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Sophia Bush Reflects on ‘Controlling and Manipulative’ Leaders on ‘One Tree Hill’: It Was ‘Scary and Intimidating’

Sharing her truth. The cast of One Tree Hill have been vocal about their on-set experiences over the years and it definitely wasn’t all pep rallies and basketball games.

Related: ‘One Tree Hill’ Cast: Where Are They Now?

In a new episode of the “Chicks in the Office” podcast, Sophia Bush detailed her time playing Brooke Davis and how much she shaped the character during her 186 episodes. The actress, now 38, realized early on that she wasn’t happy with the content being written for Brooke — which included getting naked in the back of boys’ cars and having sloppy one-night stands. However, she was never taught that it was OK to speak up.

Sophia Bush Reflects Controlling and Manipulative Leaders One Tree Hill
Sophia Bush Fred Norris/The CW

“We were in our early 20s playing high school kids and we didn’t know anything. We were babies,” the former Chicago P.D. actress explained. “Unfortunately we didn’t get to grow up on a set where people wanted to answer our questions or help us navigate any of the madness of the early aughts. And it was madness. It was actually, like, kind of scary and intimidating and confusing. … I think about how intense it felt.”

Later in the episode, she explained that while they weren’t respected as adults, that didn’t mean they were treated with kid gloves.

Related: TV Stars Who Left Shows and Came Back

“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 — 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,” the False Positive star said. “It was like, ‘Get on your mark!’ And you’re like, ‘What are you talking about? What is a mark? What are you talking about?'”

Sophia Bush Reflects Controlling and Manipulative Leaders One Tree Hill 2
Austin Nichols and Sophia Bush. Fred Norris/The CW

In turn, she felt that the cast of the CW show were viewed as “pawns” in a game.

“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 because they thought we would band together and ask for more money,” Bush said. “It’s just so weird and those were just things we were not aware of at the time.”

Noting that the set had “so much joy and so much confusion all existing at the same time,” the activist is thrilled she created the friendships she did.

Related: Hollywood's Sexual Misconduct Scandals

Bush and costar Hilarie Burton, who played best friends on the show, continued that friendship off screen. In 2017, the costars, along with 15 other women from the show, spoke out against the show’s creator, Mark Schwahn, accusing him of sexual harassment. Schwahn never responded to the allegations. In turn, the show he was working on at the time, The Royals, was canceled.

In May 2020, Burton, 38, revealed that she and the Love, Victor star had to “fight for our own friendship” on the show.

“A lot of people wanted to pit us against each other. You know, it’s like, ‘Oh, Hilarie won’t do this, but Sophia will,’ and ‘She’s the pretty one,’ and ‘She’s this one.’ There’s so much comparison that, as a young person, it’s hard to navigate,” the Rural Diaries author said on the “Chicks in the Office” podcast at the time. “She and I now can look back at it and be like, ‘All those bastards. No, no, no. We’re the love story.’ The female friendships were important on that show.”

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