Tyler Hilton on Why People Still Love ‘One Tree Hill’ & Making Christmas Movies

Chances are you recognize Tyler Hilton either from his music or from playing Chris Keller on the long-running teen drama series One Tree Hill, which aired nine seasons from 2003 to 2012 on The WB then The CW.

You might also know him from the Christmas movies he’s done, including a few Lifetime ones with OTH costars (Christmas on the Bayou, The Christmas Contract, and A Christmas Wish) this year’s When Christmas Was Young on CBS.

Hilton shares why he thinks people are still loving One Tree Hill and what he enjoys about making those Christmas movies (especially with Hilarie Burton Morgan).

You’ve done a few Christmas movies. What do you enjoy most about them?

Tyler Hilton: I love watching Christmas movies and they’re honestly some of my favorite movies to do. I don’t know if every actor would feel this way, but I don’t really consider myself an actor either. I feel like I’m a musician who keeps getting lucky enough to get on the screen. And so every time I do, it’s kind of novel to me and really fun. If I could do a Christmas movie every year, I would. I love it. I know people who dread it or are just doing it to stay afloat or whatever. I love the plots. I literally get chills every time towards the end. It makes me want to cry every time. I get swept up in it.

Also Christmas is the time where I feel like everyone watches a lot of those movies — there’s some movies you watch alone and there’s some movies you watch with people and Christmas is a time where everyone’s in the living room, some people on the floor, some people laying on the couch and everyone’s watching one movie and Christmas movies are great for that. It’s like being a part of everyone’s Christmas holiday by being in a Christmas movie that they’re all watching together. And I love that [When Christmas Was Young aired] so close to Christmas. This isn’t one of those like “coming November 2.” [People will have been] in the Christmas spirit. Family will probably have already flown in, that kind of a thing. It really feels like something people [could] hopefully share as a group.

You’ve reunited with your One Tree Hill co-stars in Christmas movies in the past, but not in When Christmas Was Young.

No, there wasn’t anyone in this one. That’s right. [Laughs] Yeah, I think every other Christmas movie I’ve done, there’s somebody from One Tree Hill in it, which is so funny.

When’s the next onscreen reunion of any kind?

I don’t think there’s anything planned. There’s always something random in the works, but if I could do another Christmas movie with Hilarie, I would love it. We always have such a blast, and I think I’ve worked with her more than any other actor in my career. Somehow we’ve worked in like, what, two or three Christmas movies, One Tree Hill, we did the show Extant together that also had her husband [Jeffrey Dean Morgan] in it. It was us and Halle Berry. And I did something else with her, too. But I’ve worked with her so much and I love it. She seems like the kind of girl to me that I would love to do 10, 20 Christmas movies together by the end of our life or something, just have so many together. But I love it. It’s really fun.

Tyler Hilton in 'Extant'

Michael Yarish/©CBS/courtesy Everett Collection

I always enjoy the Christmas movies you have done together.

Oh, that’s so cool. Our families are all so close and it ends up being such a great hang.

People are still enjoying watching One Tree Hill and discovering it because of streaming, those reunions in movies, and also the Drama Queens podcast [with Hilarie Burton Morgan, Sophia Bush, and Bethany Joy Lenz]. What do you think it is about it that that’s the case, that people still like the show and like watching it now who haven’t seen it before?

Of all the things that we’ve all done separate from One Tree Hill, nothing has stayed and had such longevity with people as this show. People watch it over and over and over again. The writing’s great, the actors are all so good and real. We love each other a lot and when we were doing that show, we were the most important [people] to each other. It’s right around that college age — when you’re a kid, it’s your parents, when you’re a little older, it’s your spouse or your kids, but when you’re in the late teens, early 20s, your friends are who matter the most and they matter more than even whoever you’re dating and stuff like that. We all met during that time.

And the show went for nine years, so we stayed really close throughout that process. Then because of the conventions and because of the different things that keep happening and all the press that we did together during the show, we get to see each other all the time. And amazingly it wasn’t a recipe for anybody hating each other. We all still really like each other and it’s flowered into other stuff. Like I said, I worked with Hilarie’s husband for a while on a show and Hilarie and my wife [Megan Park] I think might even be better friends than Hilarie and I are now. So it’s just things like that, they just kind of keep flowering and we get to keep coming back together.

They had me on the Drama Queens podcast and then they did the Drama Queens Live and I came out and did some songs and did some hanging with them on Drama Queens Live. Then we just did another convention. So it feels like I get to see these people all the time and I feel so lucky. I have no idea why this gets to happen to us, but it’s so cool. It really is.

Where can we see you next? Any other film or TV roles coming up?

No, I don’t think so. My wife is a director and a writer and she has the movie coming out called My Old Ass that’s starring Aubrey Plaza and I’m scoring it so I’m doing all the music for it. So that’s been kind of my focus for the next few months, and then I don’t know, maybe I’ll do another record or go on tour, but that’s pretty much it right now.

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