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From One Tree Hill to American Drifter

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From One Tree Hill to American Drifter

Chad Michael Murray discusses his career as part of SAMU’s Speaker Series

Chad Michael Murray was in the Heart of the Robbins on Friday, March 23, as a part of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University’s (SAMU) Speaker Series. The actor, best known for his role as Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill, sat down for a Q+A, moderated by Shannon Burns of 104.9 Virgin Radio.

Murray spoke candidly about everything from kissing Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday to his opinions on the love triangle in One Tree Hill. For the record, he says, he always knew that Lucas and Peyton would end up together.

He took a few minutes to chat with the griff about his transition into writing, and the release of his first novel last fall. American Drifter, which Murray co-wrote with Heather Graham, is a story that he feels will appeal to fans of his acting.

“I really wanted to give my fan base, the group watching Tree Hill and all these different films that I have done, a story from me that catered to them specifically,” Murray says. “It’s just this very adventurous thing that I think all of us inside, really, we want. Sometimes we’re afraid of it, or sometimes we just can’t have it or attain it at the time because it’s too far out of our grasp.”

The novel is far from Murray’s first venture into writing. He penned an episode of One Tree Hill, has finished a screenplay, and put out a graphic novel called Everlast in 2011. In the latter, he worked closely with several artists and illustrators, though he adds that the experience was completely different from his work on the novel.

“With the graphic novel, it was artists, so it’s a very different process,” says Murray. “Co-writing in a book, with Heather, that’s back and forth. So you’re talking about writing words and telling a story, and having to make sure that it comes across as one voice instead of two.”

The different mediums each present their own challenges, but Murray believes that there is one major similarity: “At its bare bones, bare minimum, storytelling is storytelling.”



Murray further expanded his resume by recording the audio book for American Drifter. “I did that genuinely just for the fans. It was very much a long Lucas coda from Tree Hill,” he says.

“[Recording] is a lot of work. It really is. You’re talking 350 pages. Every time you screw up, every time you swallow too loudly, or you mumble over a word, or you have improper pronunciation, or you take too long of a beat, you have to go back and reread it,” he adds. “It was hours and hours and hours, and multiple days of sitting in a studio. And if your stomach growls, guess what? You gotta cut and do it again. It’s crazy. It’s a lot.”

The experience didn’t scare him away from voice acting, though. Murray is interested in playing animated characters in the future, particularly those that his children might be able to watch while they’re still young.

In the meantime, he still has a number of big-screen projects in the works. The Beach House and Camp Cold Brook, a romance and horror, respectively, are both due out later this year. He adds that, while TV shows like One Tree Hill are familiar and fun, he enjoys film work and exploring new characters as often as he can.

“You step into a new character’s shoes for the first time and you really have, like, one crack to make him as memorable and as fully functioning of a human as you possibly can. And I think there’s something very gratifying when you know, no matter what the film is, I did everything I could at work.”

Murray is also set to direct a film adaptation of his own original screenplay this summer, in addition to expanding his writing portfolio.

“We’re writing a sequel for American Drifter, and I’m writing another screenplay,” says Murray. “It’s a story that I’ve been wanting to tell for years.”

Somehow, he is still able to find the time for public events, like SAMU’s Speaker Series. He hopes that his body of work will influence people to pursue their own dreams and aspirations. “That’s what this is for me — opportunities to inspire young people to be great, because they have all the potential in the world.”


Photography supplied by SAMU.