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James Lafferty plays Nathan Scott, the star basketball player who has recently abandoned his parents and hopes to start a new life as a newlywed in The WB's hit drama One Tree Hill. Lafferty's first series regular role was on the sitcom Emeril, where he played Emeril's son. He followed that up with a turn in the television movie A Season on the Brink, opposite Brian Dennehy. Lafferty played Steve Alford, the star player of the Indiana University basketball team, The Hoosiers. He has also made guest appearances on the series Once and Again, Boston Public and Get Real. Lafferty had the starring role in the independent feature Boys on the Run. Currently living in Wilmington while filming, Lafferty is an avid basketball fan and, similar to his character, a star player. He played on his Varsity team in high school and was awarded the MVP award. He also enjoys trips to the beach and playing football with his friends. Lafferty was born on July 25, 1985, in Hemet, California.
James Lafferty is a new hot star
What's better than spending your Tuesday nights with Chad Michael Murray? How about spending them with Chad Michael Murray and his equally hot One Tree Hill co-star James Lafferty? The 19-year-old may be new on the scene, but that doesn't stop him from giving Chad a run for his money — on and off the basketball court. We caught up with the WB's newest star.
How did you first start acting?
When I was about 7 years old, I started doing extra work and that was how I first learned about the business. Of course my mom was with me through the whole time, so we learned about the business [together] and from there [I] got into doing speaking roles and got an agent.
Whose idea was it for you to start acting so young?
My mom's friend. Her daughters were doing it. We thought it was pretty cool, so we wanted to give it a shot. She told us how to get involved. I always really made a point to try to be a kid and do things that I wanted to do as well. My mom was always really concerned with that; she wanted me to grow up like a normal kid and do the things normal kids do.
So what stuff have you done in the last 11 years since you started acting?
Commercials mainly. In the last two years things have started to pick up. I did a pilot for NBC, a TV movie called Season on the Brink, one episode of Boston Public, four episodes on Once and Again, and then, of course, One Tree Hill.
In Season on the Brink you played a basketball star, too — have you always been a good player?
Basketball's always been a part of my life, as much as acting. It was just last year when I graduated high school that I stopped playing as much. I'm fortunate to have this show 'cause I still get to play.
Did you kind of have to make a choice between having an acting career or a basketball career?
Not really. I didn't have much of a career ahead of me as far as basketball went. I might have been able to play it at a smaller college, but as far as where I would be making money, it was pretty clear that acting would be the way to go for me.
It's great that you can now combine the two! Did they know you could play basketball when they auditioned you for One Tree Hill?
No. I think they knew I was on Season of the Brink. But I don't think any of them had seen it, because I had to actually go and play basketball for part of the audition so they could see that I could play. I look like a basketball player, too — I've been playing all my life, so I think that's what eventually won them over.
You've worked on a pilot before. How did it feel to be part of one that actually got picked up?
Exciting — it's a whirlwind experience. We got thrown into it and started working right away, so we really haven't been able to enjoy it all that much. But the work is great and it's exciting actually seeing our finished product start to be on the air.
And have you had a good response from people so far?
Yeah. People love the show, which is a really good thing. We're going to start building a following little by little. People start to tune in and see that it's a quality story that they can really get into.
Have people recognized you on the street now?
I haven't been recognized, but we were hanging out with Hilarie [Burton] when she was recognized at a restaurant, and Chad gets recognized every once in a while. I'm sure it's going to get a lot worse for him pretty soon, since he's the front man for all this craziness.
How does it feel sharing the limelight? James Van Deer Beek and Josh Jackson [from Dawson's Creek] always had a rivalry between them. Do you think you guys will have that?
Probably not. Chad and I get along pretty well, so there's really no reason for a rivalry. I don't see anything like that happening.
Which story lines have you had the most fun doing on the show?
There's so many things that [my character] Nathan does. There are scenes with Haley [Bethany Joy Lenz] in the next episode when he tries to charm her that were fun. He's a lot of different people — the victim when it comes to his dad, the aggressor when it comes to Lucas, and then the charmer when he's with Haley and Peyton. So getting to be that many different people is fun.
What kind of roles would you like to do in the future?
I've always been interested in roles that mean something to me personally. As long as it touches me or inspires me and the story's really good, I'm into it. It doesn't matter how big the role is or how small the role is. If it is part of a great story, I'd love to do it.
Which actors do you find most inspiring?
I think an actor that's inspired me has been Tom Hanks. I've always loved to watch him work. It's pretty amazing, all the things that he does.
Have there been any parts that you've auditioned for that you really wanted to get that didn't work out?
There's been a lot actually. There's definitely been those movies that I've really, really wanted but didn't get. I always see the same people at auditions, too — people that are in my age range and look the same.
Where do you live now?
I live in Wilmington, NC, now that we're filming the show here. They also filmed Dawson's Creek here. There's a really nice beach and it's a college town — it revolves around the University of North Carolina, so there's a good hundred thousand people here I think.
Do you have a girlfriend?
Yes, and I think she's going to come and try to visit me pretty soon, but we obviously don't get to see each other as much as we'd like. She's 2,000 miles away in California.
James Lafferty has real love for basketball
Not too long ago, James Lafferty hoped to make it to the NBA. Now, as Nathan Scott, a high school star basketball player on WB’s “One Tree Hill,” he’s played his way into the hearts of millions of young fans.
Although his character is self-assured and arrogant, he deals with his share of problems. That’s one reason why the show has drawn a huge number of teen fans. Viewers as young as 12 say they watch the show because they can relate to his real-life challenges.
In the current story line, he recently left his parents’ home and hopes to start a new life as a high school newlywed. He once turned to amphetamines to meet his father/basketball coach’s expectations, having no idea what it would do to his body. The love of basketball is about the only thing he has in common with his less fortunate half-brother, Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray).
Aside from a love for hoops, it would seem that Lucas (Chad Michael Murray, "Dawson's Creek," "Gilmore Girls") and Nathan (James Lafferty, "Emeril") are two young men with little in common, but they are bound by the dark secret that they share the same father.
Arrogant and assured, Nathan is the star of the high school basketball team and hails from a wealthy family. Quiet and driven, Lucas is the only child of a single working mom. He is also a legendary playground basketball player. After growing up on opposite sides of the tracks in the same small town of Tree Hill, North Carolina, the two boys' lives suddenly collide when a twist of fate puts Lucas on Nathan's high school basketball team and the half-brothers compete, not only for control of the court, but also for the heart of Nathan's beautiful girlfriend Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton, "MTV's TRL").
Lucas' transition into Nathan's world creates an instant love triangle. Peyton is an intensely private and sensitive girl. She is a gifted artist, but for now, she keeps her art hidden from the world. Although she is Nathan's girlfriend, she quickly feels a connection to Lucas. Peyton lost her mother at a young age and, like Lucas, she knows the pain of growing up without a parent. She and Lucas both see the world from an outsider's point of view. Dan's actions have had a ripple effect on many people in the town. While Karen struggled to raise Lucas without a father, she remained friends with Dan's older brother Keith (Craig Sheffer, "A River Runs Through It").
Keith is Lucas' biological uncle and has served as his surrogate father over the years. His connection to Lucas is complicated by his attraction to Karen, and he is haunted by the possibility that he and Karen might have ended up together – and the hope that they still could. Karen's entire adult life has been focused on her son, but now that he's taking his first steps into a new world, she knows she can't protect him anymore.