Shantel VanSanten, One Tree Hill

After Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton left One Tree Hill (Mon, 8/7c on CW) last season, the show ushered in a new pair of hotties — Robert Buckley and Shantel VanSanten.  VanSanten plays Quinn, a photographer who ran to Tree Hill as an escape from her declining marriage. Now officially divorced and snuggled up with Clay (Buckley), Quinn got a rude awakening when her ex-husband David and her sister Taylor showed up last week ... as a couple. TVGuide.com spoke to VanSanten about joining the series, what's ahead for her and her sisters, and about being a part of Brittany Murphy's final film.

TVGuide.com: What was it like joining an established show?
Shantel VanSanten: I came in so nervous because I had actually never watched an episode so I was really overwhelmed. In Episode 1, we shot a big cake fight scene, and... I was like, "This is going to be great." I love working with Joy [Galeotti], she's incredible and really understanding if I don't know a certain storyline, or if I don't know what happened in her life previously.

TVGuide.com: Are David and Taylor really together?
VanSanten: They're together. We have a huge dinner that they cook for us in [Monday's] episode, and there's a lot of underlying issues that come out between Haley and Taylor, and myself and Taylor. It comes to a head and ends in a pool. Quinn knows she's made mistakes in her past, and I know a lot of people resent [her] for the way that she's handled the whole thing. It's hard because we picked up at the very end when she was separated from [David], when they completely fell out of love with each other. She didn't just jump into bed with Clay; they really leaned on each other when they were going through a hard time and ended up falling in love.

TVGuide.com: Do you think Quinn and Clay have a shot at lasting?
VanSanten: There are going to be a few road bumps coming up. We both know what's happened prior to each other... [and] having that bond and that friendship is something that is really important. It didn't start out like, "Hey we hooked up we should be in a relationship." It was like, "Hey we're friends and it grew into something." So I'm hoping it does [last}. He's my best friend forever, and it's awesome working with him.

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TVGuide.com: So what else is ahead for the James sisters?
VanSanten: We're reuniting some parts of the family — our mom and some of our brothers and sisters — we didn't necessarily know we had before. We have a really big family. My mom [played by Bess Armstrong] comes in town for a big visit, and Taylor obviously comes back. So there's a lot of family stuff going on. I came in and added one layer to seeing a different side to who Haley is, and the way we interact as sisters. With Taylor coming in, that's a horse of a different color. Sometimes you have family that you have to love because they're family, but you don't always have to like the decisions that they make.

TVGuide.com: Which James sister are you most like in real life?
VanSanten: I'm a lot like Quinn. She has such a young spirit, but I think her soul at the very core [is] older. I completely relate to the fact that she's an artist — that unpredictable life, making yourself vulnerable.

TVGuide.com: What can you tell me about the '80s episode coming up?
VanSanten: The episode takes place in a big benefit dance that Haley and I are doing for our high school. We all got the script, and instantly I'm like, "I'm crimping my hair." It was a blast and ... in episodes like, that you get away from the drama a bit more and you can play something totally different. It was a lot of makeup and a lot of hair, though. After five days I was like, "OK I'm totally over this. There's no way I could've done a whole period of my life like this."

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TVGuide.com: What's been the most fun about being on One Tree Hill?
VanSanten: I love working with Jackson [Brundage]. Those are the days I live for because he has so much life and energy and never stops going. [Also] the days we shoot on the beach. The beach is like an hour away from the real town, and it's usually me and Bux [Buckley] out there. It's absolutely gorgeous.

TVGuide.com: Tell me about Something Wicked, the movie you shot with Brittany Murphy before her death.
VanSanten: Brit passing which was pretty devastating for everybody. She was there for a few weeks shooting — she plays my sister-in-law. She had the most infectious personality and it was really great to work with her. I was completely shocked when I found out that she passed away. I don't know what will happen to the movie, [but]  I hope for her sake it comes out because I feel like as actresses, parts of our soul are always left on screen. Any piece that people can see of her and her life and her soul would be amazing.