As Lucas Scott once said, “Tree Hill is just a place somewhere in the world.” But for fans of the long-running drama One Tree Hill, it’s the place where nine seasons of magic happened, from the unforgettable high school romances and basketball championships to the weddings and babies that came later on. And this week, four years after the show aired its final episode, many of the original stars are heading back to the place their characters called home.
Ok, we know—Tree Hill is fictional. But the cast and crew are returning to their old stomping grounds of Wilmington, North Carolina, where the series was filmed, and that’s good enough for us. They’ll be in town for InsideOTH, a fan convention celebrating the series on July 23 and July 24. The event will offer meet and greets with the stars, photo ops, and even an insider tour of Tree Hill to see some of the locations used for the show. It’s an experience that’s sure to thrill diehard fans—but no one is more excited than the man who brought Lucas Scott to life onscreen: Chad Michael Murray.
“This is going to be different than any other convention they’ve had before, because it’s actually being made by the people who made the show for the people who love the show,” Murray told InStyle after discussing his new movie, Outlaws and Angels, last week. “A lot of the crew from the show will be there, and the majority of the cast is coming back to hang out with fans for the weekend in the home where the whole world started.”
For Murray, it’s the perfect chance to reconnect with his former co-workers. “I love seeing everyone and catching up,” he said. “A lot of us have families now, so it’s always nice to share kid stories and goof around.” And the trip back to North Carolina doesn’t hurt, either. “I love and miss Wilmington,” he said. “I still have so many friends there, so I love going back. Not to mention, Wilmington is gorgeous. If I could get a beach house out there and just spend the rest of my days with my family on the beach, I’d be a happy man.”
Murray envisions that his OTH character would be just as much of a family man by now, and even spilled his thoughts on what Lucas would be up to today. “I’ll bet he’s happily married, probably with two or three kids by now,” said Murray. “They’re already starting to enter school, which is crazy to think of. It’s been six or seven years since Peyton and Lucas took off with the babe, so the babe’s already six or seven.” And that means the kids are old enough to start following in the athletic footsteps of their all-star dad, who played basketball for the Tree Hill Ravens before coaching the team after high school graduation. “I would think that the kids are in school and learning to play basketball now, among other sports,” said Murray. His game of choice for the Scott family’s youngest members? “Football, football, football!” Murray said, laughing.
No matter what the Tree Hill gang is up to now, their story lives on, thanks to the show’s loyal followers—new and old alike. “I’m finding that some of the fans at these conventions now are 11, 12, 13 years old, and there are droves of them,” said Murray. “Tons and tons of young fans that are just finding the show for the first time on Netflix. So thank you, Netflix, for bringing the show back, because it speaks to all these generations. It’s a generation that understands this type of world, and I’ve got to give my hat off to Mark Schwahn for creating a world that was so inviting for people and where everyone could connect with someone.”
The best part of One Tree Hill’s longevity? “The journey is just completely starting over for a new generation,” said Murray. “That’s what great about this show. It’s timeless, in a way.”