Hilarie Burton Accuses One Tree Hill Boss of This "Creepy" Behavior on Set

Hilarie Burton alleged her One Tree Hill boss "wrote himself” into an episode to have her hug him when the two stopped talking in real life.

By Gabrielle Chung Aug 29, 2023 3:03 AMTags
Watch: Hilarie Burton Morgan Talks FUN Moments From One Tree Hill

Hilarie Burton is reflecting on a particularly uncomfortable One Tree Hill scene.

While recapping the season five episode "Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace," the actress accused an unnamed boss—who she only referred to as "the worst" and "Voldemort," the villain from the Harry Potter series—of purposefully inserting himself into a scene when the two were no longer talking to each other outside of work.

"I wasn't speaking to him in real life," Burton recounted on the Aug. 20 installment Drama Queens podcast, which she co-hosts with former castmates Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz, "and so he wrote himself into the episode of me hugging him."

Lenz immediately called the behavior "so psychotic," while a flabbergasted Bush asked, "Can you guys imagine Shonda Rhimes or Aaron Sorkin casting themselves on their own show?"

Though Burton did not identify the boss by name, the episode in question was written by One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn, who also appeared in a scene with the star as record store owner Max.

In the scene, Hilarie's character embraces Max before a heart-to-heart conversation, which ends with her warmly holding his hand.

One Tree Hill Cast Reunion Photos

Burton—who played Peyton Sawyer for the show's first six seasons from 2003 to 2009—remembered thinking that the scene was "so creepy" when she first read the script, so she invited her dad on set for the shoot just to be "a presence."

"In between every take, I would just beeline to the monitor and go stand next to my dad," she recalled, "because you can't touch me, you can't pull me into a sidebar conversation, you can't do any of that if I'm just making jokes with my dad."

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The 41-year-old went on to say that her dad—who was "really good" at performing stunts with a whip—tried to send a subtle message to her unwelcomed co-star by showing off his talents during lunch break.

"Voldemort goes off to the production office, where his office has view of the parking lot," Burton explained, "and my dad and [sound mixer Michael Rayle] proceed to go out to crew parking and pull out bullwhips and start doing all these tricks and cracking them real loud."

She added, "It was just like a message, like: 'Hey, don't.'"

Back in 2017, Burton was among the One Tree Hill cast and crew members who publicly accused Schwahn of misusing his power as a showrunner. "To use terminology that has become familiar as the systemic reality of sexual harassment and assault has come more and more to light, Mark Schwahn's behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an 'open secret,'" an open letter penned by Burton and her former colleagues read. "Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally."

The letter continued, in part, "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."

Instagram/Bethany Joy Lenz

On her podcast earlier this year, Burton accused Schwahn of assaulting her while the two were traveling back from Texas for a season four episode of One Tree Hill.

"The flight back from that is when he assaulted me," she said, before alleging Schwahn later told co-star Danneel Ackles "that he and I made out the whole time, and it was fun, and he was trying to make her jealous."

Burton added that castmate Chad Michael Murray was the one who confronted Schwahn at the time as he "didn't have anything to lose because he knew our boss hated him anyway."

"A lot of people had a lot to lose," she remarked, "so you don't speak up when you have a lot to lose."

E! News has reached out to The WB for comment but hasn't heard back. Schwahn has never spoken about any of the allegations and E! News was unable to reach him for comment.

For free, confidential help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit rainn.org.