James Lafferty Says He Almost Walked Away From Acting Before Booking ‘One Tree Hill’

Before starring on One Tree Hill for nine seasons, star James Lafferty says he was close to walking away from acting.

In an interview with People published Friday, the actor reflected on spending his childhood in the “acting game” that eventually led to the OTH opportunity. “I started when I was really young and I was auditioning by the time I was 10 and working my way up through smaller roles to get the opportunity to do something like this,” Lafferty said.

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While visiting the Warner Bros. offices, Lafferty recalled seeing photos of the cast of Dawson’s Creek thinking, “Oh man, it’d be so cool to be up there someday.”

“When I got the audition for One Tree Hill — when I got the script it was originally called Ravens — and the role was a basketball player and he had an edge to him,” he recalls. “And it was just an opportunity to do all these things that I would’ve just absolutely loved to do at that time in my life.”

Lafferty was 17 at the time of audition and said if he didn’t secure a role on the show he was going to attend college instead.

“It was my last shot at it,” he said. “I was just going to go to college if I didn’t get this role, and I was going to go to Long Beach State and just do that for a while, and it ended up being the one that actually caught. It felt like fate.”

Lafferty went on to play basketball star Nathan Scott on the drama from 2003 to 2012.

Despite the Nathan role seeming like a “villain” in the first script, Lafferty said he felt “completely comfortable with that because he was so well-written as a villain.” But he also noted that it was easy to “recognize that he was the way that he was for a reason because of the way that his father is.” The role of Nathan’s father, Dan Scott, was portrayed by Paul Johansson.

Portraying the basketball star was an “opportunity to play a really complex character that was going through a lot, and it was manifesting itself in negative ways,” he said, also adding that the writers assured his character wasn’t always going to be a villain and would eventually “make a turn.”

“And I was like, ‘I’m fine, either way. This is fun.'” His character, along with Bethany Joy Lenz’s character Haley James, went on to became a notable and fan favorite TV couple.

One Tree Hill also starred Chad Michael Murray, Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush Joy Lenz, Moira Kelly, Craig Sheffer and Barbara Alyn Woods.

Lafferty recently co-wrote and starred in Everyone is Doing Great, available to purchase on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video.

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