January 13, 2012 8:00am PT by Philiana Ng
'One Tree Hill' Stars Reflect on Nine-Season Run
Nine seasons. Nearly 200 episodes. That will be One Tree Hill's legacy in a nutshell when the CW officially closes the book on the long-running drama in a few months.
"It’s done. All the stages have been torn down," James Lafferty (Nathan) told The Hollywood Reporter at a Television Critics Assoc. party celebrating the show Thursday. "It’s the end of the road and we’ve crossed the finish line. You get more of a sense of accomplishment than you do sadness."
Production on the final season wrapped in October but it still hasn't sunk in yet for Lafferty and company, many of whom -- along with executive producers Mark Schwahn, who told THR season 9 will be "dark," and Joe Davola -- showed up to the evening's festivities. "I’m really grateful. It’s quite a journey," Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley) said to THR of nine seasons on the WB and the CW.
Lafferty, Galeotti and co-star Sophia Bush (Brooke), who directed the series' penultimate episode, took a moment to look back on their One Tree Hill experience and offered nuggets to the weeks ahead:
The Final Scene
Bush: "I was the last person who was filmed on the show, so the final scene for me was the final scene for One Tree Hill."
Galeotti: "The final scene I shot was a scene on the stage and it's on Julian's (Austin Nichols) soundstage. It was a very emotional day. We all took turns. We all walked through the door across the stage on-camera and hopefully, they'll use that last shot somewhere."
Lafferty: "We all had different last days. For me, my last day was just weird. It was strange. It's impossible for it to feel like the last day because we've been doing it for so long. I won't remember that being the last day til two months, a year down the road when I realize it's never coming back. My final scene was with Bethany Joy Galeotti. I can't give it away but that was my final scene."
Theme of the Final Season
Lafferty: "It is [very dark]. It's a totally different season and it's something we haven't seen before -- a tall statement for what One Tree Hill is. We've done some pretty outlandish things. We've taken the audience on several rollercoasters but I can guarantee you that the audience has never seen anything like this so far."
Bush, of Schwahn's hint that not everyone will be seen by season's end: "I can't say anything about it otherwise they're going to kill me!"
Galeotti: "A lot of characters return who you haven't seen in a while. That's a lot of what this season is about, bringing the nostalgia of the last nine seasons." (Former series regular Chad Michael Murray will be back for an appearance.)
What's in Store for Tree Hill
Galeotti: "Haley's journey is going to be finding out what her limits are, what she's capable of and exploring how to hold down the fort."
Lafferty: "For the first time in his life, Nathan is put in a situation that he has absolutely no control over. It's frustrating for him to have to deal with it."
Bush: "The pendulum in her life has swung. For a while, it was career above all else. As the career fell apart, she put her family first and became a wife and a mother. Now she's going to find herself with a balance and find herself in the middle: how to have a career that makes her happy, how to have a marriage that makes her happy, how to run a business with her best friend."
Lafferty: "The entire slamball arc. It's a hybrid sport of basketball, hockey with trampolines. I had the opportunity to learn it and play with guys who have mastered the sport. That will forever be the funnest thing I've ever done."
Galeotti: "We went to Utah and that was a wonderful experience. We had water balloon fights on the roof of Karen's cafe. Staying up late filming until three in the morning."
Stepping Behind the Camera
Bush: "I was fortunate they gave me the second to last episode ever to direct. It's my favorite episode I've ever made. I'm looking forward to getting to that point in the season because 12 and 13 really are a love letter to our little family, from the writers to the actors and the crew. It felt really good."
Watching With the Fans
Lafferty: "I'll watch them (the ninth season's episodes). We all have a vested interest in how this thing ends up and I'll also be paying close attention to fan reaction. We all want to make sure the fans are pleased by the way it ends because they've buoyed us this whole time."
One Tree Hill airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.