'One Tree Hill's' James Lafferty on big changes for Nathan Scott

oth-james-lafferty-1.jpgWhen "One Tree Hill" premiered in 2003, Nathan ( James Lafferty) was a self-centered teenager with a bad attitude. He had respect for only one thing: basketball. Though Nathan has since grown into a respectable and responsible adult, his passion for the game and dream of playing in the NBA has remained constant.

Of course, staging NBA-level basketball games and casting entire teams isn't exactly an easy feat for a television show to accomplish, regardless of budget. Plus, having Nathan on the road and away from his family for most of the season doesn't make for much of a story.

This season, Nathan retired from the game for health reasons and for the opportunity to spend more time with his pregnant wife, Haley ( Bethany Joy Galeotti) and their son, Jamie ( Jackson Brundage). Zap2it caught up with Lafferty to talk about his reaction to Nathan leaving basketball behind.

"It was pretty melancholy," he admits. "I was sad to see his basketball career go, but as things worked out production wise, it was kind of the way we had to do things."

Walking away from the game did open new doors, though. "I figured that it's a good opportunity for us to show a different side of Nathan and for him to show his worth outside of the basketball court, which he's never really had the opportunity to do. I'm definitely sad to see the basketball go, but it's a welcome challenge for the character, which is a welcome challenge for me," Lafferty says."

He could probably coast on his NBA money for a while, but instead, Nathan has jumped right into a new career -- he's joined his best friend Clay ( Robert Buckley) as a sports agent. Lafferty assures us that it's not going to be a smooth ride.

Nathan has been a basketball star since he could walk, so he's gotten used to being very, very good at his chosen profession. We've already seen some frustration out of him when he was unprepared for the new agent gig, and Lafferty says that Nathan's adjustment period is giving him new material as an actor. "It's nice to see the character react to something that he's not necessarily good at, that he has to work to get better at," he tells us.

"I think so far, he's still learning. He's going to make mistakes and he's going to have missteps, but he's under the guidance of Clay, who is a seasoned veteran in the field," he says. "It's going to be a long road for Nathan to become the agent that he wants to be, but I think Nathan is the kind of guy who won't stop until he gets it done the right way."

As for that spoiled kid that Nathan used to be, Lafferty admits that he sometimes misses the guy.

"I really do miss playing him as an ass," he laughs. "It was really fun to do that, very entertaining. We can't ever get that back, of course; that ship has sailed. But I look back fondly on those days, definitely, when I got to play Nathan as the villain. It was a blast."

For more from our chat with James Lafferty - including what's on the horizon for Nathan and Haley, and the challenges of directing your friends - check back in with Zap2it next week.

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Photo: CW

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