series titled Eternal. In the dark comedy, the best friends are both working to figure out their careers, as well as explore life and love.

In real life, both Colletti and Lafferty gained fame on hit TV shows – so do they directly relate to the character they play?

“Jeremy represents that scared little boy in me that’s always second guessing themselves. I think everyone has that inside themselves, who is a little insecure and is looking for answers. That’s how I can connect with him,” Lafferty tells Us. “This guy is the worst, least self-confident version of anyone you can play. It’s almost like therapy in a way, to give a voice to that person that’s second-guessing themselves constantly. You deal with rejection constantly as an actor. Jeremy is one side of that.”

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While their characters struggle to get out of the pigeon hole their roles placed them in, the actors are grateful they haven’t experienced that.

“I was most convinced that what I had done was following me around. There was massive insecurity for me, coming out of a reality show trying to go to scripted and hoping to be taken seriously, hoping people wouldn’t just think I was trying extend my 15 minutes of fame,” Colletti says. “I would walk around apologizing. In a way, that did hurt me. It puts you outside of your comfort zone. I have never felt that because of Laguna Beach or even who I played on One Tree Hill, that it held me back. I’ve never been faced with that, I’m the one who put that burden on myself. I don’t think people only see me in that way.”

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Lafferty felt the same, noting that in his mind, One Tree Hill wasn’t as big as some of the other mainstream shows. That’s part of the reason why he chose to go with a vampire series for Everyone Is Doing Great.

Season 2 was always my favorite….#tbt

A post shared by @ everyoneisdoinggreat on

“Eternal was a lot more well known in the zeitgeist than One Tree Hill. It was like The Vampire Dairies or The O.C. or Twilight or Gossip Girl – these things that really took over the conversation in culture and media,” he says of the show the characters starred in versus the show the actors starred in. “In reality, One Tree Hill was an amazing springboard for so many other things and an incredible experience and really connected to an audience, but it always flew under the radar. It never really reached that height and fame, so we were able to enjoy a certain point of anonymity and come away with it without defining our identities.”

However, One Tree Hill still has quite the fanbase, and the cast is still pretty close. Lee Norris (Mouth), Robert Buckley (Clay) and Bethany Joy Lenz, who played Lafferty’s on-screen wife Haley, have all seen the new show – and really enjoyed it. Part of its appeal? How natural the story flows, which is in part, due to the writing. Instead of full scripts, Lafferty wrote an outline of situations, leaving “all the dialogue at the door.” And it worked.

The pilot is currently being pitched around at multiple television festivals this summer including ATX TV Festival, MonteCarlo TV Festival and New York TV Festival. If it does get picked up, the stars are ready. They’ve already written the entire first season.

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