The expression "Actor slash [fill in the alternate occupation]" is an omnipresent one in Hollywood. But few actors have made their slashes bump up against such an exciting secondary project as Chad Michael Murray.
The One Tree Hill star is preparing to release Everlast, a post-apocalyptic graphic novel on December 5 and participated in a Q&A last night at The Grove's Barnes & Noble. That's where he sat down with ETonline to talk about this bold new project, the organic way it came about and what fans should expect from his One Tree Hill return!
ETonline: The crowd outside is reaching thunderous levels. But for those who don't know, where did the idea come from?
Chad Michael Murray: The original inspiration for Everlast actually came from a man who showed up on my porch one day, rang my doorbell, and was preaching about the end of days. He asked if I wanted to be one of the people to survive the end of the world and I was taken with his story, so I listened to what he had to say. What he was selling wasn't for me, but I was so inspired by what he had said. What if there were only certain people left to reign the earth when everything came to an end? What if humanity would get a second chance? And from that, Derek Everlast was born.
ETonline: And who is Derek Everlast?
Chad Michael Murray: He's a soldier hidden amongst men whose job in life would be to find those chosen people and keep them safe before the end of the days so mankind can be rebirthed. It kind of grew itself, it became organic, so limitless. We have so many stories we want to tell, it's all about finding the right time to tell them. The first one gives a taste. I've done these short stories, which I give to the fanbase. "Here's Phoenix, take a read, here's a taste." We've gotten great responses so far.
ETonline: I'm amazed that you turned what could have been a potentially terrifying situation -- man shows up on your porch preaching about end of days -- into something so creative.
Chad Michael Murray: That reminds me of The Alchemist.
ETonline: In life, are you someone who believes in those fated kind of moments?
Chad Michael Murray: I am a man of opportunity. I believe luck is when opportunity meets preparation. I wasn't always, but I've become someone who wants to be an open vessel. It's not something that I necessarily take the credit for -- I've got good mentors, an incredible woman, and because of these things I've been more open in situations where things have happened that skewed the story for me and have created next stories. I'm working on my next book right now behind the scenes, right as we're dropping this one, my next one is in the works. It's completely different though.
ETonline: So it's not a continuation of the same story?
Chad Michael Murray: We're gonna continue the story, I already have the breakdown and treatment all ready, but we're gonna wait. It'll be about two years before you see a conclusion to this one story. But I'm gonna have short stories in the meantime. Two, three a year, so we can see his tales.
ETonline: The way you've promoted this story through social networking has been sort of revolutionary. From your perspective, how helpful has it been to engage with your fanbase from the beginning of this process?
Chad Michael Murray: I have had a really cool rapport with my fans and this is coming from somebody who was 100 percent against the internet a year ago. If you said, "Hey Chad, start a Twitter" I would have said no. But I realized I was missing out on that camaraderie with the fans and an opportunity for people to see who I am and what I've become as a man. So with the Everlast, it's been great because we’ve done these free teases and eleven page short stories. It's been really interesting.
ETonline: Actors will often talk about creating opportunities for themselves when nothing appealing exists. Did any part of you think of an endgame for this series which might include a film or TV project for you?
Chad Michael Murray: I'm a writer by nature. Ever since I was young I kept a notebook and a journal next to my bed, and up until a few years ago everything that I did was handwritten, so when these ideas were spawned, and other ideas that I intend to make public, it wasn't for creating something for myself. It was just because I thought it was a really cool story and very relevant right now as we head into 2012. I don't necessarily buy into all that but I think people are concerned that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Do I see it as a potential TV series, a potential film? Yeah absolutely. When I'm writing it, I see the vibe of a Constantine or The Crow. That kind of dark, heavy, male,testosterone-driven story, which could be cool.
ETonline: Although you are returning to One Tree Hill in January, it sounds like acting might be on the backburner right now. Is that fair to say?
Chad Michael Murray: I took a year off after One Tree Hill. I needed it to clear my mind and kind of fall back in love with the idea of acting. I met my mentors and started training and studying with the best people, and so now I have a new found love for acting. My intent now is to just feed the creative fire as much as possible. Because I don't feel satisfied unless I put that creative ember out there. Acting is something I love and I want to make sure that the things I choose are things that I would want to see. Projects I put my stamp on and feel comfortable telling my fans, "This is a good one, check it out."
ETonline: On that tip, what was it like returning to the One Tree Hill set to close out Lucas' story?
Chad Michael Murray: It was really cool. It was fulfilling. It felt like I'd never left. But was amazing to see the cast and crew again. They see all that I've really grown up and that I was a very different person, so it was amazing. The experience was great. You may not like the hair in the episode, but hey, it's what I had at the time [laughs]. I was trying, it just didn't work out. But ultimately, I hope we gave the audience what they were asking for. I wanted to do it for them.
For more on Everlast, click here and find a list of Chad Michael Murray's upcoming appearances below:
San Francisco- December 11th at Noon
Location- Comix Experience, 305 Divisadero Street
Portland- December 13th at 5pm
Location- Cosmic Monkey Comics, 5335 NE Sandy Blvd
Seattle- December 14th at 4 pm
Location - Local Color at Pike Place Market, 1606 Pike Place
Buffalo- December 28th at 7pm
Location- Barnes & Noble, Amherst, 1565 Niagara Falls Blvd
Toronto- December 29th at 5pm
Location-The Silver Snail, 367 Queen St West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2A4
Chicago- January 4th at 7pm
Location- Barnes & Noble, 55 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, Illinois