What the cast of One Tree Hill looks like today

One Tree Hill was a huge part of our collective consciousness for almost a decade, its soapy stories of romance, intrigue, and basketball powering through nine seasons of must-watch television. Similar to The O.C., which also began in 2003 but only lasted four seasons, the show was responsible for launching the careers of a whole bunch of hot young things. Among other actors, One Tree Hill featured Chad Michael Murray, Sophia Bush and Laguna Beach Lothario Stephen Colletti.

The years have been kind to the One Tree Hill crew, with most finding their footing in the comfortable world of TV — including one who found it in another super-hot teen show. Several branched out into movies, and one even boasts a successful country music career. With the series that made them in the rear-view, the future looks bright. To paraphrase Gavin DeGraw's still insanely catchy theme song, they don't wanna be anything other than what they've been trying to be lately (apologies since it's now stuck in your head).

Chad Michael Murray (Lucas)

Blonde hunk Chad Michael Murray played heartthrob Lucas, so it's unsurprising his career trajectory found him frequently playing the brooding hot guy in the likes of Freaky Friday, opposite Lindsay Lohan, A Cinderella Story, opposite Hilary Duff, and even horror remake House of Wax, opposite Elisha Cuthbert (and one Paris Hilton).

The year 2019 saw Murray returning to his soapy roots, and the CW, in a big way as a new cast member on mega-hit Riverdale. Playing a sexy cult leader was a dream come true for Murray, who told Vanity Fair, "As an actor, it's kind of on that list of things like, 'You want to play a cult leader?' The answer is always yes."

The actor described returning to the teen pantheon as "trippy," but he relished the opportunity to branch out a little bit, as, "Lucas was very much the moral compass of One Tree Hill, and there [was] really no opportunity for me to step outside those boundaries."

Sophia Bush (Brooke)

Murray's onscreen, and former IRL, paramour Sophia Bush had a similar journey post-One Tree Hill, finding her footing in Chicago P.D., Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Chicago Med. She revealed to Dax Shephard on his Armchair Expert podcast that her relationship with Murray was exploited by the One Tree Hill producers. According to Bush, producers were "really deeply inappropriate" and even "ran TV ads about it [the breakup]." The actor claimed her personal life was used for storyline purposes too, sharing, "I think they kind of lived for the drama." 

She joined fellow cast and crew members in accusing producer and series creator Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment in a letter published by Variety. Speaking to The Guardian, Bush described a pattern of intimidation on set, explaining, "We all just thought it was pathetic. It was upsetting. For some women, it escalated enough that it was traumatizing." She noted, "We wanted to just make a very united and clear statement that we all went through this."

Hilarie Burton (Peyton)

Bush's longtime BFF Hilarie Burton, who starred alongside her as Peyton on the hit show, has appeared in Grey's Anatomy, Extant, and the Lethal Weapon TV series in the years since One Tree Hill wrapped. Speaking to Refinery29, Burton reflected on why she and Bush have remained close for so long, noting they had, "All these male bosses telling us how teenage girls should act and feel ... I think when you're in the trenches with someone ... once you're past it, there's a bond there you can't deny."

Burton confirmed to Refinery29 that she wouldn't be up for a One Tree Hill reboot. And, as she explained to Cosmopolitan, the show arguably wouldn't get made in the same incarnation nowadays due to its representation of young women. As Burton advised, "I think it's incredibly important for shows that have a strong female presence, particularly shows about teenage girls, have at least fifty percent representation in that writers' room. It's vital." 

The actress is happily, and very privately, married to fellow TV star Jeffrey Dean Morgan. She also signed the letter accusing showrunner Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment alongside Bush.

Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley)

Looking back on One Tree Hill, the one thing Bethany Joy Lenz wishes she could change is how perfect Haley was. However, unlike her female castmates, she blames herself. Speaking to Bustle, Lenz described her younger incarnation as insanely stubborn, admitting, "I pushed a little too hard sometimes for Haley to not have as many flaws as maybe the writers wanted her to." The actor reckons this might have given teen viewers unrealistic expectations for romantic relationships, noting, "There was a strange pressure there."

However, Lenz still adores her most famous character. "She was the grounded one, the one who at the end of the day really knew who she was and what was important," the actor gushed. Since departing Tree Hill, Lenz has appeared in lots of big-name shows, including Dexter and Grey's Anatomy. As for showrunner Mark Schwahn, who got fired from his position on The Royals following the allegations made against him, Lenz told Entertainment Tonight, "I feel like that's the best thing that could have ever happened to him. ... I hope he has that reckoning with himself and maybe can turn things around."

James Lafferty (Nathan)

James Lafferty was the raven-haired counterpart to Chad Michael Murray's blonde, all-American guy, and he's in no denial about how One Tree Hill kickstarted his career in a very real way. Speaking to Romper, Lafferty credited the show with developing another skill aside from acting, too: "The cool thing about being on One Tree Hill that was different from the rest of my life was that I got to learn how to be a filmmaker." He joined forces with former co-star Stephen Colletti to collaborate on a project called Everyone Is Doing Great, in which the two play struggling actors.

