How the cast of 'One Tree Hill' bonds over texts about parenting

Tyler Hilton and the guys of the former CW series share tips and encouragement in their dads group chat.
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Everett Collection
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

It’s been almost 17 years since "One Tree Hill" premiered, but the tight-knit male cast members are still texting on the daily — only these days instead of deciding where to hang after work, they’re talking diapers and onesies.

Tyler Hilton, who welcomed his first child — a daughter named Winnifred — with actress and filmmaker Megan Park in December, says his "One Tree Hill" family has been by his side, via text, as he tackles first-time fatherhood. In fact, Hilton’s official membership into the dads’ club prompted the formation of a group text.

“They’ve all been so stoked for me. Everyone’s so supportive,” said Hilton, who portrayed Chris Keller in the series. “They started a 'One Tree Hill' dad chat on Father's Day. It was the cutest thing. ... I was thinking, ‘Dude, if any of us thought we'd one day be on a Father's Day chat together, we would’ve been like: What?’ It was wild.”

Tyler Hilton and Megan Park with their baby daughter, Winnifred.Steve Cowell

“I remember when we were younger, trying to figure out how to be adults,” Hilton continued. “Now we're figuring out how to be parents. I'm sure all of this will seem charmingly immature in 10 years. We'll look back and laugh, ‘Look at us trying to figure out diapers!’”

The group conversation includes co-stars Chad Michael Murray (Lucas), Paul Johansson (Dan), Kieren Hutchison (Andy), Lee Norris (“Mouth”) and Antwon Tanner (“Skills”), who started the chat. “Antwon leads the way, but we always forget he’s even a dad because he’s so cool,” Hilton said. “He’s got adult children, but doesn’t seem like a dad.”

So, what exactly do the dads discuss? “It’s just a really fun thing,” Hilton said before pulling up the group thread. “Let’s see ... there was a lot of, ‘Gentlemen, here we are — we’re dads! Yeah!’ And lots of joking around.”

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Hilton, 36, said he's been leaning on Murray for advice since Park became pregnant. “Chad helped me out a bunch before Winnie came along,” he said of Murray, who has two children with his wife, Sarah Roemer. “He and Sarah filled me in on everything and I texted him more than anybody in the beginning — about the dumbest, simplest things. He'd be like, ‘Dude, get (onesies with) zippers — don't bother with snaps.’”

Hilton said he has long admired Hutchison’s parenting skills. “Kieren was such a special guy to me,” he said about the New Zealand actor, who has a 12-year-son, Quinn, with wife Nicole. “He was my first friend who had a kid.”

While the "One Tree Hill" brotherhood’s clearly going strong, it’s not just the guys helping Hilton navigate parenting. He remains tight with mom-of-two Hilarie Burton, having continued acting together on Lifetime’s "A Christmas Wish," which also starred Park.

“Hilarie’s been checking on me constantly,” Hilton said. “She’s super-invested in us having a kid. She was really involved with helping us prepare for the birth and we’ve FaceTimed with her son, Gus, who’s so into Winnie.”

Park, 34, added that now that she’s a mother, she has a deeper understanding of the heartbreak friends like Burton have faced in becoming parents.

“We have a lot of people close to us who have struggled with infertility, and having Winnie has given us greater empathy for them,” Park said. “We also know that sometimes having a second baby’s not as easy as the first, so we don’t know what’s in store, but feel grateful it was so easy for us and that Winnie’s healthy.”

While Hilton says he wants more kids, for now he’s relishing every baby milestone, albeit amid the coronavirus pandemic. Initially quarantining in Park’s native Ontario, the trio are back in L.A., where Park’s making her directorial debut on "The Fallout," while Hilton’s working on a follow-up to 2019’s "City on Fire" album. He also recently released a touching video for his ballad, “When I See You, I See Home” — and eagle-eyed "One Tree Hill" fans can spot Norris and Hutchison in wedding footage.

As for whether Winnie has inherited his love for music, Hilton said she loves his bath-time serenades. “She’s so obsessed and I get so much joy out of it!”

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