One Tree Hill alums James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti explore life post-fame in Everyone Is Doing Great
It's been eight years since One Tree Hill ended with one final, nostalgic basketball game. And now One Tree Hill alums James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti are reuniting with a new series Everyone Is Doing Great, playing characters loosely based on their own real-life experiences since leaving the hit WB-turned-CW show.
The eight-episode Hulu series is written and produced by Lafferty and Colletti and hits closer to home than any project they've done in the years since One Tree Hill. The dark comedy follows famous actors Seth (Colletti) and Jeremy (Lafferty) who starred together on the fictional mega-hit vampire TV series Eternal. But it's been five years since that show ended, so now they're leaning on each other as they awkwardly navigate the perils of life and love after intense fame. And while One Tree Hill definitely wasn't a vampire drama and the character names and TV show-within-the-show are fictionalized, Everyone Is Doing Great comes from a very real place for Lafferty and Colletti. "I can't think of anybody better to tell this story," Colletti tells EW with a laugh about playing well-known actors struggling to cope with life after fame.
In the years since One Tree Hill, Lafferty and Colletti have been trying to work together again on other projects but they just kept hitting walls. It wasn't until they started reflecting on their time playing Nathan Scott and Chase Adams on the cult-favorite teen drama that they realized they already had the perfect material ready to go for a dark comedy — and they could just write it and make it themselves. "We lived enough life to realize and look back on our lives since One Tree Hill had actually ended to say things have been absurd and difficult and wonderful at the same time, enough for us to find some real humor here and a story to tell," Lafferty tells EW. "And we built some characters around some of these experiences that we've had or this world that we've been exposed to, and what we ended up doing was finding a story that both of us could really relate to."
Colletti adds with a laugh, "You write what you know, and this world for a foundation was something that we knew very well. Enough absurd things happened to us over the years, it made sense as our jumping off point to tell a darker story. But it's not just about two actors or people that are in the entertainment industry, it's about people figuring out life and the entertainment industry is just a backdrop for it all."
And Lafferty and Colletti are quick to point out this isn't some autobiographical account of their lives post-One Tree Hill. Again, these are fictional characters. "We thought there was a lot of opportunity to actually make these characters have had even more success or experience a higher level of fame than we ever have," Lafferty says. "One Tree Hill is a show that is pretty well known and it has its fanbase, but we never experienced the world of celebrity that Vampire Diaries or Gossip Girl or The O.C. did. I mean, that was like a whole other level of celebrity."
Lafferty wanted to explore what that ultimate level of fame is like for someone, especially after it goes away. "What is it like for somebody from the cast of a show who literally can't go to the grocery store anymore? I can still go to the grocery store easily!" he adds. "But these other actors, their reality is completely different, and so we wanted to set these characters up that high so that when it all went away, it was that much more of an adjustment and they had that much more learning to do. There was so much more story there."
Colletti confirms he's also never had any issues going to the grocery store, even with the added notoriety of his time on Laguna Beach. But he can imagine how having and losing that level of fame could lead someone down a dark path. "These characters, when you meet them, they're making poor decisions," he says. "We want them to be able to do bad things — and do very bad things — and to be able to show them in a place where they're not making smart decisions. They're doing drugs, they're drinking excessively. That is a whole different story."
The "raw and honest" story and all the highs and lows that Seth and Jeremy go through on Everyone Is Doing Great may surprise One Tree Hill fans, which is what Colletti and Lafferty want. "People that have seen James and I on One Tree Hill will right away be questioning, 'Is this their lives? Is this what they've lived?'" Colletti says. "We want to give them an intrigue into what might be real, what might not be real, what is from our lives or not, but understanding that there's this perception and reality that we're playing with of what you might think our life is like. You might think because we've been on One Tree Hill that our life has always been a cakewalk. And it hasn't. At all."
There are very real moments that the actors pulled from their own lives post-One Tree Hill. "There's a moment where somebody on the street asks Seth, 'Are you still acting?' It's an ironic question to get asked when you might be on your way to your third audition that day during pilot season and it's your 15th failure that year to get a job," Lafferty says. "Those are things that happen to you. That question has been asked to me many times."
It took some time but Lafferty eventually found the humor in getting asked that question. "That's part of what we wanted to explore with this show," he says. "You take a step outside that moment and you recognize that the question was asked completely innocently and that it actually makes a lot of sense to ask you that question, and it becomes a story that you want to tell because it is ironic and it's awkward and it's painful and it's kind of hard to watch." And that's why they named the series Everyone Is Doing Great. "It's about all these characters who, if you meet them on the street, they might tell you, 'I'm doing great,' but you pull back that curtain and they're actually not doing that well at all."
But where Seth and Jeremy are struggling, Colletti and Lafferty are thriving. After a successful festival screening tour of the first two episodes of Everyone Is Doing Great, they launched an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the rest of the first season, which was ultimately acquired by Hulu. "Fans of One Tree Hill coming to this show expecting the One Tree Hill-level production value of beautiful lighting and score and whatnot, that's going to be a shock," Lafferty warns. "It's beautiful in its own indie way but it's not as highly produced. But we were lucky enough to sell out screenings for the first two episodes and most of those people were One Tree Hill fans, and we got really great feedback. We kind of realized maybe this One Tree Hill audience is growing up with us and maybe they're ready for this in the same way that we were ready to make this."
One thing Lafferty and Colletti aren't ready for, however, is fully leaning in to the nostalgia and rewatching old episodes of One Tree Hill. "I haven't watched it in a long time, but I need to," Colletti admits, while Lafferty adds, "Yeah, same. Not for a really long time. I feel like it still would be weird for me because it would be like watching home videos from when you were in high school, like hundreds of hours of them. [Laughs] They're such a big part of my life. Like Stephen said though, at some point you're going to have to, but I don't know if it's happening yet for me."
But that doesn't mean they're against more One Tree Hill reunions like the one they both attended in February 2020. "It was a great time to get together with some of our cast members and people bringing different memories to the table," Colletti says, adding that "there's a lot of people from One Tree Hill that we could see ending up in our show, and we would love to have them." Just don't hold out for any One Tree Hill revivals — Nathan and Chase are the past, and Jeremy and Seth are the present... and hopefully the future. "The best is yet to come for this story," Lafferty says.
Everyone Is Doing Great season 1 is now streaming on Hulu.
One Tree Hill