Lafferty and Colletti were incredibly hands on, crowdfunding the thing into existence, while Lafferty served not only as star but also as writer, director, and producer. They always knew they'd work together again, but, as Lafferty explained to Romper, it was all about finding the right project. "We didn't just wanna put things out there," he shared, adding, "And then, you know, once Everyone Is Doing Great started rolling we were like this is great, this is the one." 

Elsewhere, Lafferty starred in Netflix's super-spooky TV series The Haunting of Hill House, as well as Underground and Crisis.

Lee Norris (Marvin/Mouth)

Lee Norris, aka Marvin or "Mouth," has one of those recognizable faces that's just everywhere. Over the years, the actor has been featured in a ton of great stuff, including movies like Zodiac and Gone Girl, as well as another hit teen show, Girl Meets World. He joined the cast of The Walking Dead in 2017, telling Skybound that it'd been a long time coming, joking when the time finally came, "I got an email from my agent one day asking if I'd be interested in this little arc for two episodes and I said, 'Absolutely. How quickly can I get to Atlanta?'"

Looking back on his career, Norris noted he's "always played these either like nerdy or kind of quintessential good guys" and he was ready to "switch it up and do something a little bit different." The actor also expressed an interest in directing like co-star James Lafferty. In an interview with Teen Drama W***e, he opined, "I don't typically like to take something on until I feel like I've learned every possible thing about it, and directing is such a huge task... But, yeah, I'd be interested in that eventually."

Paul Johansson (Dan)

Hot Dad Dan, played by Paul Johansson, was a divisive presence on One Tree Hill, but his death in Season 9 hurt fans regardless. In the years since, the actor has appeared in a variety of TV shows, including CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationBones, and horror fantasy series Van Helsing. In 2015, he joined Mad Men, telling Uproxx he "lit up" upon initially reading the part, explaining, "All the scripts were very interesting and you could see that Ferg [his character] is immediately a presence, and that's cool." As a massive fan, he was thrilled to even be given the opportunity, admitting, "I was giddy when I got the call." 

Still, One Tree Hill was a very special experience. As reported by Stars and Celebs, at the 2015 EyeCon Return to Tree Hill 2 convention in Wilmington, N.C., Johansson gushed, "I loved playing Dan Scott. It was the most fun ever." However, that very same year, BuzzFeed reporter Susan Cheng wrote a damning report about the actor, suggesting he might not actually be as far from his villainous onscreen characters in reality. Johansson responded to the publication's request for comment with a letter from his lawyer.

Antwon Tanner (Antwon/Skills)

In keeping with several of his co-stars, Antwon Tanner's post-One Tree Hill career has focused almost entirely on television work, with appearances on Get Shorty TV series, Lucifer, and Rizzoli and Isles, among others. The year 2014 saw him branching out in a big way as Jason on the irreverent Adult Swim comedy series Black Jesus.

Tanner also joined forces with his former co-stars Hilarie Burton, Danneel Ackles, and Robert Buckley to make festive flick The Christmas Contract in 2018, deadpanning to Entertainment Tonight at the time that it was like "a paid vacation" for them. Burton, meanwhile, joked that in the next film maybe her character and Tanner's will finally get together, suggesting there might be more projects in the cards for the group. 

"I've joked that I want to be the Judd Apatow of Christmas movies and just continue working with my friends and just trade places," she said.

Barry Corbin (Coach Whitey)

When One Tree Hill debuted, all eyes were on Chad Michael Murray, Sophia Bush, and the rest of the core cast, but veteran actor Barry Corbin was arguably the biggest name on the cast list. He's enjoyed a helluva career over the past 40 years, including starring in everything from No Country for Old Men, Modern Family, The Ranch, and Blood and Oil. Speaking to The AV Club, Corbin noted the role of Coach Whitey came easily, even though he had no interest in basketball. 

"I got out to North Carolina. Well, the guy who was really handling and staging all the games, this real coach, said, 'Would you like to come watch us run some plays?' I said, 'No, not particularly,'" Corbin recalled. "He said, 'Well, if you don't watch us run plays, you're not gonna know what's happening.' I said, 'I'm not gonna know what's happening anyway. All I've got to do is look like I know what's happening.'" Corbin noted that the coach admitted that the actor was "the best TV coach he'd ever had."

Craig Sheffer (Keith)

Poor Craig Sheffer's character had to suffer the indignity of being murdered by Dan (Keith reappeared in dream sequences for the remainder of his tenure on One Tree Hill). The actor hasn't been as prolific as some of his co-stars in the years since, but he hasn't completely dropped off the radar either. Sheffer has appeared in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Major Crimes, The Mark, and Destruction Los Angeles, among other projects.

