The Untold Truth Of '00s Heartthrob Chad Michael Murray

In the early aughts, just before Zac Efron and the Jonas Brothers dominated the era, Chad Michael Murray ranked high in the pantheon of Hollywood heartthrobs. Thanks to his work as  Austin in "A Cinderella Story," Jake in "Freaky Friday," and, most notably, the broody Lucas Scott in "One Tree Hill," Murray was a fixture of teen magazine covers and a topic of conversation in chat rooms. Even though he was one of the "it" guys of an era, he has yet to forget where he came from. As he once told Page Six, "I [was] just a kid from Buffalo, moved out [to Los Angeles], took a chance and I fell headfirst into it."

But there's more to Murray than just being millennial man candy. He's expanded his repertoire beyond the small screen to a number of different avenues, and has even started his own family in the process. "[My work now is] better than my kids going to school in the upcoming years and having their dad's posted up [in] someone's locker or something like that," he said in a 2020 chat with HollywoodLife. "It feeds the soul for the current place that we're in, and I personally think that the world needs more of it."

Chad Michael Murray's childhood wasn't easy

Chad Michael Murray grew up in Buffalo, New York, alongside three brothers, a sister, and a half-brother. His father, Rex, became his sole guardian after Murray's mother left the family when he was 10. "I idolize my father," Murray shared with Seventeen. "He took care of all ... of us and raised us well. He would be so tired, and he would help us study to make sure that we got the grades that we wanted. He was never hard on us." Even with a solid source of strength from his dad, Murray was still targeted by bullies. "I had my two front teeth knocked out by a sixth grader in first grade," the star once said, per Us Weekly. "My house got egged... I hated high school. I didn't have any friends, because I didn't fit in."

As he got older, Murray became a sports star. He added soccer, hockey, and volleyball to his resume throughout high school, but it was football that called to him most. His sophomore year, he had to take a break from playing after he sustained a major stomach injury. Murray recalled to Seventeen, "I was in the hospital for two and then out of school for two." That injury didn't pull the plug on his high school football career entirely, however, and he ended up even playing in the championship game when he was senior.

A life-changing medical incident influenced his career path

The injury that Chad Michael Murray suffered at age 15 turned out to be more serious than anyone could have imagined — so serious that his loved ones worried it might cost him his life. "My intestines twisted when I was 15 and they didn't know what was wrong," he revealed on SiriusXM's "The Jess Cagle Show." "When I started bleeding internally, my stomach didn't expand. So the doctors couldn't tell that I was bleeding. ... I almost died." A priest was even brought in to read Murray's last rights, but luckily, a fast-acting nurse helped the family avoid tragedy. "I'll never forget her," Murray said. "She got four units of blood and saved my life that night." Murray suspects food might've played some role in his intestinal issues.

As traumatic and scary as the ordeal was, Murray was able to find comfort in TV and movies while he was in the hospital. And that comfort inspired him to pursue a career in acting. "The one thing that really saved me from that moment in life ... was television and film," he said. "These movies and television would be on and I said 'I want to do that, man. I want to give people something to smile about.' ... That's why I became an actor."

A broken nose wouldn't hold Chad Michael Murray back

Before he could fulfill his dream of becoming an actor, Chad Michael Murray made a pit stop in the modeling world. Serendipitously, one of the nurses who cared for Murray when he was hospitalized as a kid happened to be a model and suggested he give it a shot. "I know, every young boy's dream right?" he quipped to Vulkan Magazine. "She gave my father and myself the confidence to leap forward." After he graduated from high school and connected with an agent at a modeling convention, he headed to Los Angeles. 

While his early days on the West Coast weren't particularly glamorous — "I had a dollar a day to buy a chicken sandwich or a salad from Jack in the Box," he shared with Teen People (via — he began to get jobs modeling for brands including Skechers, Tommy Hilfiger, and Gucci. 

Those early days were also fairly intense. When he was just 18 years old, Murray was attacked at a Burger King and wound up needing to have his nose reset. "But it wasn't a nose job — I hate the fact that people say it was a nose job!'" he said in Entertainment Weekly in 2004. In a separate chat with Cosmo GIRL! (via, Murray said that his reset nose worked out well for his career. "Because before that, I kept getting comments that my nose made me too 'pretty,'" he dished.

He turned down another major teen show for One Tree Hill

Chad Michael Murray sure found success with 2000s teen shows. His first big break came on "Gilmore Girls" as Tristan Dugray, one of Rory's preppy love interests. "I believe that was my first recurring role on television," Murray shared on "Today." "I was really just getting accustomed to the world. And so, I was just kind of holding on for dear life."

His most remembered role is broody basketball player Lucas Scott on "One Tree Hill," which catapulted him to mega-star status. In a "Sliding Doors" turn of events, Murray reportedly turned down the role of Ryan Atwood on "The OC" to play Lucas. Despite his star-making turn, Murray has mixed feelings about the series' legacy, particularly given the reportedly sour way he left after Season 6. "It's a section of my life that I deleted," he said at a 2022 Christmas Con panel, according to People. "A lot of development, a lot of growth as a human being, and [I] just deleted so much of it."

But those aren't the only then-WB (now The CW) shows that the actor has appeared on. He also recurred on "Dawson's Creek" as Charlie Todd, a suitor of Joey's. Years later, he returned to the teen drama space as kooky cult leader Edgar Evernever on "Riverdale." "It's trippy, but at the same time, I'm loving every minute," Murray told Vanity Fair.

He's a sports lover on and off screen

It's no secret that Chad Michael Murray is a fitness buff. Naturally, he's played a lot of athletically inclined characters over the years. On "One Tree Hill," Lucas Scott was a top basketball player. The sport was so important to Lucas' arc (and the fictional town of Tree Hill altogether) that it was woven into the show's original opening credits sequence. Though basketball wasn't Murray's sport of choice IRL, he and co-star James Lafferty (who played Lucas' half-brother Nathan) reunited in their Tree Hill Ravens uniforms for a basketball game in 2022.

In 2004's "A Cinderella Story," love interest Austin Ames plays a sport that is near and dear to Murray's heart. In the flick, Austin is the school's football captain who strikes up an online connection with Hilary Duff's character.

Football isn't just an on-screen love of Murray's — it's his life off-screen, too. "Family, food, football. That was the make-up for me growing up," he shared in a video tribute to his favorite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills. "Where I come from...that's what we have." He's even passed along the love of the game to his children. "There is a little bit of pride when my son wings a football across the room," he gushed to People.

He had multiple romances on the set of One Tree Hill

Both on and off the screen, Chad Michael Murray romanced a number of ladies during his time on "One Tree Hill." Murray married his co-star Sophia Bush, who played flirty fashion designer Brooke Davis, in 2005.  Murray and Bush's real-life romance was short lived; the pair separated five months later and Bush filed for annulment on the basis of fraud in early 2006. To make matters worse, rumors circulated that Murray had a thing with Paris Hilton when they worked on "House of Wax" together. What made things more awkward is that Murray and Bush's characters got back together on "Tree Hill" right after their real life uncoupling. "I was always going to put [my character] ahead of everybody and everything else," Bush shared with her co-stars Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz on the "Drama Queens" podcast (via Us Weekly). "Nothing mattered to me but being honest for her."

Bush wasn't the only Tree Hill Raven that had a thing with Murray; much like his basketball-loving character, Murray was known for his rebounds. He was engaged to co-star Kenzie Dalton, who played a cheerleader extra on the show, for seven years before the pair called it quits in 2013. The two became engaged in 2006, when Dalton was a senior in high school. But the plot thickens: When the two became engaged, Murray's divorce to Bush wasn't even finalized yet.

He was reportedly written off of One Tree Hill

At the end of Season 6 of "One Tree Hill," Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) ride off into the distance together away from the titular city. In reality, both Murray and Burton left the series for good, save the occasional guest appearance. Despite reports of failed contract negotiations between the stars and the producers, Murray claimed in a since-deleted video that he was being written off of the show. In the video (via Distractify), Murray was recorded saying, "They're not bringing me back next year ... because they want to save money. ... Start blogging and being pissed off." To make matters more cloudy, the actor and "One Tree Hill" creator Mark Schwahn — who was later accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women — reportedly had a contentious relationship over the course of making the teen soap.

