Marvel’s period spy serial Agent Carter won’t be returning for another mission, but co-star Chad Michael Murray has found a good reason to keep living in the past. The 35-year-old actor headlines CMT’s new behind-the-music limited series, Sun Records, which premieres Feb. 23 at 10 p.m.
Named after the iconic Memphis music studio where such rock legends as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis cut their earliest records in the 1950s, Sun Records casts Murray as Sam Phillips, the founder of the label, who had a booming voice to match his big personality. “He’s such an iconic man and lived such an incredible life,” Murray tells Yahoo TV. “He had to have a big personality to blend in with all these gigantic personas we’ve come to know and love.”
The former One Tree Hill star is relishing the opportunity to be what he describes as the “cool big brother” on set, overseeing a cast of young newcomers that includes Drake Milligan as Elvis, Christian Lees as Lewis and Kevin Fonteyne as Cash. “This role had to do with mentorship, and it put Sam and myself in the same shoes, which made for really good chemistry with our cast,” says Murray. “I knew that his drive and passion for music had to be the two things that always stood out. No one could have accomplished what he did without those things.”
Music will obviously play a big role in Sun Records, as Phillips works closely with his artists from his perch in the recording booth to hone their sound. Murray says that many of the songs were recorded live on set to add to the authenticity: “We’d micromanage the performances to really sync the songs to the show; I hope everyone digs the journey of the music and these characters.”
And he’d be happy to continue the journey beyond this initial eight-episode freshman season, especially because it would allow him to remain immersed in mid-20th-century Americana. “I love that era so much,” he says with a sigh, pointing to his self-penned 2008 episode of One Tree Hill — a Casablanca homage that transported the characters back to the 1940s — as evidence. “And now here I am doing two period shows back to back. I love it. The set dressing alone does half the job for you.”
Sun Records premieres on Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. on CMT.