One Tree Hill has never suffered from a lack of pretty faces, and with lead actors Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton gone, a new batch of hotties has been ushered in. Front and center is Robert Buckley, who is mostly known for his shirtless stint on Lipstick Jungle as Kim Raver's boy toy and as JoAnna Garcia's love interest on Privileged. TVGuide.com spoke to Buckley about what it's like playing sports agent Clay, how he and his buddies became completely absorbed in the series, and how he's dealing with the CW show's rabid fan base.
TVGuide.com: Were you familiar with the Tree Hill's storylines when you signed on?
Robert Buckley: I had seen a couple of episodes, but I wasn't a weekly follower. I went in to meet the writers and I asked, "Do you maybe have some DVDs I could watch?" Twenty minutes later, someone comes up with a One Tree Hill backpack filled with all six seasons. Suffice it to say myself and Shantel [VanSanten] had a real crash course. I actually got pulled into the show. It's so funny. [There] was a very big UFC fight on and I had 10 friends over and we're all watching the fight, drinking beers, being guys. My sister-in law comes back two hours later and the UFC had ended and I put on One Tree Hill. It went from this rowdy room of guys drinking, screaming at men punching each other, to absolute radio silence as everyone sat quietly completely absorbed. She was like, "Whoa, what happened?" and we're like, "Shh, Nathan and Haley are talking!" It was pretty funny.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about Clay.
Buckley: Season 7 starts off with us jumping a year ahead from where we left off in Season 6 [and], since then, Nathan has joined the NBA and has been successful. Clay is his agent and they have also become good friends. So you've got these good buddies, but they also have a business relationship. Clay is responsible for Nathan and his family's well-being at the end of the day, so it makes things complicated.
TVGuide.com: Do we learn more about Clay's past?
Buckley: Definitely. [Creator] Mark Schwahn told me ideas [and] it's a great way of explaining Clay's past in such a fashion that doesn't feel like exposition. It's really gripping, emotional stuff.
TVGuide.com: Is it safe to say you're going to be shirtless throughout a lot of the season?
Buckley: Not as much as I was in the first episode. I think we managed to squeeze a couple of shirtless scenes in there, but there's a respectable amount of shirtless-ness, not too much overkill.
TVGuide.com: What's it like filming in Wilmington, N.C.?
Buckley: There are aspects of being in that smaller city that I love, [but] the one downside is that since it's a small town, you can't get away with doing much without everyone finding out. There's a café across the street and I woke up and went straight down in my pajamas, bed-head and slippers. The woman behind the counter was like, "We took a picture on set Friday and I blog about the show." I was thinking, this is great. Now she's going to blog that I dressed like a hobo. But everyone's been really sweet.
TVGuide.com: Your last two series (Lipstick Jungle and Privileged) were both canceled. What's it like to join an established show with a huge fan base?
Buckley: I've never had the experience of having so many loyal fans so present and so visible. There's literally a group that will come to set and hang out everyday, take pictures, sign autographs, say hi. I didn't have any idea of how strong and vocal the fan base was, but they have one heck of a large following.
TVGuide.com: I was a fan of Lipstick. If you had come back for a third season, what would you have wanted for Nico and your character Kirby?
Buckley: I liked the direction they were starting to go in. There was nothing grandiose or false about the problems they had. He's a younger guy who's not established and doesn't make the money she makes [and] there are a lot of struggles with that. It would've been great to see them continue that journey [of] her wanting a baby and them not being in the right place. They both did a lot of growing up and adapting over the course of their relationship, [so] it would've been fun to watch as their relationship continued to get tested and what kind of compromises they would've made. I just had a heck of a time on that show [and] I was bummed to see it go.