Why Sophia Bush Claims She and Others Were Controlled and Manipulated on One Tree Hill Set

In a recent interview on the Chicks in the Office podcast, Sophia Bush opened up about the treatment she experienced on One Tree Hill.

By Alyssa Morin Jun 01, 2021 10:38 PMTags
Watch: From "One Tree Hill" to "Everyone Is Doing Great"

Sophia Bush is looking back at her time on One Tree Hill

The 38-year-old star, who played Brooke Davis on the hit television series for nine seasons, recently opened up about the treatment she experienced on the show during an interview on the Chicks in the Office podcast on Friday, May 28.

At the time of filming, Sophia was in her early 20s. However, she portrayed a high school student in the series. Because of this dynamic, she explained, "It was weird because, in some ways, we were treated like adults."

"Looking back on it, we can see the ways in which we were fetishized and we had this lens of adultification put over us with this idea that we were supposed to know everything and have answers, and be, ultimately, professional," she continued. "When we didn't even know what the technical terms were. It was like, 'Get on your mark!' And you're like, 'What are you talking about? What is a mark?'"

One Tree Hill: Where Are They Now?

As she described, "We were expected to be these adults and yet, we were also looked at kind of as pawns."

Additionally, Sophia claimed that she and her One Tree Hill co-stars—who she didn't identify—were being controlled and manipulated by unspecified "grown-ups" that they "trusted."

"We had grown-ups who we trusted, who now we understand were being really controlling and manipulative—who didn't want us to be close 'cause they thought we would band together and ask for more money," she alleged. "It's just so weird and those were just things we were not aware of at the time."

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The Chicago P.D. actress noted that, unlike today, social media wasn't around when she was filming One Tree Hill, so there wasn't an outlet to discuss topics about pay disparity, work environments, etc.

"There was no social media where people were talking about this stuff and giving people advice, and figuring out if you were being paid equitably," she explained. "We didn't have any of that. We were just in the dark."

Sophia said working on the series brought "so much joy and so much confusion" at the same time. But because of her experience on the show, she explained that she's extra diligent about creating a positive space on sets.

"I want my sets to be really professional—we're not here to tolerate a bunch of dilly-dallying or bulls--t," she described. "I want sets that I work on to be places that people can ask any question and get it answered, where we can hold ourselves to a degree of excellence as a challenge, not as a threat, and where it can just be fun."

E! News has reached out to WB for comment regarding Sophia's claims. However, we have yet to receive a response.

The WB

This isn't the first time Sophia has spoken out about her time on One Tree Hill. In January 2020, the actress revealed that she often "fought" with the writers because she felt the storylines were "inappropriate" for her teenage character.

"I remember my boss kept writing scenes for me to be in my underwear," Sophia recalled on Ashley Graham's Pretty Big Deal podcast. "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."

Sophia claimed that her boss, who she didn't identify, responded to her concerns with, "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,'" she continued. "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!'"

She added, "I was really ballsy and I didn't even know it. I just wasn't wanting to perpetuate this sort of behavior that I didn't think was appropriate."

The WB/Fred Norris

Back in 2017, some of the One Tree Hill cast and crew members wrote a letter accusing their former showrunner, Mark Schwahn, of sexual harassment. Moreover, Sophia, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz and Jana Kramer stood in solidarity with Audrey Wauchope, a colleague who also accused Mark of sexual harassment.

Shortly after, Hilarie accused Mark of inappropriate behavior, alleging that on two occasions he "forced himself on her" as well as "kissed her on the mouth without warning and against her will."

Following the allegations, the One Tree Hill creator's rep declined to comment on the claims at the time. Additionally, he was fired from his then-series The Royals, following an investigation. "We have concluded our investigation and Mark will not be returning to The Royals," Lionsgate said in a statement at the time, per The Hollywood Reporter. "The 4th season of the show has already completed production and will air as scheduled on E! in the spring."