Nathan Scott has always been a bit of a risk-taker, but how far would he go to make his basketball dreams a reality? One Tree Hill's James Lafferty checked in with TVGuide.com to tell us about the character's upcoming episode involving Slamball, an extreme sport that combines basketball, hockey and a bit of football. Plus: Will his villainous father Dan ever go away?
TVGuide.com: I saw the preview for next week and Slamball looks pretty intense. Tell me about it and how your character gets involved?
James Lafferty: Nathan is feeling held back and trying to play professional basketball again but people are a little reluctant to give him a second chance because of injuries that he sustained. They don't know if he's ready to take on the physicality of basketball and so this opportunity is presented to play Slamball, which is sort of a hybrid sport of football, hockey and basketball, and he takes the opportunity to showcase his athletic ability and to prove to people that he's back on the top of his game.
TVGuide.com: Is it Owen who introduces it to him?
Lafferty: Actually he gets a phone call from a coach and [then] he finds out that Owen is playing.
TVGuide.com: So does that mean he's not going to take the coaching gig?
Lafferty: Well, I don't think I can give that away.
TVGuide.com: I hear you've been really getting into Slamball outside of One Tree Hill.
Lafferty: It was here for about a month and a half and the character was supposed to be really good at the game. I didn't want to be using a double, I wanted it to look convincing. The audience is pretty good at sniffing out imposters so I actually learned how to play. It took about a month and we shot it over the course of another half a month. We were done with it pretty quick. I think everyone was sad to see the court go, especially myself, but I definitely took to it.
TVGuide.com: Is it going to be hard on Haley and Jamie, will it strain their relationship at all?
Lafferty: I think it's gonna provide a little bit of drama because it's a very physical sport. The last thing Haley and Jamie want to see is Nathan get hurt again, and the last thing Nathan wants to do is put his family in that position again. That definitely comes into play.
TVGuide.com: Nathan and Haley have gone through tons of ups and downs. What kind of place are they in now and how do you think they've grown since the beginning of their relationship?
Lafferty: Well, Nathan and Haley have been married for five years now, they have a child, so they're definitely a strong unit. They've been through ups and downs, as you said, they definitely learned a lot about each other. I think the relationship is really evolving into a rock-solid kind of thing. They're portrayed as couple that can withstand really intense trauma, pretty much anything.
TVGuide.com: The last few weeks we've seen Carrie torturing Dan and for the first time viewers have actually developed a soft spot for him. How do you see his and Nathan's relationship going forward?
Lafferty: It's been a pretty icy climate between Dan and Nathan and fans can probably expect that to continue. Nathan's character is classically pretty stubborn and even though he has gone back and forth with Dan for most of his life, what Dan did [over the course of the show] is pretty much unforgivable for every character. No one is ever going to forgive him for that and at the same time he is a hard person to get rid of, as the audience has seen over the years. Nathan, as well as the other characters, will probably have to just deal with him being around the best they can.
TVGuide.com: Do you enjoy shooting the more lighthearted scenes, or are the dramatic ones more fun?
Lafferty: I can't remember the last time Dan and Nathan had a lighthearted scene but I do love shooting with Paul [Johansson]. He's a lot of fun, he's a professional and he's an incredibly funny person. There's always something new and exciting that's going to happen whenever you work with Paul.
TVGuide.com: You're in your sixth season now. What have been some of the best moments for you?
Lafferty: There have been a lot of great moments. The four-year jump ahead was really rewarding for all of us. To be able to be part of something that had never been done before and then to execute it so well and see the audience really take to it, it was a success. It was sort of a gamble and it paid off, everybody worked really hard to make that happen. The new life that it gave the show has been a lot of fun for me and my character. [Also] being able to train like a Slamball player for a month and a half and have the courts here in Wilmington, it's something that I'd never be able to do otherwise so things like that really stood out for me.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any other side projects you're working on?
Lafferty: Myself and couple of friends here from Wilmington produced a documentary that's actually in the Wilmington film festival, so I'm gonna keep submitting that around, seeing what other festivals I can get it into. It's a sports documentary, something that we worked really hard on for a year.
TVGuide.com: So you have an interest in being behind the camera?
Lafferty: A little bit. I'm pretty young so I'm just dabbling in whatever I can get my hands in. I also did a movie in June, over the hiatus, called S. Darko [sequel to Donnie Darko]. I don't know exactly when that's going be coming out but I'm anxious to see how that turned out as well.