Paul Johannson

One Tree Hill's Dan Scott may be on his deathbed during Wednesday's episode, but he's not down for the count just yet.

"When the great nuclear fallout happens and virtually life is destroyed, Dan will be the cockroach that survives within the ashes," Paul Johansson tells TVGuide.com.

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Throughout nine seasons of the CW series, Dan has been the show's villain — he abandoned his son Lucas, was punishingly tough on his other son Nathan, and even murdered his brother Keith. In One Tree Hill's final season, Dan has returned a different man, one that viewers have started to take pity on and even empathize with. Dan took a bullet to save Nathan from a group of dangerous men who took him hostage in last week's episode. But even then, can Dan ever really be redeemed given his horrible history?

"He is redeemed, but not forgiven [and] I don't think Dan could ever forgive himself for what he did to Keith," Johannson says. "The redemption is important for the full circle and the nine years on the show, but he's still alone and has built this world for himself to live in with regret. He's tortured and he'll never be able to escape that so I think he's terminally broken because of the decision he made 7 years ago."

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Although the actor admits kids have literally run in the other direction upon seeing him in real life, he's loved nothing more than playing the bad guy. "When [creator Mark Schwahn] was casting for this he said, 'You don't mind being the bad guy?' I said, 'Mind? I'm thrilled about it!' He said, 'Trust me, this is the role.' Somebody with that gravitas or that weight, where even the littlest things seem powerful, being able to play that gave me a terrific amount of satisfaction."

With only three episodes remaining, Johansson, like the rest of the cast, says fans will truly love the series ender. "This final season [has been] more mature and evolved and it leads to what I think is the absolute ideal ending for all the fans of the show," he says. "I was thrilled when I read the final script."

Watch a clip from Wednesday's episode:

One Tree Hill airs on Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.