In 2016, he spoke to Shock Ya about his role in Code of Honor, a movie in which Sheffer plays a special ops operative's former protégé who works as an FBI agent. The actor jumped at the role because the script was "such a page-turner," adding, "I had no idea what was going to happen in the end. Even then, I wasn't absolutely sure what truly happened." Laughing, he added, "I thought something that was that unpredictable was very exciting. There was a lot of room to create a character who's a tortured former special forces guy who's now following this madman."

Moira Kelly (Karen)

Actress Moira Kelly had an impressive career prior to landing on One Tree Hill, appearing in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and voicing adult Nala in The Lion King. Still, the teen soap was a major moment for her. Since finishing up on the show, she's appeared in Numb3rs and Drop Dead Diva, as well as TV movies like A Smile as Big as the Moon, Deadly Sorority, and Girl in the Bunker.

Speaking to Goose Talk in 2011 about playing Nala, Kelly was effusive, describing it as "a lovely experience." The actor joked about why she was eventually chosen for the role after a grueling audition process, noting, "With the character of Nala, she was very sensible, very nurturing and for them I think it was more the quality of voice that they were looking for; a sort of authoritative voice but with a lot of warmth. My children will definitely say I have the authoritative side [laughs]. I don't know about the warmth."

Stephen Colletti (Chase)

Stephen Colletti was already a household name when he joined the cast of One Tree Hill, having previously starred on hit MTV reality show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. He's appeared in a variety of TV movies since, including All About Christmas Eve and Suicide Note, as well as re-teaming with Lafferty for their crowdfunded short Everyone is Doing Great. In an interview with Us Weekly, Colletti described the project as "more of a grounded look at people who have success in the entertainment industry and what is closer to the reality of their living as opposed to what's projected..."

The actor admitted it was difficult to find work post-One Tree Hill. "It was tough. It was actually really, really hard, adjusting back into the [audition] rooms. I thought I was gonna be confident, but auditioning is brutal," he admitted. Colletti wouldn't rule out a reboot of the show, telling Us, "I would totally be down for that. I don't get sick of it. ...I'm gonna always be out here saying, 'Let's get the movie, let's get the show, let's get the reboot going. I'm in.'"

Danneel Ackles (Rachel)

Danneel Ackles (née Harris) tussled with other characters frequently as Rachel on One Tree Hill. Since leaving the show after the fourth season (she made guest appearances in subsequent seasons), the actress settled down with Supernatural's Jensen Ackles. The happy couple are also parents to three children.

On making her return to acting on the show that made her husband a star, Ackles told Variety, "Jensen knows... all of the little nuances that make the show so great, so I just really leaned on him more than ever." She added, "He is the show, and he knows that, so I just really leaned on him for direction, so if everyone hates it, it's all his fault."

The actress also reunited with some of her One Tree Hill family for The Christmas Contract in 2018, telling Entertainment Tonight, "This one was like a good opportunity to come back." She noted, "It was a chance to get to work with people we hadn't worked with in different ways." Ackles also joined those who accused Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment in 2017, as reported by Variety at the time.

Jana Kramer (Alex)

Following in the footsteps of her wild onscreen character, actress Jana Kramer became a bonafide country musician in her own right. Speaking to Taste of Country, Kramer explained she sees her music as a way of empowering other women. "Last night at a show a girl wrote on her phone, 'You saved me,' and I literally got so choked up that I almost started sobbing," she revealed.

But Kramer's life hasn't been all positives. She had a difficult relationship with her first husband, telling People he nearly killed her when she was barely 20 years old. The actress and musician also weathered a very public cheating scandal with her second husband, as reported by E! News. Still, she survived, telling Taste of Country that she wants "to show women out there that it can be done," noting, "That you can be an amazing mom, be a career-driven woman and also do something that you love and that you want to make time for yourself as well." 

Acting wise, Kramer has been featured in Support the Girls, Christmas in Mississippi, and lots more. She also signed the letter against Mark Schwahn along with her castmates.

Austin Nichols (Julian)

Much like many of his ex-castmates, Austin Nichols has enjoyed a TV-centric career since saying goodbye to One Tree Hill. The actor has appeared on The Walking Dead, Bates Motel, Ray Donovan, and The Village, among other shows. Nichols spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the death of his Walking Dead character, describing his final day on set as "probably one of the most fun and most fulfilling."

The actor found his role as the duplicitous Spencer to be the most challenging of his career, noting, "I feel like my job as an actor is to find a reason why he's doing these things and make it all work. ... But it was tricky to play him and it was frustrating." He added, "He always kept me guessing." 

On what he will miss most about working on the show, Nichols said the cast and fans alike, sharing, "I've never been a part of something that connected with so many millions of people and it's just really cool to talk to people on the streets and see how much people love it."