Sophia Bush's New Comments About 'One Tree Hill' Harassment Will Break Your Heart
Back in November 2017, 18 actors and crew members from One Tree Hill made headlines when they came forward with an open letter that detailed alleged harassment by show runner Mark Schwahn. Since then, various cast members have spoken a bit about their experiences, though Schwahn has chosen not to comment. In early June actor Sophia Bush offered new comments about alleged One Tree Hill harassment during an appearance on Andy Cohen's radio show Radio Andy, per Entertainment Weekly. It's one of the first times that Bush, who starred in the series from 2003-2012, has spoken about Schwahn's behavior in detail, and she did not hold back. "We’re not the only group of girls that’s ever had a boss who was a pig," Bush said bluntly, adding, "That show for us was very interesting because at times it was wonderful and at times it really wasn’t."
The actor elaborated, noting that shooting on location created a sort of buffer for cast members. "Our writers’ room was in L.A., so we had plenty of time where [Schwahn] wasn’t on set," she said. "We had great highlight-reel, coming-of-age, rom-com's — together, and then we also had like, batten down the hatches, he’s coming."
She was also candid with Cohen about some of the personal harassment she allegedly endured from the showrunner while filming. "The first time Mark Schwahn grabbed my ass, I hit him in front of six other producers, and I hit him f*cking hard," Bush alleged. She added that Schwahn learned to "stay away" from her after that, but it didn't mean his alleged harassment stopped. She claimed:
"We knew about things he’d say to people, we knew about, like, the late-night texts, we knew when he was super-obsessed with one girl on our show that he started trying to bang down her hotel room door in the middle of the night. She had to be moved, her rooms were moved. And then her boyfriend came and stayed with her the next month and literally, like, it almost came to fisticuffs between the two of them."
Bush remained a series regular throughout the entirety of One Tree Hill's run, a decision she defended in her interview. “Why am I supposed to suffer and kill my own career because somebody else can’t keep their d*ck in their pants?” the actor said to Cohen. As one of the series stars, she said she also felt a responsibility to continue on with the series, as it employed so many people. Bush observed, "It’s not fair to make everybody suffer because one person can’t rein their entitlement in."
Despite the alleged systemic harassment from the showrunner, Bush developed lasting relationships with many of her One Tree Hill coworkers. She's particularly close with actor Hilarie Burton, who played the best friend and occasional romantic rival to Bush's character for the show's first six seasons. Burton and fellow OTH lead Bethany Joy Lenz were coauthors of the open letter regarding Schwahn in November 2017, and Burton responded to Bush's comments to Cohen with an effusive "I love you, ya gutsy, no bullsh*t broad!" on Twitter. Bush responded using the hashtag that she and the other One Tree Hill cast and crew members used to support each other when they first came out to publicly accuse Schwahn of harassment, writing "And I you, sister. #BurnItDownSis."
Bush's claims about Schwahn continue to shed light on a dangerous and all-too common situation for women in Hollywood, where men in power can often get away with harassing their employees. Fortunately, thanks to women like Bush and Burton who are speaking out, those in power are starting to pay attention. Following the One Tree Hill open letter, E!, the network that airs Schwahn's newer TV show Royals, opened an investigation into the showrunner, who was later fired. As the Time's Up movement continues to grow, it's only a matter of time before Hollywood culture starts to change for good.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.