“To answer your question…..”she feels like an old friend.”
That was Danneel Harris’ heartfelt and candid response to my question about what it felt like to be returning to the role of Rachel Gattina on One Tree Hill after a year’s absence from the role in this, EM’s second part to our two-part article series on the return of Danneel Harris/Rachel Gattina to the hit CW series One Tree Hill.
And what a busy year it has been for the talented thirty year old actress who originally hails from Lafayette, LA but has made Los Angeles, CA her home since moving there to take up acting. Since last appearing on the series back in season 5, Harris has worked on such projects as the independent movie Mardi Gras (which is still in post production), guest starring roles on such hit TV series as NCIS, How I Met Your Mother, CSI and CSI: Miami. 2009 really turned up the heat for the red-haired beauty who found herself not only on Maxim’s Hot 100 list of beautiful woman yet again (coming in at #28), but as the host of their MTV special high-lighting this year’s event. In the early part of 2009, Danneel Harris was out promoting the comedy movie Fired Up, in which she starred as a cheerleader.
In late spring and early summer, Danneel Harris found herself in front of the cameras again having gained roles in not one, but two upcoming big screen feature films: Screen Gems horror flick, The Roommate and CBS Films/Escape Artist’s comedy The Back-Up Plan starring Jennifer Lopez. Both movies are going into post production looking to release in early 2010.
And now she is on set in Wilmington, NC filming her return to One Tree Hill as the sexy, known to be a troublemaker, Rachel Gattina for the hit CW series’ 7th season (while also flying back and forth to NYC to finish filming The Back-Up Plan). EM caught up with Danneel Harris in between her hectic filming schedules to chat with her about coming back to One Tree Hill
After reading reports on the internet of Danneel Harris being spotted out and about sporting blonde hair instead of her trademark long red locks, the first question that came up was naturally about her hair. Was the blonde hair going to mean a change in looks for her character Rachel Gattina, who has always been a redhead. Danneel put our mind to ease about this.
“She’ll be the feisty redhead of course,” Harris says with a laugh then goes on to explain that the blonde hair was for a role in the movie, The Back-Up Plan. “I must say, I did enjoy being a blonde,” she says of the temporary hair color change, “but Rachel is and always will be a redhead!!!!”
Whew! Good to know some things won’t be changing for Rachel Gattina, who is in for a lot of other changes to her life if spoilers from the net and hints from Danneel Harris are any indication.
With filming of One Tree Hill has only recently begun, there still seems to be a lot of spoilers out on the net about the upcoming season and one in particular for Harris’ character was posted by an extra who was on set for the filming of a scene from an unnamed episode. According to the extra, the character of Rachel Gattina was seen sporting a huge diamond engagement ring given to her by Dan Scott (played by series regular Paul Johansson) who is the father of not only one, but two of Rachel’s former love interests: Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty) Scott.
Other spoilers about Rachel’s new storyline are swirling around as well, but when we spoke to Danneel Harris about her character’s upcoming storylines, she remained demure about them.
“Without giving too much away,” she says speaking guardedly, “I think this season will give me a chance to explore issues I haven’t dealt with yet in my own life, or in any character I have played to date. It will be fun to play an “older “, and hopefully “wiser” version of Ms. Gattina.”
Changes in her character’s story and direction is nothing new to Harris when it comes to playing the role of Rachel Gattina. Since first appearing one One Tree Hill in season 3, the sexy redhead, Rachel has been a vixeny cheerleader, a model and a heroin addict/possible thief. With so many changes going on every time she comes back to the role, I asked Danneel Harris what that was like for her and was is it in essence like playing a new character when it happens.
“Rachel is a dynamic character who is known for changing her opinions, personalities, friends, and locations,” Harris says sharing her take on the character with us. “I feel like each time she returns to Tree Hill from one of her many adventures, she is a bit different. So playing a “new” Rachel is a bit like playing the old Rachel. Rachel is such a fun character to play, so the intrigue is more of ….’What will she do next?’.”
So what does Danneel Harris see as the biggest challenge coming up for her in the new directions that Rachel Gattina will be going in during her story arc in season 7 of One Tree Hill?
The actress says that she is looking forward to playing Rachel with more of a grown-up attitude. “There are consequences for her actions, and I believe she has learned that lesson. Conveying that to the audience, and making them believe she understands the ways of the world, will be the challenge.”
There is no doubt in this reporter’s mind that, no matter what then new directions are for Rachel Gattina, Danneel Harris has a lot of loyal fans who are excited to see her returning to One Tree Hill, but what we wanted to know was her take on having such support for her work and her career.
The first thing Harris did was give me a one word description of her fans.
Then she spoke at more length about her feelings regarding this loyalty and support being given to her.
“The fans have been so supportive of me in the past few years. Rachel had a tough start, but I think the fans have grown to love her, or at least love to hate her. One Tree Hill fans are awesome! They have also stuck with me through all my outside endeavors as well (movies and such).”
Then she took a moment to give us a heartfelt address to the fans directly.
“Thanks you guys!!! I really mean that.”
As stated earlier in the article, this has been a busy year for Danneel Harris and we also took a moment to ask her about the two back-to-back movie projects she recently completed work on. The one she just completed is The Back-Up Plan, starring Jennifer Lopez and the other one is the Screen Gems horror movie, The Roommate. Danneel shared her thoughts with us about these two projects.
“I just wrapped a movie called the The Back-Up Plan. It stars Jennifer Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin. I played a character named “Olivia”, who is a friend to Alex O’Loughlin. I had several scenes with Mrs. Lopez, and she is quite lovely as well as incredibly beautiful,and totally sweet! I also did a film for Screen Gems called The Roommate. It is a thriller starring Leighton Meester, Minka Kelley,and Cam Gigandet. I played Minka’s best friend. It was soooo much fun! The girls were awesome! It was also good to see Leighton again, we hadn’t hung out since she finished filming Surface(pre-Gossip Girl) and left Wilmington years ago. It was fun to catch up, and I couldn’t have picked two better chicks to work with!”
Lastly, before we let Danneel Harris go to back to her super busy schedule, we asked if there was anything personal she would like to share with us and the readers. Her response was very telling about what an intriguing and diverse person this talented and charming actress is. We found out who’s awesome to her and where her love lies.
“My dog’s name is Icarus, he’s awesome!” Harris says, speaking with warmth and affection about the little white cockapoo dog who has been traveling with her from set to set and keeping her company.
As for where her heart lies in matters of affection. “Oh, I love sharks!!!!!!” she says with a happy smile.
And if fans want to keep up with the latest thing going on with Danneel Harris, she gave us this bit of information.
“I’m the twitter account with the picture of me and the nurse shark.”
Click here to go to her verified twitter account.
One Tree Hill season 7 is set to premiere on the CW Network on Monday September 14th at 8PM EST and Danneel Harris/Rachel Gattina will be back for the first of her seven (and possibly more) appearances in episode 4 titled Believe Me, I’m Lying on Monday, October 5th at 8PM EST on the CW Network.