One Tree Hill TV series renewed by Warner Brothers
'One Tree Hill' star can relate to his character's family troubles, and he's not afraid to say that the show will be back next season

Chad Michael Murray found himself watching from the sidelines at a charity basketball game for Family Services' Big Buddy program. It's an unusual position for the 'One Tree Hill' star, whose good looks are often cited as a reason for the show's popularity among teen girls.

Never mind that politicians and producers are making plans and deals about where the second season of One Tree Hill will shoot if the show is picked up again.

Chad Michael Murray is confident he knows what will happen with the hit WB drama.

"I promise you we will be back in Wilmington," he said recently. "The show's done so great. And the environment in Wilmington is like a character. I love the people here."

He enjoys living at Wrightsville Beach and the weather when it's warm.

"I don't like the winters here," he said. The Buffalo, N.Y. native should know something about cold weather.

As a child, Mr. Murray played football and started acting at an early age, although it was mostly just for his friends and family.

When a football injury landed him in the hospital at 15, a nurse encouraged him to pursue modeling. A few years later, he was working for companies such as Skechers, Tommy Hilfiger and Gucci.

But Mr. Murray, who turns 23 in August, wanted to do more.

He soon caught the eye of The WB network. First, there were guest appearances on Dawson's Creek, and then the actor popped up on Gilmore Girls. He also starred in a television movie, The Lone Ranger, which aired on the network.

Then One Tree Hill came along.

The part of the brooding, troubled athlete differed from some of his earlier roles, which ran to more outspoken and aggressive characters, but it was the perfect star turn for Mr. Murray.

He plays Lucas Scott, a wealthy father's illegitimate son who would rather read than socialize and prefers playing street basketball to strutting around in a letter jacket.

Mr. Murray said he could relate to the character. His mother left his family when he was 10, and he said he wasn't a popular kid in high school.

"Lucas started the season on moral high ground, and he's hiding from his life. He's avoiding it," said Mark Schwahn, creator of One Tree Hill.

The idea behind the show was to take this introverted kid and place him in an unfamiliar environment as a star player on the high school basketball team.

Since its premiere last fall, the series has become most popular among teenage girls. No doubt Mr. Murray has a lot to do with that.

But while he was working in Wilmington, he didn't notice the popularity.

"I haven't heard too much about it," he said. "You don't have a lot of perspective about that here."

Instead, he just tries to enjoy himself and part of that is being mischievous.

One prank of his involved rearranging magnetic refrigerator letters on one of the sets. Fortunately, an inappropriate word didn't make it to the small screen.

"He likes to have fun and be one of the guys on the set," said David Hartley, producer for the series.

There were a few other occurrences not that anybody's willing to share the details.

"He is a practical joker," Mr. Hartley said. "He loves fireworks, firecrackers. That's all I'll say."

Mr. Murray likes joking around, too. When asked to say something about girlfriend and co-star Sophia Bush, for example, he said, "I'd better be careful," while smiling and hugging her.

"We play games on the set all the time," Ms. Bush said. "He keeps the cast and crew laughing, but when it's time to shoot, he's a professional."

And away from the spotlight, his friends say he's a sweet guy. One of his projects is fixing up a car for Ms. Bush.

Mr. Murray is also a natural athlete, according to his on-set coaches. During his time off, he played on a flag football league on Fridays with other cast and crew. He helped them organize a charity game at the end of their season.

Mr. Murray is spending his hiatus in Australia, working on a feature called House of Wax, a horror movie about a group of teens stranded in Iowa, where they are terrorized by a creepy gas-station owner named Bo. His co-stars on the project are Elisha Cuthbert (24), Jared Padalecki (Gilmore Girls) and Paris Hilton.

If fans can't wait until then to see Mr. Murray on the big screen, they'll have a chance when A Cinderella Story premieres in July. He plays Prince Charming (or Austin Ames in this case) to Hilary Duff's downtrodden princess-in-the-rough.

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