Chad Michael Murray: Helping “one splatter at a time”

Chad Michael Murray, photographed several years ago outside a Habitat for Humanity home he helped build.

Note from Executive Editor Tim O’Shei: It’s always fun to watch fan reaction to celebrities, and LSY! Deputy Editor Amy Brooks and I had the chance to do that recently when we hung around actor and writer Chad Michael Murray for an evening as he autographed copies of his graphic novel, Everlast, at a Barnes & Noble store in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. (You can watch a video of Chad in action by clicking here or scrolling to the bottom of this page.) Chad’s a charmer – that was easy tell by the crowd’s reaction. But that evening, I also thought back to the first time I interviewed Chad, in a much different setting, and one that was as far removed from Hollywood as can be. That day, he showed an entirely different kind of charm. Here’s that story…

Picture a neighborhood of houses with chipped paint, tattered shingles, plywood windows and overgrown lawns. Some of them were “decorated” with rainbow-colored graffiti. Others were spray-painted in black and red with a blunt warning:


But Chad Michael Murray didn’t keep out. The star of “One Tree Hill” and a stack of Hollywood movies was smack in the middle of this neighborhood. He was helping rebuild a house.

Chad, on his first vacation in years, was working as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat is an organization that matches volunteers with families who need a new home. The families work alongside volunteers like Chad to build or renovate the house that will eventually become their home.

I walked into the house, a tall, two-story home with beige paint that was chipping away to reveal the white underneath.  “Hi, I’m looking for Chad,” I said to a woman who was working inside the doorway.

“What’s up, man?” said a voice from behind me. I wheeled around and saw a tall, skinny guy in a thin green T-shirt and tattered jeans. He wore a baseball cap and had a scraggly beard. He stuck out his hand. “I’m Chad.”

Not exactly the Hollywood star I’d pictured, but that’s exactly the point: Stars don’t spend their lives dressed for the red carpet. Away from the camera, many of them do the same things as you and me. They read, mess around on the computer, play video games, sneak some junk food … Or, like Chad today, take some time to volunteer for a good cause. “The smile on the person’s face who is going to live here,” Chad told me, “it’s going to make everything worth it.”

Chad, who had been hefting a tank full of white paint and spraying it on the ceilings and walls, told me he was on vacation. In fact, this was his first vacation in three years. He planned to spend it doing volunteer work like this. A couple days later, along with four of his closest friends, he was going to be packing into an RV and taking a two-week road trip. This was definitely a “guy trip” – Chad and his buddies were planning to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio and play lots of golf around the country – but they were also planning to do good deeds in each place they visited. They hoped to make stops at soup kitchens, hospitals, and help build more homes and plant a tree in one of the forest fire-ravaged areas of Yellowstone National Park.

Convincing his pals to join him, Chad explained between paint sprays, was easy: “All of my closest friends, when I told them this is what I wanted to do, they were like, ‘OK, let’s do it. Let’s help one another’ – one splatter at a time!”

At first, Chad considered bringing cameras along to film a documentary. “One of the most important things to me so far is to show people around me “ – he meant fans – “how easy it is and how much fun you can have if you go out and help a little bit,” he said. “If everybody did just a little bit, (the world) would be a much better place.”

Ultimately, though, Chad decided against toting cameras. “We’re not here to get press,” he said. “We’re just here to help.”

Still, Chad knew, people would find out about what he was doing. It’s hard for celebrities to slip out of the public eye — even if they wear ripped-up, paint-splattered clothes and grow a bushy beard. “Somehow, word always gets out there,” he said. “You can’t hide anything.”

In this case, that was OK — Chad knew a lot of good could come from being photographed and interviewed while doing charitable work. Maybe, then, others will do it too.

Will you?

Tim O’Shei

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