Sophia Bush is the latest star to pay a visit to Ashley Graham’s “Pretty Big Deal” podcast, and the former “Chicago P.D.” star went even further back into her list of credits to reveal some disturbing experiences she had while filming her first series, “One Tree Hill”.
In the beloved teen drama, Bush played high school student Brooke Davis, who was supposed to be 16 when the show began (Bush herself, however, was in her early 20s at the time).
Speaking with Graham, Bush recalled clashing with writers and producers over scenes that she thought were “inappropriate” and gratuitous.
“I fought a lot with the writers… I was sort of unaware of the power dynamics at play and I would just say things. I’d be like, ‘I’m not doing this,'” Bush told Graham.
“There was this sort of really weird thing… you look back at it, at the time I didn’t realize how inappropriate it was, but again, this is a long time ago. I remember my boss kept writing scenes for me to be in my underwear,” Bush continued. “And I was like, ‘I’m not doing this, this is inappropriate. Like, I don’t think this is what we should be teaching 16-year-old girls to be doing, and to be seeking validation this way.'”
According to Bush, her “boss” responded by telling her, “‘Well you’re not 16.’ And I said, ‘But I’m playing 16, and if you want somebody to do it so badly, get somebody else to do it. And he literally said to me, ‘Well you’re the one with the big f**king rack everybody wants to see.’ And I was like, ‘What?! Well, I’m not doing it!'”
Bush reacted by showing up to shoot the next episode wearing a modest turtleneck “just sort of to be spiteful. I was like, ‘This is just how I’m gonna dress on the show from now on if you don’t stop writing these scenes,'” she added. “I was really ballsy and I didn’t even know it. I just wasn’t wanting to perpetuate this sort of behaviour that I didn’t think was appropriate.”
While Bush didn’t specify who that “boss” was, Mark Schwahn was both creator and showrunner of “One Tree Hill”, and made headlines in 2017 when he was fired from his subsequent series, “The Royals”, over allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him by some female cast members from “One Tree Hill” — including Bush.
In November 2017, Bush was joined by co-stars Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz, and “all of the female cast members” to write an open letter to share their allegations about Schwahn’s behaviour while they worked on “One Tree Hill”.
“Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally,” the letter stated. “More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be. Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened.”