'One Tree Hill' exclusive pic: Tyler Hilton revives Chris Keller

oth-tyler-hilton-michael-may.jpgOver the summer, Zap2it was the first to tell you that Tyler Hilton was returning to "One Tree Hill" as the always controversial Chris Keller... and now we've got the first pic of a new, matured, more sophisticated Chris Keller in Season 9.

Okay, so we're lying about the maturity thing. Chris Keller returns in the season premiere in a flurry of juvenile jokes, and we promise, you'll feel like he never left. (And, more importantly, you'll wish he'd never left!)

First thing is first: Don't worry, Keller isn't in town to break up Haley and Nathan. We visited the Wilmington, NC set in September and got the scoop from Hilton himself. "When [news broke] that I was coming back, everybody was like 'So excited! So excited! If you break up Nathan and Haley I'm going to kill you,'" he jokes. "I was hoping for a nanny position in the family. I don't think they want me anywhere near that."

Keller is involved in Red Bedroom Records, so he's very Tric-adjacent, meaning he'll be hanging out with Chase ( Stephen Colletti) a lot. "We just totally bromance out, which is hilarious. I think it's funny. I think Chris Keller needs friends and never has guy friends, and he just thinks Chase is the coolest," Hilton tells us.

Colletti rolls his eyes at that one. "Chris Keller would like to look at it as a bromance, but it's a little one-sided," he teases. "Chase can be reluctant to opening himself up to Chris Keller but he's getting to know him. They've spent some quality time together, Chase being at Tric and Chris being in the recording studio. They get really friendly with each other. This season their paths cross, almost a little too close for comfort."

Through hanging out with Chase, Keller starts to spend some time with Chuck, which explains this exclusive shot from Episode 2. They'll even duet! "I did a song with Michael May, who plays Chuck on the show. He's my partner in crime also, this season," Hilton says, revealing that May even joined him on stage at a few concerts outside of the show -- check out a video of the two on stage together below!



With all the bro-time, Keller has little time to mess things up for Haley and Nathan. "Amazingly, it doesn't revolve around chicks, much to my dismay, but it's also such an action-packed season -- I mean, there are a lot of girls around, but I don't really get punched or anything for hooking up with girls like I did before," Hilton says. When he read the first page of Season 9 -- which you can see in the teaser video here -- he was shocked. "I was like 'Holy s***. Where is this even going to go?' It's the weirdest stuff."

Though he's distracted from his usual womanizing, Keller is still Keller. "We record a lot at a strip club, which was hilarious, and I end up doing some interviews for some girls I want working for me," he says of Episode 3, which was one of his favorites -- particularly given that co-star Paul Johansson directed it. " Mark [Schwahn] creates Chris Keller, and I feel like Chris comes from some dark place in his mind, and Paul, I think, also has that alter ego inside of him. It's fun working with them, they add all this crazy s*** to the character."

We're hoping that Hilton and Bethany Joy Galeotti will join forces for another song before the end, but they both warn that Haley's storyline is so harrowing this season, she may not break for much singing. "I love working with her as a musician and she's really talented, but as I was reading the scripts, I was like eh, maybe she's not going to be singing," Hilton says. "I would think that everything's going to end on a good note in the last episode, so maybe."

"I just can't imagine within the context of the storyline right now, because Haley's story is so heavy, I just don't know that she'd find time to go sing," Galeotti adds. "However, Tyler and I may sing together at some point, for an event or something like that, but as far as on the show... maybe. Maybe in the café. Maybe Mark could write a thing where Chris is singing and he's really good and it like makes me feel better, so I jump on stage. I don't know."

Even without a duet, Galeotti says that she's thrilled to be working with Hilton again. "Tyler and I have this sort of Abbott and Costello thing going on where I'm the straight man and he's the funny man and it works out wonderfully," she says. "We have a lot of fun together. And I love the Haley and Keller dynamic; it's so funny. He's kind of her dips*** little brother. She tolerates him. I think she's annoyed that there's someone in her life that she had an indiscretion with in her marriage. I certainly wouldn't have that person in my life if that had been me, but Haley is much more mature than I am, apparently."

Of course, the big question for Season 9 is how everyone is going to end up by the time episode 13 rolls around. Hilton tells us that he hopes Keller settles down a little bit. "I think Chris has done a lot of work for everyone and taken a lot of s***. I think it'd be awesome if he found a girl this season who was a Chris Keller match, so he wouldn't be hitting on everyone else's girl. I think he deserves it."

We might beg to differ -- we'll get back to you in three months.

Tune in this Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. EST for the very last season premiere of "One Tree Hill."
Photo/Video credit: The CW
SHARE IT ON: