Sophia Bush Slams ‘One Tree Hill’ Set Culture: It Was ‘Controlling And Manipulative’

Sophia Bush is speaking out about her time on the “One Tree Hill” set, revealing that she and some of her other co-stars felt that they were being controlled and manipulated.

The 38-year-old actor joined the “Chicks in the Office” podcast and touched on a variety of topics, including her time on the hit WB show that ran from 2003 to 2012. While recalling being in her early 20s and bringing to life the character Brooke Davis, Bush explained how green she was to both the industry and, well, life.

“We felt like little kids and when we look back now, we realize how young we were and how naive we were,” said Bush, who divulged that she and her cast mates didn’t have the space on set at the time to ask questions about what was going on.

Bush called the experience “madness,” “kind of scary and intimidating and confusing,” adding that she was merely 21 when she began the show and how it was “weird” that she was treated like an adult when she didn’t feel like one.

“Looking back on it, we can see the ways in which we were fetishized and we had this sort of lens of adultification put over us with,” she explained. “This idea that we were supposed to know everything and have answers, and be, ultimately, professional 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?’”

She went on to say that she and other unnamed cast mates “were expected to be these adults, and yet we were also looked at kind of as pawns.”

Bush then said that she felt that she was being controlled and manipulated by unspecified “grown-ups” on set that she “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 said. “It’s just so weird and those were just things we were not aware of at the time.”

Echoing sentiments shared earlier in the conversation that pertained to the impact of social media on young actors, Bush noted that because “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 and all these things,” when she was starting out, she was “just in the dark.”

This is not the first time Bush has pushed back publicly on something that had gone down on the “One Tree Hill” set. In 2017, she was part of a group of nearly 20 women who publicly accused creator Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment and physical and emotional manipulation. 

Bush called Schwahn a “pig” in an interview with Andy Cohen the following year and emphasized that her time on “One Tree Hill” had good moments and bad.

“Our writers room was in L.A., so we had plenty of time where [Schwahn] wasn’t on set,” she said at the time, per People. “When you have to be on set day in and day out with somebody who is so vile, it’s a different story. So we had great highlight-reel, coming-of-age, rom-com s**t together, and then we also had like, ‘Batten down the hatches, he’s coming.’”




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