Why Hollywood won't cast Chad Michael Murray anymore

At one point in time, Chad Michael Murray was the biggest teen sensation of his day. Not only did he capture the hearts of teen girls with his role on The WB/CW television series One Tree Hill, but he also snagged kisses from starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff with roles in Freaky Friday and A Cinderella Story. And it didn't hurt that he wasn't too bad to look at either. But unfortunately for this once-beloved actor, the 2000s are long gone, and the acting gigs he used to audition for are being given to the next generation of TV and movie star hopefuls. As such, before we knew it, Murray all but disappeared from Hollywood.

What happened to the former teen heartthrob? Well, quite a lot, actually. Keep reading to find out why Murray's largely been shunned by the spotlight — and what he's been up to since his days spent playing a high schooler.

He left One Tree Hill too soon

Let's be real, Murray was pretty much the sole reason people tuned in every week to watch One Tree Hill. Or, at least, he was a main attraction. His character, Lucas Scott, was the relatable, brooding bad boy that girls couldn't get enough of, but, to the surprise of many, the actor chose to leave the show after its sixth season, exiting with co-star and on-screen love interest Hilarie Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer. Although it initially seemed to be a smart move on his part (going out on top before the show went downhill), that decision ultimately did more harm than good.

While fans may remember Murray for his roles in A Cinderella Story (2004) and House of Wax (2005), it's worth noting that he landed those gigs during his time on OTH. Once he departed the hit show, Murray quickly faded away from the public eye. Despite earning himself consistent work over the years, none proved to be as popular as OTH, which seemed to indicate that the series itself was clearly a major part of his success as an actor. So, given Murray's disappearing act, it'd appear that he'd jumped ship far too soon — and without a life jacket.

One Tree Hill was his career peak

There's no denying it: One Tree Hill was a high point for Chad Michael Murray's career. Maybe even the high point. This isn't to say that Murray is a bad actor or that he hasn't shown growth in his work. Rather, it's all about recognition. Murray was known for playing teenager Lucas Scott, and he did a darn good job. But successfully transitioning into adult roles isn't easy, and it can be difficult to separate oneself from his or her fan-favorite character. Many young actors get stuck in the "teen" phase of their careers, finding it hard to come out from it (Think: Freddie Prinze Jr.). Those that do succeed often possess major acting chops and that extra "it" factor (Think: Rob Lowe).

While we're not saying Murray doesn't have an "it" factor, he just didn't sell it — at least, not how fans thought he would.

After departing OTH, Murray said he aspired to follow in the footsteps of Brad Pitt and James Franco, telling Lindzi.com, "I think that to be in the 'it column,' you need to have that passion. Whether you're a character actor or a leading man, you still have to work your butt off. Some people don't and they have short-lived careers. Others do and they have incredibly illustrious careers."

Perhaps referencing his own career, Murray also noted, "Sometimes you get a large fan base from people saying, 'He's a good looking guy.'" Unfortunately, looks will only get you so far.

He became too old to play a teen

At some point within every teen actor's career, they become too old to be considered for their tried-and-true bread-and-butter roles. Although Hollywood is notorious for casting slightly older actors in teen-central roles (to avoid child labor laws), an actor can only believably play a teenager for so long. One of Murray's career issues was that his breakout role as a teen happened when he was already rapidly approaching that invisible "too old" red line. Murray was already in his twenties when he was cast on One Tree Hill. At the time, he still had a youthful appearance and could pull off the teenage role with ease, but, when he left the show, he had arguably aged out of the teen TV genre. And, after saying goodbye to OTH, he was effectively thrust into career limbo, unable to snag another teen character gig for which he was known.

Not everyone can embody a Stacey Dash, after all — the actress who played 16-year-old Dionne in Clueless when she was 29 years old. Everybody's genes are different.

His personal life has remained under the radar

Chad Michael Murray's personal life went from center stage to underground, which may have negatively affected his professional career. In April 2005, Murray married fellow One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush (who played Brooke Davis, one of Lucas' love interests on the show). However, their union was short-lived. Bush filed for divorce in February 2006. Initially, the actress tried to file for an annulment, citing fraud as the primary reason, but that petition was denied. Considering the drama that went down at the end of their marriage, we don't know how the exes managed to behave professionally on set. After that on-air and off-camera debacle, Murray's personal life was rarely shared with the public again.

In 2014, Murray quietly dated and then married actress Sarah Roemer, who is probably best known for playing Shia LaBeouf's love interest in the 2007 thriller Disturbia. Not long after, the two announced that they were expecting their first child, a son who arrived a few weeks before Father's Day in 2015. In November 2016, Murray and Roemer announced they were expecting their second child, a daughter, who was later born the following March.

Despite how Murray's family has grown over the years, they've managed to keep a relatively low profile on social media. And while that may be a healthy personal decision, it certainly hasn't helped audiences remember Murray's superstar past or crave a comeback for his career.

He's still working, but who's watching?

We must admit, watching Murray during those drama-filled moments as One Tree Hill's bad boy grabbed our attention each TV season, but his subsequent roles have largely gone unnoticed. The actor actually hasn't stopped working; it just seems like he did. Have you ever seen Cavemen (2013) or Outlaws and Angels (2016)? Don't feel bad. Lots of people haven't, and the critics who did watch those flicks weren't exactly pleased.

In 2013, Murray managed to claim a featured role on Chosen, an online web series distributed through Crackle, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Although the show has survived three seasons, it's still struggling to maintain its foothold within a market that is saturated by strong original series on YouTube, Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. While Murray was likely happy to have snagged a consistent TV gig as Chosen's Jacob Orr, his career desperately needed a more high-profile gig with a more popular show on a major network.

Perhaps that's what Murray was trying to achieve when he landed the role of Jack Thompson on the first season of ABC's Agent Carter in 2015, but that show didn't survive beyond its sophomore season, squashing hopes of a mainstream comeback. And his as Sam Phillips in CMT's Sun Records  didn't do much better.

He has interests outside of acting

Like many Hollywood figures, Murray has used his celebrity status to dabble in projects loosely related to acting. He starred as Alicia Keys' love interest in the music video for "Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)" in 2010. The following year, he embraced his inner Lucas Scott by co-authoring a graphic novel titled Everlast — a pre-apocalyptic story that focused on Derek Everlast's quest to guide people to a safe place called Haven, where mankind is essentially reborn. Murray also penned a thriller-romance novel about a soldier called American Drifter, which was published in 2017. Co-written with actress Heather Graham, Murray told Us Weekly that book was "inspired by a dream."

But that's not all. In 2015, he launched a fundraising initiative for a children's hospital in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., raising money by selling One Tree Hill-inspired apparel, which he promoted through social media.

While it's fair to say he's not afraid to venture into new endeavors — and for that we applaud him — if Murray wants to make it big in Hollywood, he may need to focus all of his attention on acting.

How he can turn it around

Is Chad Michael Murray completely irrelevant in Hollywood? No, of course not. It's possible for him to revive his star status, and he may be making moves to get on the right track. He wisely took a guest-starring role on Fox's Scream Queens during the show's freshman season. Landing the gig of Brad Radwell — Chad Radwell's older brother — was certainly a step in the right direction, exposing him to new fans in key demographics, particularly the teens and young adults that fuel today's celebrity culture. But he'll need to do a lot more than guest star in one popular series, though comedy might be a worthwhile career consideration for him despite his past dramatic works. He's dabbled before — remember his hilarious rendition of Britney Spears' hit song "…Baby One More Time" in Freaky Friday? Maybe it's a genre worth exploring.

Regardless of his future acting gigs, we will absolutely be keeping an eye on Murray, but, unfortunately, it remains to be seen if Hollywood will do the same.