This week, fans finally get what they’ve been waiting on for nearly three seasons — Chad Michael Murray‘s triumphant return to “One Tree Hill.” Lucas is back in Tree Hill, but just for a brief stop at the airport, where he’ll pick up his niece and nephew, who will be staying with him while Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) searches for Nathan.
Zap2it was on set with Murray when he shot his scenes for the episode, which was directed by series star Austin Nichols. When we sat down with Murray, we asked where Lucas and Peyton have been over the last few years they’ve been AWOL from Tree Hill.
“I made, for my own process, a back story, but I don’t want to talk about that in case [‘OTH’ creator Mark] Schwahn comes up with something else. I don’t want to ruin his execution. This is my world. It’s less dramatic than it was,” he tells us. “He’s over in New Zealand. The kiwis are quite nice.”
Fans were left hanging the first time that Lucas left Tree Hill, at the end of Season 6. Hopefully, his exit this season will give us a little bit of character closure, though Murray makes no promises. “I can’t answer that,” he says, when asked if the fans will appreciate the goodbye this time. “I wish I could. I’m happy because, for me, this is just about the fans. That’s the one thing that really pulled me in, you know? There are kids waiting out in the parking lot right now. The fans have been the one thing that kept this show on the air for nine years, and they’ve been its heart and soul for the entire journey. That’s the only thing I had on my mind. We’ve got our coach in Mark, and I’m a positions guy.”
The episode sees a reunion not only with Haley, but also with Jamie (Jackson Brundage). “I haven’t seen him in three years, so, it’s been fun,” Brundage told us. “When I started the show I was like 42 inches and now I’m 50 inches.”
Murray begs to differ. “He has not changed a bit!” he jokes. “I love that kid. He’s so intelligent and so
smart. Everybody on the show was so blessed to get that kid. It was
incredible to watch him grow, but ever since day one, you never had to
tell him his line. You never had to tell him
to get on his mark. He always knew it. He’s just solid. So it was great
to see him.”
As a character, Jamie is thrilled to have his uncle back, despite the dire circumstances. “I guess he’s more surprised,” Brundage says. “There’s that one line that he said
throughout the seasons, ‘Uncle Lucas!’ so that’s what he says in this
episode. ‘Uncle Lucas!'”
Murray tells us that revisiting Lucas Scott was a challenge to him, because he’s experienced some personal and creative growth in the years since he last appeared on the show.
“I’ve spent the last few years working with some great
mentors, people and teachers. I’ve gone to different theater classes and
learned about what you’re trying to say and how you represent each of
those feelings,” he says. “When I was here doing ‘Tree Hill,’
Lucas was just very simple. He was the moral center of the show, so to
step into that and to pull it all back into this very simple, very
easy-going [character], that was the challenge. To take everything I’d
been working on and to incorporate it into what
I used to do.”
Check out more photos from his return below. Yes, we know the hair is bad — as does Murray. “This is my ‘Freaky Friday’ hair,” he laughed. “It was actually longer when I got here, but they cut it. Lucas couldn’t pull off the long hair, I guess. This is what we’ve got.”
For more from our set visit with Murray, including insight from Nichols, Sophia Bush, Mark Schwahn, and Galeotti, click here. Tune in Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.