Despite shaky reviews, ABC's October Road (Thursdays at 10 pm/ET) stepped into a prime-time spot behind Grey's Anatomy and held its own in its first few weeks. But will viewers get attached enough to invite Bryan Greenberg's Nick Garrett and his small-town friends back for more? TVGuide.com spoke to Jonathan Murphy — aka Nick's kid brother, Ronnie — about why he was drawn to the series and how it will survive among peers that are exploding with high ratings. Murphy also gives us the scoop on the coming season of ABC Family's Wildfire.
TVGuide.com: So, a pretty good viewer response to October Road, huh?
Jonathan Murphy: Yes, we've been doing very well.
TVGuide.com: How do you feel about working on a show that's not about blowing things up, saving lives or superpowers?
Murphy: I like it. There were certain kinds of movies that I used to watch that made me want to get into [acting] and they were never those big, huge blockbusters; they were always character dramas driven by simple premises and normal people living normal lives. A kid from Texas can't relate to nine cars exploding on the highway, but people can understand a guy who fights with his brother and doesn't like his dad. So for me, I enjoy the aspect that it's not one of the procedurals or medical dramas or a themed show like Lost. I gravitate toward the family drama and stories of real people.
TVGuide.com: You and Bryan are convincing as brothers; you look related.
Murphy: Good, that was the whole point!
TVGuide.com: Do you still have a group of friends from high school?
Murphy: I have a few friends that I talk to. None of them are really out here, they're pretty scattered. Things like MySpace have been wondrous for talking to people that I haven't seen in years and years, so that's how I communicate with some of those guys.
TVGuide.com: Has October Road filmed any more than the first six episodes?
Murphy: There's always wishful thinking among everyone. It's, "Oh, when we get [picked up for] Season 2," yadda, yadda, yadda. We talk about it and it's hoped that it will actually happen.
TVGuide.com: If you guys come back, I hope we get to see more of Ronnie integrated with Nick and his friends.
Murphy: That, from what I've been told, is the plan. I think they really want to expand it. They're looking at why Grey's Anatomy is successful, how it is the stories of all those people, not just their lead guys. I think that's the direction they want to take it in.
TVGuide.com: How's the cast chemistry?
Murphy: It's great, because everyone gets along so well and that's due in part to [shooting] all the episodes in Atlanta. I hate to use the word "forced," but it forces everyone to be together, because if we were shooting in L.A., you'd go to work and go home, you don't have to hang out with everyone. But we were all in Atlanta, in the same hotel, and we all hung out and had drinks and dinner together and it was a big family, which I think only helps the attitude on the show. Having a cast that gets along in a family aspect carries over on screen, making the relationships go a lot deeper than what's on film. But sitting there talking to Tom Berenger and Penny Johnson [Jerald] and Bryan in a scene... you can't ask for more than that.
TVGuide.com: Hopefully viewers will latch on. In tonight's episode, there are some twists....
Murphy: It gets interesting. There are some relationships that start to blossom and people who have watched the first [few] and think they know what's going to happen, or think it's predictable, could be thrown for a loop after they see the next [episode].
TVGuide.com: Also, you're going to be on Wildfire when it returns this fall....
Murphy: Yes, we're shooting that now. It will air sometime in September. As many of the Wildfire fans know, Junior Davis (Ryan Sypek) has had some business endeavors that haven't worked out for him very well and [next season] he's at his country club and he runs into this valet, Calvin, who he was not the nicest to in high school. Junior comes to apologize and discovers that Calvin has created this wind turbine that will reduce the world's energy use and reduce the dependency on foreign oil and slow down global warming. He sees something in Calvin, a dedication, so he decides to get behind it and back him, and those two go into business together. I play Calvin, the inventor of this machine.
TVGuide.com: But he's a valet?
Murphy: He's been trying to raise all this money to get the materials to build this prototype by working at a dead-end job [even though] he's the smartest guy, going to MIT. He lucks out that Junior wronged him in high school and now has the capability and lots of money to get behind the invention.
TVGuide.com: That's interesting, because the way they ended Season 3 had us thinking that Junior was going to take over the ranch business.
Murphy: Yeah, they have twists and turns in there. Junior might have a new love interest, too, and there's big stuff going on.... I think it's going to be a good season. I am doing six [episodes] with a possibility of seven, so about half of the season. I just got another film, so we're going to have to work around the dates.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about your film Ready or Not.
Murphy: It's about four friends who made a vow to each other years ago that if any of them decide to get married, they'll have to prove to one another that they're really ready for the commitment. Chris, played by Christian Oliver, decides he's ready to get married and the bachelor party is planned and we're parachuted into Mexico. But instead of Cabo, we land in god-knows-where Mexico and have to fight our way back, dealing with drug lords and large strippers and donkeys and everything else that you can imagine in Mexico.
TVGuide.com: A little adventure there.
Murphy: It's a bit of an adventure and there's some comedy thrown in. I play the youngest of all of them, the friend who's the most practical and who believes in love, and that's not always the most popular choice in this group of guys. I don't know the official [release] date, but I've been told late fall of this year.
TVGuide.com: That's exciting! You've got a lot going on.
Murphy: I'm trying, and I just got a new movie called Broken Windows, which is in the vein of Love Actually and 11:14 and Crash. It's about these four women and their stories and they're all interrelated, but they don't know [that they are]. I just met with the director and we're really excited. It's funny, because the girl who plays my sister in the movie, Jennifer Hall, was on Unscripted with Bryan Greenberg.
TVGuide.com: See, it all comes full circle.
Murphy: It's a very small world. And Michael Gross (Family Ties) plays my dad, so I get to add another Hollywood veteran to my list of guys playing my dad. It's funky. I've been very lucky this year, and hopefully it only gets better.
Preview tonight's October Road with this video.