As for his co-star Burton, she credits Murray for coming to her defense against an attack from their ex-boss. "He watched our boss grab me in front of a lot of people, and you know, Chad didn't have anything to lose because he knew our boss hated him anyway," Burton revealed on the "Drama Queens" podcast.

Murray returned to the series briefly in a short Season 9 cameo as a tribute to the show's die hard fans. "The opportunity came, and I knew how important it was to these fans who are everything to the show — and that was it," he shared with TVGuide.

Chad Michael Murray is a published author

Similar to his character on "One Tree Hill," Chad Michael Murray is a published author. In 2011, he created the graphic novel "Everlast." The series spawned spin-offs, including the short story "Flight of the Cormorant: An Everlast Story." "For the last eight years I've loved and grown with this story," Murray told ET in 2011. "It came to me after meeting a man who showed up on my doorstep in Wilmington, NC. I really hope everyone enjoys it."

Murray also co-authored the novel "American Drifter" with Heather Graham  — a New York Times best-selling author, not the "Boogie Nights" actor. The novel, described as "equal parts passion and suspense," was released in 2017. "American Drifter's romance was inspired by a dream I had," the actor shared with Us Weekly. "The dream had played out so vividly, as if I was a fly on the wall watching this tale go down." Murray even recorded the audio book version of the novel.

What's more, Murray's even published poetry.  All that said, he doesn't take his success for granted. "I wouldn't consider myself an avid reader — I want to be but I haven't incorporated it into my lifestyle," he shared with Metro in 2014. "Writing is a beautiful craft and so many people do it so well that I'm just incredibly grateful to get published."

He's had good luck with Marvel and Hallmark

In the years since his time as a teen magazine heartthrob, Chad Michael Murray has expanded his on-screen career through a variety of roles. On television, he's popped up on "Sun Records" as legendary music producer Sam Phillips, as well as Marvel's "Agent Carter"as Agent Jack Thompson. "It's so much fun to me. Best job I ever had," Murray gushed about "Agent Carter" to Screen Slam. "Having the best boss in the world doesn't hurt. They create such a wonderful family environment." Some of his most beloved (and recent) roles, however, come from the actor's roster of Hallmark Channel films, particularly the beloved holiday-set ones. "[These films are] incredible for the world," the actor gushed at ChristmasCon 2022, according to Heavy. "We all love the holiday season. We all love these films. I'm going to do them for as long as I can."

But it's not all rom coms and holiday cheer for the actor. He's co-starred in films alongside the likes of Nicolas Cage and Bruce Willis, and has even stepped into the decidedly darker role of a serial killer in "Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman." In 2023, Murray returned to more family-oriented fare in "Sullivan's Crossing," a CTV series based on the novels of the same name by "Virgin River" author Robyn Carr. But that's not the only return this series marks for Murray — it is also broadcast on The CW, original home to "One Tree Hill," and co-stars Scott Patterson, aka Luke Danes from "Gilmore Girls."

Chad Michael Murray is devoted to family and faith

Of all of the roles he's played, Chad Michael Murray's favorites are as husband and father to his family. Murray married his wife, actor Sarah Roemer, in 2015. The two met on the set of the Crackle series "Chosen." "I'm a romantic. I'm a family guy. I want that core," he gushed to E! News early in their relationship. "I tend to keep everything quiet. I love my life. That's the part that I keep for myself." The couple, who already share a son and daughter, announced on Instagram in July 2023 that they were expecting baby No. 3.

His familial focus, as well as his faith, has also guided Murray throughout his career choices. His faith is something that he has incorporated into his daily life, both on and off set. As he once told Fox News Digital, "I get up every day and I put that spiritual armor on, read the Bible and do some devotionals and then get ready to go to work."

Murray is so committed to his lifestyle that he has turned down roles that don't align with his principles. "If you don't fully love and embrace the character that you are inhabiting, it will show on screen," he continued in his interview with Fox News Digital. "I always want to give the people that I'm working with and the people who are going to watch the movie, the most of me."